We create products using the highest-quality materials and involving many manufacturing communities from across the world. As part of our responsibility strategy called ‘Creating Tomorrow’s Heritage’, we are committed to ensuring that all our products have more than one positive attribute by 2022.
Positive attributes relate to social and/or environmental improvements achieved at either the raw materials sourcing or manufacturing stage. A product may, for example, carry a positive attribute if it is made from cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative, or if it was manufactured in a facility paying all workers a wage which meets a recognised local living wage benchmark. During 2017/18, the first year of our strategy, we have reached 28% of product with one, and 14% of product with more than one, positive attribute. Please see our Basis of Reporting for more details on the classification and measurement of positive attributes.
Our supply chain activities have long been guided by our Responsible Business Principles, which include our Global Environmental Policy and are underpinned by the United National Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organization and the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code. We are now taking our supply chain programmes to the next level, focusing on:
- Stimulating demand for more sustainable raw materials
- Enhancing worker wellbeing and livelihoods
- Driving environmental sustainability in our supply chain
- Fuelling innovation in materials and processes
DRIVING DEMAND FOR MORE SUSTAINABLE RAW MATERIALS
Cotton, cashmere and leather are three of our key raw materials, representing approximately 30% of our overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Used in many of our products today, cotton is Burberry’s most significant raw material. It is also the fibre used to make gabardine, the iconic fabric invented by our founder Thomas Burberry in 1879. Tightly woven in Burberry’s Yorkshire Mill, this breathable and lightweight fabric has been used in our trench coats for over 100 years.
Cotton production and global demand have significantly changed since we first manufactured gabardine. Today, conventional cotton farming can have significant environmental and social impacts arising from the amount of water, fertilisers and pesticides used in cultivation, as well as the energy-intensive processes of spinning, weaving and dyeing cotton.
To reduce environmental impacts, help secure a sustainable supply of this essential raw material long into the future and improve the livelihoods that depend on it, we have set ourselves the target to source 100% of our cotton via the Better Cotton Initiative by 2022. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) works with over one million cotton farmers worldwide, helping them to minimise the use of harmful pesticides, reduce water consumption and care for soil and natural habitats, while at the same time promoting decent work for farmers.
During 2017, we sourced 21% of our cotton through the BCI and partnered with them to run supply chain training and engagement days in both Italy and Portugal, helping our partners to learn more about this initiative, the future challenges facing cotton production and how they can be part of the solution.
We are also supporting the work of ‘Cotton 2040’, a cross-industry partnership, convened by Forum for the Future, which aims to maximise and accelerate current sustainability initiatives in the global cotton industry and drive more sustainable cotton firmly into the mainstream.
From our classic signature handbags and wallets, to runway inspired seasonal updates of prints and colours, leather is an important raw material used across our accessories, apparel and shoes.
The impacts of leather production can be significant and stretch right along its value chain, from methane emissions and conversion of natural ecosystems to pastureland, to the chemicals, water and energy used in the processing and tanning of leather. With leather accessories accounting for more than 10% of our total greenhouse gas emissions, we are focused on working with our supply chain partners to mitigate any adverse impacts from leather production.
We fully support tannery certification as one of several vehicles that help drive more responsible leather production. We recognise certifications by the Leather Working Group (LWG), the Italian Istituto di Certificazione della Qualità per l'Industria Conciaria (ICEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). We are now elevating our requirements even further and have set ourselves a target for 2022 to source 100% of our leather from tanneries that hold environmental, traceability and social compliance certifications. Currently, 64% of our leather products are made of leather sourced from tanneries with at least one of these certifications. Please see here for further details on accepted certifications.
To achieve this target, we are committed to working closely with our supply chain partners and supporting them in achieving the required certifications. We held a successful tannery engagement day in 2017, involving key partners in Italy, and are now following up with tanneries individually to drive further progress.
From our iconic scarves and knitwear to our distinctive outerwear, cashmere has been at the heart of our product offering for the past 130 years. Each spring this luxurious fibre is combed from the winter undercoat of goats that live in the vast plains of Central Asia. Warm, soft and lightweight, it takes the hair from one goat to make a single Burberry classic cashmere scarf.
Climate change and increased global demand for cashmere pose challenges for the fragile ecosystems of the Mongolian Steppe, a major production centre of global cashmere supply. Overgrazing by cashmere goats is depleting native grasslands, with cashmere farming linked to significant environmental issues, including desertification and biodiversity loss. An additional challenge for the long-term viability of the cashmere industry is attracting the next generation of Mongolian cashmere herders and preserving existing herding skills and knowledge.
In 2015, we became a founding partner of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), a UK-based NGO working with key stakeholders in Mongolia to improve the impacts of cashmere production by restoring grasslands, promoting animal welfare and supporting a decent living for cashmere goat herders.
