Accurately calculating the environmental and social impact of a company is a complicated task. Since 2020 we have been identifying, tracking and calculating some of the impacts we create, with the aim of both lessen their impacts, and sharing our work to help better the industry.
This project is a constant work in progress. We can categorically say it is not a perfect calculation method, nor is it completely accurate. It is, however, a great starting point and has set the ball in motion for more accurate data and better tracking year on year.
As a growing company, the number of items we produce and sell is increasing annually. The impact this creates is on both the environment, and the people involved in the process. We feel it is our duty to understand the impact of this activity, to ensure we are operating in the most responsible way possible, while acting on damaging or unsustainable practices.
We are aligned with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) which helped us set goals backed by science. These goals are to reduce scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions 42% by 2030 from a 2020 base year, and to measure and reduce our scope 3 emissions. This alignment created a requirement to measure scope 1 & 2 impacts, in order to construct a reduction target.
We are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and make use of the Higg Index to measure parts of our impact. We predominantly use the ‘Product Module’ (PM) and complementary ‘Material Sustainability Index’ (MSI) to estimate the environmental impact of our products. This platform is the backbone of our work to calculate our scope 3 emissions.
The adoption of the SBTi goals and the use of the Higg Index simultaneously allowed us to construct both a high-level perspective of our impact (in greenhouse gas equivalent units) and a product-level perspective across multiple impact areas (such as water use and eutrophication). By identifying both perspectives we can look at ways of managing our impact on a variety of scales.
We calculated scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions through internal sourcing of key metrics such as company vehicle use, office and store electricity and heating consumption. This was collated and applied to the GHG Emission Calculation Tool developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This was the main tool used for calculation.
For scope 3 emissions, we used internally sourced information to measure business travel and commuting, alongside the Higg index to measure a sample of our products. To estimate the impact of our products, we identified enough styles to represent 80% of our production volume. For these styles we ask our suppliers to provide primary data, which is accurately inputted within the Higg Index Tools. The resulting impact data is extrapolated alongside the total production volume, to provide estimated data on the lifecycle impact of 100% our products. The data was then extracted from the Higg Index and applied to the GHG Emission Calculation Tool along with scope 1 and 2 data.
We used the Scope 3 Guidance developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to inform our decisions when calculating our scope 3 impact.
Using this method of calculation, we identified the following environmental impacts of the last years:
Scope 1: 17,3 tonnes Co2e
Scope 2: 4,8 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3: 2.818,1 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3 Intensity: 114,9kg Co2e /€’000 revenue
Total: 2.841,2 tonnes Co2e
Scope 1: 12,5 tonnes Co2e
Scope 2: 2,7 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3: 1.632,8 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3 Intensity: 106,29kg Co2e /€’000 revenue
Total: 1.648 tonnes Co2e
Scope 1: 6 tonnes Co2e
Scope 2: 2,7 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3: 540,3 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3 Intensity: 75,3kg Co2e /€’000 revenue
Total: 549,1 tonnes Co2e
Aligned with our commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), we must achieve a 42% reduction in our scope 1 and 2 emissions by the year 2030, from a 2020 baseline. These results suggest taking our target emissions from 2030 to 3,49 tonnes Co2eq for scope 1, and 1,61 tonnes Co2eq for Scope 2. Additionally, our aim is to decrease the intensity of our scope 3 emissions by 25% by 2030, using a 2021 baseline. This effort involves achieving an intensity level that is less than 80 kg of CO2eq per €’000 of revenue.
Our findings show, the largest portion of our environmental impact arises during the production of our products. This is also indicated in the outlook report by Mistra Fashion Future, 80% of a garment’s climate impact and 92% of the toxicity originate during the production phase. Among these, wet treatments like dyeing and washing stand out for their detrimental impact, largely due to the substantial energy consumption involved in heating process water. Therefore, adopting dyeing processes which use less or no water, in addition to utilising renewable sources for both electricity and heat during the manufacturing, are most effective in reducing the emissions.
This emphasises the importance of the initial stages of design and manufacturing which play a large role in reducing the environmental impact. It also illustrates the importance of high-quality products which are used for a long time, and maintained well.
These calculations are based upon a series of estimations, averages and assumptions. Unfortunately the tools and resources we have as a company are limited, but growing. Industry-standard tools such as the Higg Index cannot take into account every specialism of our items, and therefore utilise best-in-class lifecycle data to estimate impacts. This lack of true data will be a prevailing barrier to completely accurate greenhouse gas emissions calculations in the coming years.
Another limitation of our approach is the lack of 3rd party validation. This validation and assurance would give more credit to our calculations. As of 2021 we have not validated our calculations, and openly state that these results are self-measured using an evolving methodology. In the future our calculation will be validated to align with the industry-leading standards such as GRI Sustainability Reporting Verification.
Going forwards, our 2022 calculations have been performed using several refinement of the methodology. We will continue to extend our database of products within the Higg Index, so we can take into account more styles, which will improve accuracy and reduce the need for assumption.
Internally, we have initiated processes to improve communication between our manufacturing partners, so we can quickly understand the composition, origin and processes of each item. With a process and data structure now created, we can focus more time on improving the accuracy and reliability of our calculations.
Additionally, a significant foundation lies in our collaboration with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to enhance the precision and dependability of the data utilised in our impact assessments. Specifically, we believe that obtaining more primary data directly from our suppliers is crucial to effectively demonstrate and quantify the reductions in environmental impact within our suppliers' operations.
We openly accept feedback, advice, conversation and questions about this, at the following: firstname.lastname@example.org