Opportunities to decarbonise fashion supply chains
We acknowledge that the overall value chain is super complex and uncontrollable. Therefore, decarbonisation might only be feasible for parts of the production. Nevertheless, we see some actions that the fashion industry can dive into right away. We do acknowledge that the solutions might look different between companies – especially when targeting the mass market.
We have identified and outlined some of the major challenges and consequent opportunities related to up- and downstream supply chain/own operations decarbonisation.
Upstream supply chain decarbonisation
- Facilitating supplier dialogue to incentivise target setting for the decarbonisation of material production and improved material mix, processing and garment manufacturing, consequently steering focus towards minimising production and manufacturing waste.
- Ensuring supplier engagement and partnerships on innovation projects with suppliers from tier 1 and beyond.
- Routinely screening suppliers based on sustainability targets to ensure compliance with own sustainability targets.
- Engaging in innovations such as substituting virgin materials with new sustainable fabrics will really reduce the negative impact.
Own operation decarbonisation
- Planning and operational efficiency to minimise returns, reduce overproduction and waste creation.
- Initiating a materiality assessment, carbon baseline and material lifecycle cost to identify best sustainable option for decarbonisation.
- Data collection and monitoring for reporting to ensure optimised and automatised emission reduction and reporting tasks.
- Training and capability building to close the gap of employees’ lack of knowledge and improve choices on product development.
- Creating support initiatives that enable refurbishment of apparel, production of long-lasting products, instauration of reward programme for consumers and embrace initiatives such as manufacturing to order.
- KPI setting and monitoring to control, monitor and improve sustainability targets year by year.
- Promoting a sales platform for reselling, incentives for second-hand use and sales.
Downstream supply chain
- Ensuring renewable fuelled or electrified distribution from suppliers and to clients.
- Educating consumers in choices, use of products and impact of the products. Promoting washing and drying actions.
- Promoting recycling and textile collection to feed and actively support businesses working with transforming waste to new raw material.
Bold commitments towards a change in business logic
To meet the targets of 1.5-degree reduction according to the Paris Agreement, the fashion industry should not only strive to decarbonise existing value chains. To ultimately succeed, the winning aspiration needs to go beyond the linear business logic, which involves redefinition of business models into circular ones that generate growth decoupled from resource consumption. A fully decarbonised value chain that continues to drive mass consumption of finite resources will simply not solve the bigger problem – neither will a circular value chain if it is based on “dirty” operations.
Therefore, the fashion industry must combine both supply chain decarbonisation quests and business model redefinition initiatives. Only in this way will we see a fashion industry that is truly promoting responsible consumption and growth according to the Paris Agreement. Meeting the 1.5-degree reduction is not only a matter of long-term profit maintenance but also a commitment towards our planet and people for a truly respectful triple bottom line.