With input from several stakeholders, including animal welfare specialists and land management experts, the SFA developed Animal Welfare and a Rangeland Land Stewardship Codes of Practice, which were piloted with herder communities in Mongolia during 2016/17. This pilot proved successful in identifying herders who were conversant with the Codes of Practice, creating a certified source of sustainable cashmere. There are now 29 SFA registered herder cooperatives in Mongolia looking to monitor land biodiversity across 12 regions. The SFA also works to improve the livelihoods of herders and their families and has established a training programme to help young herders develop skills and knowledge in agricultural practices and goat husbandry.
ENHANCING WORKER WELLBEING AND LIVELIHOODS
The many craftspeople across the world who create our products are fundamental to our business and our industry more broadly. We are deeply committed to protecting the rights of these workers, nurturing and preserving their skills and enhancing their wellbeing and livelihoods.
Our supply chain activities have long been guided by our Responsible Business Principles, which include the Burberry Ethical Trading Code of Conduct, Migrant Worker and Homeworker Policy, and which are underpinned by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organization and the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code.
Since 2004, we have had an Ethical Trading Programme in place, monitoring our supply chain’s compliance with local laws and Burberry’s Responsible Business Principles. Our Ethical Trading teams based in London, Florence, Hong Kong and Tokyo visit supply chain partners on a regular basis, engaging with both management and workers to review performance, drive improvements and ensure that workers’ welfare is at the heart of each production facility.
Our programme is evolving year-on-year and, while audits remain an important mechanism to identify and address non-compliance issues, we are increasing our focus on how we can make the most meaningful, positive impacts on the lives of people throughout our supply chain, rather than increasing the number of audits.
During 2017/18, we have conducted 446 audits and assessments (slightly down from 477 in 2018/19), and completed 263 training and engagement visits (up from 234 last year), to support our supply chain partners in building stronger human resource management systems, reducing working hours, sustaining and enhancing unique knowledge, skills and expertise and providing access to confidential support. When access to grievance mechanisms is a particular challenge, we make it a priority to introduce confidential, NGO-run hotlines. During 2017/18, Burberry sponsored hotlines provided over 10,000 workers across 21 Asian factories with confidential support, including advice and information on workers’ rights and well-being. Alongside this, participation in our Vendor Ownership Programme, focused particularly on our vendors in Italy, has more than doubled over the last year (from 6 vendors to 15), building our partners’ capacity to set up their own ethical trading programmes and monitor working conditions in their upstream supply chain.
We identify and review our key supply chain partners on a regular basis, considering criteria such as volume, value, unique capabilities, investment in research, development and transparency, as well as their commitment to Burberry’s social and environmental standards.
As part of our Manufacturing Excellence programme, we are working with key supply chain partners to help them move beyond compliance. The programme focuses on three key areas – people, productivity and natural resources – and provides partners with a step-by-step framework aimed at creating a more sustainable supply chain for the future. During 2017/18 we have piloted the programme with two key vendors in Italy and their selected subcontractors, and have jointly built a roadmap with specific targets for enhancing the wellbeing of their workers, improving their impact on the environment and increasing the productivity of each facility.
Worker wellbeing is at the heart of our Manufacturing Excellence programme. Having partners with a happy, healthy and valued workforce will create value for everyone along the supply chain. During 2017/18 we have worked with Oxfam to develop an innovative Worker Wellbeing Survey, designed to capture first-hand comments from workers and evaluate their wellbeing based on a series of metrics, including respect, income, progression, physical and mental health. We have piloted the survey with key supply chain partners in Europe and will continue to roll it out as part of our Manufacturing Excellence programme.
A further example is our work to promote living wages in our supply chain. In line with our commitment to fair and responsible employment, in 2015 we became the first luxury retailer and manufacturer to achieve accreditation as a UK Living Wage employer. We subsequently became a Principal Partner of the Foundation and in 2016 joined the steering group of the Global Living Wage Initiative, to help harness the increasing interest in the Living Wage and address in-work poverty across all sectors and multiple geographies as part of a unified, global approach with multi-stakeholder participation. We believe that all workers have the right to a living wage and continue to promote this standard throughout our supply chain.
DRIVING ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN OUR SUPPLY CHAIN
We are committed to minimising the environmental impacts that arise from the manufacturing of our products, specifically to reducing energy and water consumption, increasing the use of renewable energy and improving chemical management in our supply chain.
In 2012, we completed an environmental baseline assessment (pg. 69) of both our direct and indirect carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from raw materials through to consumer use. This detailed analysis enabled us to identify key risks and opportunities and informed the development of long-term targets. The assessment highlighted that activities in our supply chain contribute 82% of our overall, direct and indirect CO2e emissions, and we are therefore working closely with our partners to create a more sustainable supply chain.
