This article was first published Thursday, January 28 while waiting on clarifications from Gucci. It has since been updated to include new information provided by the brand.
Last week, Gucci announced its “Natural Climate Solutions Portfolio,” a plan for the company to improve its impact on the environment.
Gucci’s outline is a little dense so we broke it down into its three main sections; regenerative agriculture, reducing or offsetting emissions, and improving the materials the brand uses.
Below, we attempt to digest the portfolio to see clearly what Gucci is actually doing with its climate plan — as we will be doing for all brand sustainability initiatives going forward. As you can see, it wasn’t easy.
Regenerative agriculture is a practice that attempts to balance a farm’s ecosystem, paying attention to water and fertilizer use, to make sure that the soil stays healthy and thus can continue to be farmed. Gucci is working with groups, Conservation International, South Pole, and Native, to identify farms that can be converted to regenerative farming, with the aim to start sourcing raw materials from these farms.
Gucci is also funding two "carbon farming" projects outside of its supply chain, where the company has pre-purchased carbon credits to give farmers the incentive and the initial funds to shift to regenerative practices. Run by farming company Native, the projects will convert over 32,000 hectares of land to regenerative farming. One example is a wool farm in Patagonia, which will convert 1,800 hectares of grasslands to regenerative grazing.
Gucci states that since 2018 the brand and its supply chain is carbon neutral (We could not find details of Gucci's entire supply chain to confirm that claim, though some factors are outlined here.). Gucci achieves carbon neutrality from a mixture of reducing emissions through sustainable practices and offsetting excess carbon emissions.
Between 2018 and 2019, Gucci reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent, if you discount the emissions produced by growth. If you take growth into account, there was also a decrease in total emissions in that same time period. (However, in that case, the outcome would be less than the reported 18 percent, though the exact number is unclear.) This is based on Gucci's own annual Environmental Profit and Loss Account, which takes into account emissions directly produced by Gucci and indirect emissions occurring in the brand’s supply chain( otherwise known as scopes 1, 2, and 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol).
The brand’s stores, offices, warehouses, and factories are 83 percent renewable energy certified, with a goal to increase that to 100 percent for 2022. The company is supporting its suppliers with the switch to green energy. Gucci is also set to announce more initiatives around green energy and its supply chain in the coming months, so watch this space.
As part of its carbon offsetting, Gucci is “compensating for residual emissions” by supporting REDD-plus [reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation] projects.
Begining in 2018, Gucci has put millions of euros per year into these projects. This year, it will continue to support a project in Kenya's Chyulu Hills, and will also fund a Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe. Both projects aim to protect endangered wildlife while supporting the local community.
Gucci also invested in the Muskitia Blue Carbon REDD+ project in Honduras, a project that is set to protect nearly 5,000 hectares of mangroves and more than 285,000 hectares of forest from deforestation. Mangroves store up to ten times more carbon than mature forests so they are particularly well equipped to filter the air, however, it's estimated that 30-50 percent of the world's mangroves have disappeared. In addition, Gucci joined The Lion’s Share Fund last February which aims to contribute to the protection of endangered species and their natural habitats.
Gucci will increase its sustainable sourcing (taking into account traceability, social welfare, environmental protection, animal welfare, and chemical use as outlined in Gucci’s parent company Kering corporate standards) with a goal to have 100 percent sustainable sourcing by 2025.
It will increase its use of recycled and regenerated materials including nylon, cotton, cashmere, polyester, precious metals, plastic, and packaging. All products now come in recyclable packing and all paper and cardboard come from FSC-certified sustainably managed forests. It also plans to increase its use of organic raw materials (in 2019, 48 percent of cotton used in its Ready-To-Wear collections was organic).
Gucci has already introduced a range of manufacturing processes aimed to reduce its environmental impact, and it will increase these projects over the year. Examples already in place include changes to its leather production like metal and chrome-free tanning and its “Scrap-less” process which minimizes leather waste in production.
Last year, the company teamed up with The RealReal, to launch a Gucci consignment store and encourage people to buy secondhand. It also launched Gucci Circular Lines, a project designed to support circular production within the company. As part of this, Gucci released a capsule collection called Off The Grid, which was made with recycled, organic, bio-based, and sustainably sourced materials.