The success of our business over the long term will depend on the social and environmental sustainability of our operations, the resilience of our supply chain and our ability to manage any potential climate change impacts.
In addition to driving improvements in our supply chain, we are therefore committed to addressing climate change impacts from our own operations, including offices, stores and manufacturing and distribution sites. We have set ourselves two goals for 2022:
- Become carbon neutral in our operations, by driving energy efficiencies and procuring renewable energy
- Revalue waste, by igniting a makers’ movement and creating innovative solutions to the endemic waste challenge facing the fashion industry.
BECOMING CARBON NEUTRAL
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today. Issues such as poverty, wildlife extinction and extreme weather events are all exacerbated by climate change and will continue to worsen if governments and industries do not work together to curb emissions. The aim set out by The Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and keep global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In support of this global effort, we aim to become carbon neutral in our operations by 2022. We will achieve this by improving energy efficiency, reducing our absolute energy consumption and switching to renewable energy sources, before offsetting any remaining emissions.
We assess our progress towards carbon neutrality by looking at the reduction in our total market-based CO2e emissions year on year. During 2017/18 these have reduced by 20%. Please see our Performance Overview for further details.
Our retail network is responsible for 74% of our direct carbon emissions. Energy targets have been set for all our stores globally, with targets owned by regional leadership and reinforced by a programme of awareness raising, training and technical support. During 2017/18 we have reduced our global, absolute energy consumption by 4%, mainly through real-time monitoring, behavioural changes and LED lighting.
Our internal manufacturing sites in Yorkshire and our five distribution centres located in the UK, Italy, Americas, Hong Kong and China, collectively account for a further 15% of our direct carbon emissions. We work with teams across these locations to drive energy efficiency by introducing energy monitoring systems, lighting upgrades, motion sensors and temperature controls. The remaining 11% of carbon emissions come from our offices around the world, which are subject to similar energy efficiency measures, including new timing schedules for heating, ventilation, lighting and AV equipment.
To achieve a zero-carbon footprint, it is not sufficient to reduce our energy consumption. We also need to change where we source energy from. In June 2017 we joined RE100, committing to procure 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2022.
During 2017/18, 48% of our total energy (including 56% of our electricity) was procured from renewable sources, an increase of 24% from the year before. This includes energy we generate ourselves through solar panels installed at our UK head office, US distribution centre and our flagship stores in Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, which together provide over 1 million kWh of renewable energy a year.
However, access to renewable energy is still limited in some regions. As members of RE100 we hope to drive wider demand for low carbon power and encourage all providers to introduce renewable energy options.
Going a step further, as members of the Prince of Wales Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) initiative, we have also signed a letter of support for the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board's Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures. The Taskforce’s mission is to develop voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies, when providing information to investors and other key stakeholders. This will further support the monetary valuation of climate-related risks and their inclusion in business strategies and financial decision-making.
During 2017/18, we held our first scenario-planning workshop, facilitated by an external expert organisation and involving key internal stakeholders from our Risk, Strategy, Investor Relations, Responsibility, Supply Chain and IT teams. The workshop helped us to scope out long-term environmental, social and technological trends that could affect our business model and operations over the next 10-20 years. This will inform the development of cross-functional action plans to help mitigate long-term risks and future-proof our business.
The accelerated growth in the world’s population, coupled with an increase in global consumption, is leading to the rapid depletion of important natural resources we all rely on. Increased resource scarcity also makes global supply chains and raw materials pricing more volatile, which has a direct impact on our business.
Waste is a significant issue for the fashion industry. Globally, the industry is responsible for 92 million tonnes of solid waste per year, approximately 4% of total waste generated (‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry’, Global Fashion Agenda, 2017). Only 20% of textiles are recycled, with the remaining 80% lost to landfill or incineration (‘Loved Clothes Last’, Fashion Revolution Issue #2).
We are acutely aware of the endemic waste challenge facing our industry. We are committed not only to reduce, reuse and recycle any waste we generate, but also to create new solutions and help drive positive system change. This approach will not only protect our natural resources, but also reduce costs and increase business resilience for the future.
RESOURCE EFFICIENCY AND RECYCLING
As a business, we are committed to using resources carefully and reducing waste as much as possible. When waste is inevitable, we look to work with innovative organisations to recycle our waste. Examples include our partnership with Avena Environmental in the UK, which in 2017/18 enabled us to recycle 52 tonnes of damaged garments into geotextiles, and our partnership with Resmal and Greenline in Italy, which last year helped us to recycle 51 tonnes of pre-consumer textile into regenerated yarns, fabrics and automotive insulation materials.
Across key UK operations, comprising our internal manufacturing and distribution sites in Northern England and our head office and retail stores in London, in 2017/18 we sent zero waste to landfill.
Globally, we continue to build awareness amongst our employees through focused training and engagement activities, all aimed at driving resource efficiency across our operations. On all our major construction projects worldwide, we are committed to responsible waste management, with over 95% of waste currently diverted from landfill.
We are also continuously exploring new ways to increase recycled materials in our products, increase recycled content in our packaging and increase the recyclability of our products, to help our customers reduce their own waste footprint. Our products are built with long life in mind, so that our customers may love and cherish their purchases for years to come. Our repair service for items within warranty prolongs the life of our products even further and we are planning to expand this service going forward.
MOVING TOWARDS CIRCULARITY
In May 2018, we were proud to become a core partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative. Joining together with fashion industry leaders, the initiative will explore how our industry can work towards the vision for a circular economy for fashion, first set out in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 2017 report ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future’. It will also develop solutions to some of the biggest environmental issues faced by the fashion industry.
A first step towards circularity is our work on revaluing leather waste. Leather is a significant waste stream for the luxury fashion industry. Even when product patterns are very carefully planned to maximise the use of a hide, the process inevitably creates significant number of small offcuts, which are usually destroyed.
In 2017, we started to donate leather offcuts to Elvis & Kresse, a sustainable luxury company that creates lifestyle accessories by re-engineering waste material through innovative craftsmanship. This supports a broader, five-year partnership between the Burberry Foundation and Elvis & Kresse, which aims to transform at least 120 tonnes of Burberry leather offcuts into a range of new products, designed and sold by Elvis & Kresse, and by doing so affect real change in the leather goods industry.
Half the profits from this range will be donated to charitable organisations promoting renewable energy, while the remaining half will be reinvested by Elvis & Kresse to expand their work and generate impactful apprenticeship and work experience opportunities. In its first few months, the partnership has already rescued approximately two tonnes of waste and inspired over 1,000 potential ‘makers’ about waste revaluation.