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Is Burberry a sustainable brand?

10 August 2023 | 6 Min Read

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    Burberry is renowned for their outerwear and accessories, such as their iconic check pattern that first emerged as inner linings on trench coats in the 1920s, later becoming its signature trademark.

    Bravo's strategy for Burberry was to make it more contemporary and affordable, using marketing to attract millienials. Her efforts paid off and transformed its profile with customers. 
     

    History

    Burberry has long been recognized as an innovator and sustainability pioneer, setting ambitious targets to become carbon neutral and climate positive over its history, by cutting Scope 3 emissions caused by suppliers, contractors, or anyone outside its direct control. Furthermore, Burberry was one of the founding members of The Fashion Pact as well as partner in Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Make Fashion Circular initiative.

    The company has made significant strides toward sustainable material sourcing, working with partners to explore options such as organic and regenerative cotton. Furthermore, they have decreased plastic usage by offering products made with ECONYL which is manufactured from recycled fishing nets and ocean waste - their goal being to use only sustainable materials by 2025.

    Under former CEO Marco Gobbetti, Burberry placed leather goods at the core of its growth strategy - something which still remains true today. As part of this decision, $37 million was invested into building a new leather goods factory in England which should save over $70 million in operating costs over 10 years while decreasing water and energy usage by 25%. 

    Ricardo Tisci joined Burberry as Chief Creative Officer in 2018, ushering in an exciting new era for the brand. Reintroducing iconic coats in bold colorways and adding a slim typeface for their logo and monogram are among his first steps as CCO. His first collection included images of London landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Albert Bridge and Nelson's Column with backdrops such as Nelson's Column and National Gallery as inspiration - along with images drawn from 13th and 14th-century armour on display at Wallace Collection as well as updating company's equestrian knight device device - in other words a fresh approach! 

    Long-term, the company strives to transition towards a circular business model where all products can be reused or recycled. To support this goal, they have set an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions from raw materials by 95% while using 100% renewable energy sources. They have also joined Canopy, an organization working to protect forests and biodiversity around the globe. 
     

    ESG score

    Burberry shares responsibility with other fashion retailers for greenhouse gas emissions and toxic waste production, yet strives to minimize this impact through sustainability initiatives and branding that emphasize care for the planet. Their customers increasingly recognize this and want to support a brand which takes responsibility. 

    Fashion brands should strive to be open about their impact and accept criticism without dismissal, one way of which being publishing an ESG (environmental, social and governance) score that measures company performance - used by socially conscious investors when determining whether they should invest in it or not. 

    Burberry currently holds an ESG score of 13.8 (as at January 1, 2019), which is an excellent rating. This indicates that Burberry has effective policies and practices in place to protect people and the environment, along with transparency and disclosure measures and an ongoing dedication to improving supply chain practices. 

    Burberry is not only committed to reducing its own carbon footprint, but they are helping other businesses become more sustainable as well. Their luxury label recently launched a fund dedicated to investing in projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere (such as reforesting areas affected by wildfires in Australia) in order to reduce climate change - it marks the first time ever that such commitment has been made by a major fashion retailer!

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    The brand is also taking steps to enhance the traceability of leather in its supply chain, with plans to source all its leather from tanneries with environmental, traceability and social compliance certifications by next year. Furthermore, they have set themselves the goal of reducing hazardous chemicals by 25% while simultaneously implementing recycling technology. 
    Fashion has learned its lesson when it comes to Mother Earth in recent years, as evidenced by an increase in sustainable clothing labels. Luxury brand Burberry is leading this movement towards more eco-friendly designs by offering eco-friendly products and embracing circular design practices - and adding pistachio-colored eco-labels into its designs so consumers can more easily identify clothing that has positive environmental impacts. 
     

    Sustainability targets

    Burberry stands out among fashion brands by setting ambitious environmental and social impact goals for itself. By 2022, it aims to become carbon neutral within its own operations while it works towards becoming climate positive by 2040 - while investing in initiatives designed to bring positive change within fashion industry. Furthermore, in 2020 Burberry became one of the first luxury peers to issue a sustainability bond in order to raise funds necessary to implement its goals. 

    Although some goals have been accomplished, there remains much work to do before becoming net zero. One key challenge lies in reducing emissions related to its extended supply chain or scope 3, such as production of raw materials and manufacturing of finished goods. Such emissions may be difficult to measure for businesses with complex supply chains that produce their goods on-demand. 

    Burberry has implemented a strategy designed to lower their scope 3 emissions that is focused on long-term relationships with suppliers and persuading them to upgrade their energy efficiency and switch to renewables. Burberry is also prioritizing traceability of leather supplies by procuring all its leather from tanneries that possess environmental, social compliance, and traceability certifications. 

    This company is also actively taking steps to reduce its waste production, which accounts for much of its overall footprint. Their retail bags are reusable, their boxes made of certified Forest Stewardship Council recycled paper and hangers recycled; upcycled coffee cups used as packaging; all these actions put them on track towards meeting their goal of reducing waste by 40% by 2022. 

    This company has taken measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing renewable electricity use and switching over to electric vehicles, and by gradually transitioning away from using exotic animal skin, fur, hair, and down feathers in its products as they believe such materials to be cruel, unethical and environmentally harmful, contributing both greenhouse gases production and overfishing. 
     

    Sustainability report

    Burberry is a luxury fashion brand widely recognized for its dedication to sustainability. Their products can be seen worn by both celebrities and business leaders, and Burberry boasts an extensive social media presence dedicated to sustainable initiatives. Furthermore, Burberry supports youth charities globally to give young people access to educational opportunities and job training--which helps reduce poverty and inequality while developing future leaders. 

    In its latest sustainability report, this company demonstrated significant progress toward meeting its climate change goals. Notably, carbon emissions intensity was reduced by 35% year over year - further evidence that they have made meaningful steps toward their zero waste goals and climate positive status by 2040 commitments. 

    Alongside their operations, this company is actively taking steps to lower emissions throughout its supply chain. As part of the Make Fashion Circular Initiative and in collaboration with Elvis & Kresse to recycle 120 tonnes of leather scraps into new products; additionally they have removed fur and exotic animal skin designs from their designs altogether. 

    One of the greatest challenges associated with fashion's environmental footprint is producing and disposing of products that remain unsold after production is complete. Burberry's new strategy to address this challenge centers around circularity and sustainability; specifically purchasing less raw material while using more recycled fabric. Furthermore, Burberry has collaborated with British Fashion Council in an initiative encouraging sustainable textile use. 

    This company has significantly intensified efforts to educate employees on sustainability. They have established a finance team dedicated to this topic and are investing in their employees' skillsets. Furthermore, they have assembled a global network of external experts that monitor regulatory developments and can offer guidance to suppliers. 

    As part of its ongoing effort to reduce its carbon footprint, the company has implemented various renewable energy sources into its operations and made supply chains more transparent and engaging by including sustainability targets in supplier agreements as well as publishing a guide on responsible procurement.

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