Gucci cuts negative environmental impacts by two-fifths

EP&L assigns a monetary value to environmental and social impacts

That is the headline takeaway from the firm’s latest environmental profit and loss (EP&L) results report, a digital and interactive document which uses data collected across six key impact areas: air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land use, waste, water consumption and water pollution.

Data on each of these areas then run through digital systems which calculate their likely short and long-term environmental and wellbeing impacts in context, taking into account local climate, ecosystems and communities. Water consumption and pollution in areas already facing water stress, for example, will have more of a negative impact.

The report reveals that Gucci has reduced its overall footprint by 39% since 2015, when the brand first began using EP&L models.

Much of this progress can be attributed to a 37% reduction in Gucci’s direct and power-related (Scope 1 and Scope 2) GHG footprint within this timeframe. In order to further reduce its impact in this area, Gucci has pledged to source 100% renewable energy globally by the end of 2020, and had achieved an 83% proportion as of the end of 2019. Mindful of the fact that 90% of Gucci’s GHG emissions lie within Scope 3, chief executive Marco Bizzarri recently kick-started the development of an action plan for supply chain emissions and challenged other businesses across the luxury and fashion sectors to follow suit. Bizzarri is notably advocating against sole reliance on carbon offsetting and in favour of efficiencies, clean energy and nature-based solutions.

Given that it is ahead of schedule to meeting its 2025 EP&L targets, Gucci is going beyond targets focussed on harm reduction and has set a long-term, non-time-bound vision to generate “positive change for people and planet”. Such an approach has been dubbed net-positive by several other corporates. Gucci’s version is called ‘Equilibrium’.

In a drive to achieve this vision, Gucci has adopted an approach which relies heavily on external partnerships and communications. The brand this month launched a new dedicated website and Instagram profile to further this, where third-party content will soon be hosted.

Natural capital and climate neutrality

The first major luxury fashion house to use EP&L was Stella McCartney, also owned by Gucci’s parent company, Kering.

This method of accounting helps to drive business decisions and actions across the value chain by placing a monetary value on the financial costs and benefits generated by the entire company’s environmental impact – an approach often called natural capital accounting. A further benefit of EP&L, Kering’s head of sustainable sourcing innovation Helen Crowley previously told edie, is that it conveys information typically classed as hard-to-measure clearly to key investors and the board.

With the GHG emissions proportion of the firm’s focus areas having received the lion’s share of public environmental attention in recent months, Kering confirmed plans to offset its entire 2018 greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint, including its supply chain emissions, late last year.

Kering said the move would not replace further efforts to minimise its own footprint, which will “continue to be focussed on as a priority”. Gucci took a similar stance and coupled its carbon-neutral announcement with the publication of a new climate strategy. The strategy comprises a mixture of reduction, elimination and offsetting what it calls “unavoidable emissions”.

Gucci’s latest bid to minimise its environmental impact is intrinsically linked to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the fashion industry, from its supply chains to its large-scale events. The fashion house last month announced plans to cut the number of annual shows it gives from five to two – a move it claims will encourage shoppers to extend the lifecycle of their clothing, and fashion houses to reduce production accordingly. This should, indirectly, bring about a climate impact, given that 45% of global emissions are attributed not to energy but to linear systems of material consumption.

Sarah George

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