Asos targets net-zero value chain by 2030 as part of sweeping new ESG strategy

Online fashion retailer Asos has launched a new sweeping sustainability strategy, outlining plans to deliver a net-zero value chain, embed circular design principles, increase human rights transparency and improve leadership-level diversity across the organisation, by 2030 at the latest.

Asos targets net-zero value chain by 2030 as part of sweeping new ESG strategy

Asos will also ensure that at least 50% of leadership-level positions within the company a represented by women by 2030

Asos’s “Fashion with Integrity programme details steps to achieve a range of environmental, social and corporate governance goals by 2030.

The new targets include a goal to achieve carbon neutrality across Asos’s direct operations by 2025 and a net-zero value chain by 2030. These will see the company reduce Scope 1 and 3 emissions per order by 87% by 2030 against a 2018/19 baseline and reduce own-brand production emissions per £ of profit by 58% in the same timeframe. edie has reached out to Asos to ask about the role of offsets in this new strategy.

Transport emissions will also be reduced (again, per £ of profit) by 58% by 2030 against the same baseline and two-thirds of third-party brands in terms of emissions output will sign up to setting targets in line with climate science by 2025.

On the circularity of materials, Asos has pledged that 100% of its own-brand products will be made “from more sustainable or recycled materials”. The company is yet to define what it considers ‘more sustainable’ but a circularity strategy will be launched by 2023 to outline its approach to embedding circular design principles.

All own-brand packaging will be made from recycled materials and be widely recyclable by 2025 and reuse programmes will be launched across key markets by 2030.

The new targets all focus on improving approaches to human rights and reporting. Asos has committed to ensuring that 100% of its own-brand products will have supply chains mapped down to raw material levels by 2030, and all third-party brands on the platform will have to commit to a Transparency Pledge and new ASOS Ethical Trading policy by no later than 2025. A new human rights strategy and reporting process will be introduced by 2023.

Asos will also ensure that at least 50% of leadership-level positions within the company a represented by women by 2030, as well as 15% ethnic minority representation.

Asos’s chief executive Nick Beighton said: “Achieving these will make us a Net Zero business that embraces more circular systems and uses more sustainable and recycled materials in our products and packaging. Our progress will be driven by a more diverse team with equity and inclusion at its heart, leading a business where transparency and human rights remain central to our approach. And, as we continue our journey to becoming a Truly Global Retailer, our new goals will ensure that we do so sustainably and responsibly.

“We cannot do this alone. As we’ve seen throughout the last decade, collaboration and engagement with other brands, civil society organisations and government is critical to driving lasting change. We will work closely with our brand partners and our suppliers, and we will forge new relationships and partnerships to drive progress and build new solutions to enable the achievement of our FWI 2030 goals.”

Progress so far

Asos revealed a 13% year-on-year reduction in its carbon footprint for 2020, despite a surge in sales as lockdown restrictions forced physical stores to close.

The business posted the figures in a new operational carbon report earlier this year, covering the 2019 – 2020 financial year. They relate to absolute operational emissions – Asos’s entire footprint across inbound transportation; inter-site transportation; fulfilment centres and offices; packaging; customer deliveries and returns.

Figures are also provided on carbon intensity. Asos has recorded a 28% year-on-year drop in CO2e per million pounds of revenue and a 45% drop in CO2e per order since the 2015 – 2016 financial year. On this latter point, Asos had been targeting a 30% reduction within this timeframe. The business will now work to update carbon intensity goals.

Asos is a signatory to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) climate action roadmap, along with some 60 other retailers. That initiative requires supporters to deliver net-zero across all scopes by 2040 at the latest, with Scope 3 (indirect) emissions covered as well as those from operations.

The company is also a member of Textiles 2030, a spin-off from WRAP’s existing UK Sustainable Textiles Action Plan and provides brands with updated environmental targets in light of new climate science.

Targets are namely halving emissions, against a baseline consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory, by 2030, with a view to reaching net-zero by 2050 at the latest; and reducing the aggregate water footprint of new products sold by 30%. Signatories will also have to become more circular, with circular economy initiatives going beyond one-off products or collections.

Matt Mace

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