ENERGY AND WATER
Energy is required at every stage of production, from the growing and processing of raw materials to the manufacturing of finished products. The use of fossil fuels to support this continued demand for energy throughout our supply chain contributes to the carbon footprint of our industry. In a study published in February 2018, Quantis estimates that the apparel and footwear industries account for 8% of global GHG emissions, with an expected growth in emissions of 49% from the sector by 2030.
Most of our water footprint relates to raw material production and processing, including washing and dyeing. A third of the world’s largest groundwater systems are already in distress, with water scarcity affecting 40% of the global population. The ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry report 2017’, from the Global Fashion Agenda indicates that the fashion industry today consumes 79 billion cubic metres of water a year, enough to fill nearly 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools, and anticipates that this will increase by 50% by 2030.
These are significant challenges, which require global collaboration at all levels, as well as local awareness and action. We work very closely with key supply chain partners worldwide to raise awareness, monitor energy and water consumption, and help drive continuous improvement.
In 2016, we launched our Energy & Water Reduction Programme, which has been modelled on the Natural Resource Defence Council (NRDC) “Clean by Design” principles, and we continue to evolve the programme in partnership with the NRDC. In 2017/18, we had 28 of our supply chain partners participating in the programme (including 15 facilities with wet processing), with 43% of our products going through these partners During 2017/18, nine facilities achieved at least a 5% reduction in energy or water consumption, resulting in 15% of Burberry products with a positive attribute. Reductions have been achieved mainly through the implementation of low cost actions such as lighting and HVAC improvements, fixing leaks and improving maintenance conditions. We continue to work with the NRDC to strengthen our programme and our monitoring and evaluation framework.
We also use the WWF’s water risk mapping tool to identify suppliers in water stressed areas and the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to understand potential future strains on water resources and long-term risks in our supply chain.
We have set ourselves a target to eliminate by 2020 the use of chemicals that may have a negative environmental impact, going beyond the required international environmental and safety standards. In 2015, we adopted the latest Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL), released by the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals group, with an addendum banning the use of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). For more details, please see Burberry’s Commitment on Chemical Management in Manufacturing.
We have set clear standards and guidelines for our supply chain partners and continue to provide training and support to help with the process of elimination. For example, we have created an MRSL Implementation Framework to help our partners implement and assess chemical management processes internally and with their upstream supply chain. We carry out testing of effluent, product, raw materials and chemical formulations and in 2017 have worked with an external platform provider to develop a chemical inventory tool, which will host chemical formulation data and enable our supply chain partners to effectively manage their chemical usage.
We carry out testing of effluent, product, raw materials and chemical formulations and in 2017 have worked with an external platform provider to develop a chemical inventory tool, which will host chemical formulation data and enable our supply chain partners to effectively manage their chemical usage.
We use a Partner Progress Tool (PPT) to monitor our supply chain partners’ performance against 29 chemical management KPIs, grouped into the four implementation pillars outlined in the MRSL Implementation Guidelines: commitment, internal implementation, upstream implementation and achievement. As part of our Product goal for 2022, during 2017/18 we achieved 15% of our products sourced from supply chain partners rated ‘Green’ on chemical management.
We continuously strive to partner with industry associations, other brands, academic organisations, chemical suppliers and other stakeholders to achieve further progress in this area. We also encourage collaboration between our supply chain partners and have helped create a community of chemical managers to share best practice across our supply chain.
FUELLING INNOVATION IN MATERIALS AND PROCESSES
Drawing on the legacy of our founder Thomas Burberry and his invention of gabardine in 1879, material innovation is a key part of our Responsibility work today.
In June 2017, we supported the Burberry Foundation in establishing a five-year partnership with the Royal College of Art (RCA), to establish the Burberry Material Futures Research Group. The new Research Group is the first explicit ‘STEAM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) research centre at a traditional art and design university, applying radical thinking to invent more sustainable materials, advance manufacturing processes and transform the consumer experience.
In March 2018, Professor Sharon Baurley was appointed as Chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group. She has been a Research Professor at the RCA since 2016, where she also completed her PhD in Textile Design. She will lead on defining the research agenda for the Group and drive the commercial and practical application of the outcomes through industry collaborations. The Group aims to publish its Initial Research Project in September 2018, confirming its focus areas and research strategy for 2018-2022. Research findings will be disseminated through public lectures, conferences, stakeholder networks and by the Group acting as a bridge between academic inquiry and knowledge exchange in the industry.
All research will be made publicly available for the benefit of the whole industry and the wider community, as we believe that the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the 21st century can only be addressed through collaboration and by inspiring a broader community of researchers, students and industries.