Leading fashion companies are not just continuing to rely on fossil fuels, they are also failing miserably in efforts to decarbonise their supply chains.
- The new Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard, released by environmental advocacy group Stand.earth, has found that progress over the past 18 months has been insufficient and extremely disappointing.
- None of the brands in the 2023 Scorecard have committed to phasing out fossil fuel based fabrics, although Eileen Fisher, Hugo Boss, Levi’s, and Ralph Lauren reported using less than 10% synthetic fibres in their material mix.
- In fact, 70% of brands are turning to recycled polyester from plastic bottles instead of using textile recycling or committing to phase out fossil fuel derived fabrics.
- Only 51% of the total 43 companies assessed in the Scorecard received an overall grade within the D range (D- to D+), while 32% received a grade within the C range (C- to C+).
- Only one company received a grade of B-.
- Despite the targeted emissions cut of 55% being only seven years away (2030), six companies received an overall grade of F.
The Verdict: The 2023 Scorecard found an industry with more commitments to act, but still only a few pockets of progress toward supply chain decarbonisation.
- The majority of brands showed a lack of willingness to publicly disclose salient supply chain information. This included updates on the fossil fuel and renewable energy mix used in their supply chains; details about their raw materials mix and suppliers; and, relevant aspects of their supply chain engagement including the provision of training, and financial or other support to suppliers to mitigate against short-term difficulties.
- Brands have been slow to cut out fossil fuel derived fibres such as virgin polyester, and overwhelmingly, major fashion companies are providing no more than lip service when it comes to increasing product circularity at scale and tackling overproduction.
The Scorecard: The report analysed 43 leading apparel and footwear companies on their commitments and actions to reduce their carbon footprints in line with a 1.5°C emissions pathway identified in the Paris Climate Accord.
- Stand.earth used publicly available sources such as corporate sustainability and annual reports, submissions to CDP, Refinitiv Eikon, company websites, social media accounts, and press releases.
- The five impact areas assessed were: Climate commitments and transparency; renewable energy and energy-efficient manufacturing; renewable energy advocacy; low-carbon and longer lasting materials; and greener shipping.
A Brand Failure: Some highlights from the 164-page report:
- H&M reported the most progress relative to its peers in setting ambitious climate and energy targets across its supply chain, promoting the renewable energy transition with its suppliers, and advocating globally for the renewable energy transition. However, it still has a lot of work to do to reduce the massive impact of its raw materials and fast-fashion business model. H&M achieved a B- overall.
- While H&M (B-) still has significant work to do in improving circularity in its business model, it demonstrated the most progress in prioritising renewable energy and supply chain decarbonisation, pulling far ahead of its fast fashion competitors Boohoo (F), Shein (F), Fast Retailing (D-), Inditex (D+), and Primark (D).
- Overall, fast fashion brands scored poorly in ‘Low-carbon and circular materials’, with only Inditex (D-) and H&M (C-) scoring above an F in this category.
- With the exception of Kering (Gucci, Balenciaga) (C), luxury brands performed poorly across the board. Luxury brands were held back by a notable lack of supply chain transparency and supplier engagement, with Richemont (Chloé), Salvatore Ferragamo, and Prada all awarded an F, and Capri Holdings (Michael Kors, Versace, Jimmy Choo), Armani, and Chanel receiving a D-.
- Despite some progress from their peers, sportswear group Amer Sports (Salomon, Arc’teryx) (D-) and Under Armour (D-) are still lagging far behind other athletic brands, performing especially poorly in the key category of low-carbon materials and circularity.
- Puma (C+) showed the most progress towards the energy transition through a meaningful commitment and action to promote supply chain renewable energy.
- Brands’ emissions targets are still not in line with the 1.5°C emissions scenario, and actual emissions are going up.
- Only five out of 43 companies (ASICS, H&M, Levi’s, Mammut and REI) have set supply chain emissions reduction targets of 55% or greater by 2030 to be in line with the 1.5°C emissions scenario.
- Only five companies (ASICS, Allbirds, H&M, Kering, PUMA) have stepped up by committing to power their manufacturing using renewable energy.
- Transparency into supply chain energy use is still lacking – only Puma and Nike provide data on the energy used by their suppliers.
- Almost half (21) of the companies assessed still do not have emissions targets related to transportation.
What They Said:
Many fashion companies pledge to become more environmentally friendly, but the scorecard shows their messaging around sustainability is a marketing ploy aimed at veiling their addiction to fossil fuels… These big players in the fashion industry must show leadership by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels to protect public health and the climate.
— Rachel Kitchin
Corporate Climate Campaigner
Failure by brands to support the transition to renewables, while at the same time increasing energy consumption, will further entrench fossil fuel infrastructure in the Global South where their supply chains are focused, and lock in harmful health and climate impacts for decades to come. Brands need to transition to renewable energy in their supply chains, and be more transparent about who their suppliers are and where they are located.
— Seema Joshi
Fashion & IT Campaign Director