Ralph Lauren pledges to set approved science-based targets by 2020

More than 350 companies have pledged to set approved science-based targets within the next two years

The goals form part of the luxury fashion giant’s renewed global citizenship and sustainability strategy, called Design The Change and published this week.

The strategy acknowledges that the global fashion sector is believed to be responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and states that Ralph Lauren’s approach to carbon reductions will be focused around the areas of efficiency, industry collaborations and renewable energy.

Last financial year, Ralph Lauren offset 10% of its total electricity-related emissions in the US and 31% of its store-related electricity-related emissions in Europe by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs). The new commitment will involve the company setting a renewable energy strategy and joining The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative before the start of 2020.

Previous moves Ralph Lauren has taken to reduce its carbon emissions include installing energy-efficient LED lighting across its estate of stores and distribution centres, retrofitting buildings with automated energy management systems and upgrading its IT systems. However, it is yet to set time-bound numerical commitments around energy efficiency, clean power and emissions reductions.

Aside from carbon, Ralph Lauren’s renewed strategy also includes pledges to source 100% sustainably certified key materials including cotton by 2025, and to train all product development teams on circular design on an annual basis, starting in 2020.

These commitments come at a time when the global fashion industry is believed to be churning out more than 100 billion garments and 20 billion pairs of shoes annually – the vast majority of which will be sent to landfill or incineration within five years of sale.

“When Ralph founded our company more than 50 years ago, he did so with the conviction that whatever we create is meant to be worn, loved and passed on for generations,” Ralph Lauren’s chief executive and president Patrice Louvet said.

“This philosophy is deeply embedded in our culture, our brands and our Purpose–to inspire the dream of a better life through authenticity and timeless style. It also inspires Design the Change, a strategy that will accelerate our efforts to create a positive impact on society and a more sustainable future.”

To bolster its new environmental ambitions, Ralph Lauren has also set a number of new social sustainability targets in Design the Change. These include closing the gender pay gap, ensuring equal gender representation in leadership positions by 2023 and increasing its proportion of women in factory management by 25% by 2025.

Increasing ambitions

The launch of Design the Change comes shortly after Ralph Lauren joined a coalition of 14 other luxury fashion brands in co-creating a sustainable roadmap to help the sector address the challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and rising economic inequality.

The roadmap is called ‘Disrupting Luxury’, with other business contributors including the likes of Kering, Louis Vuitton and Chanel. It recommends that all luxury fashion firms should assess how their products affect society and the planet, champion regenerative ranching and farming, and help ensure that supply chain workers receive quality training a fair wage.

Sarah George

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