Accurately calculating the environmental and social impact of a company is a complicated task. For the past 2 years we have been identifying, tracking and calculating some of the impacts we create, with the aim of both improving these impacts, and sharing our work to help better the industry.
This project is a constant work in progress. We can categorically say it is not a perfect calculation method, nor is it completely accurate. It is, however, a great starting point and has set the ball in motion for more accurate data and better tracking year on year.
As a growing company, the number of items we produce and sell is increasing annually. The impact this creates is on both the environment, and the people involved in the process. We feel it is our duty to understand the impact of this activity, to ensure we are operating in the most responsible way possible, while acting on damaging or unsustainable practices.
We are aligned with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) (https://sciencebasedtargets.org/) which helped us set goals backed by science. These goals are to reduce scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions 42% by 2030 from a 2020 base year, and to measure and reduce our scope 3 emissions. This alignment created a requirement to measure scope 1 & 2 impacts, in order to construct a reduction target.
We are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and make use of the Higg Index (https://higg.com/) to measure parts of our impact. In 2020 and 2021 we predominantly used the ‘Product Module’ to estimate the environmental impact of some of our products. This platform is the backbone of our work to calculate our scope 3 emissions.
The adoption of the SBTi goals and the use of the Higg Index simultaneously allowed us to construct both a high-level perspective of our impact (in greenhouse gas equivalent units) and a product-level perspective across multiple impact areas (such as water use and eutrophication). By identifying both perspectives we can look at ways of managing our impact on a variety of scales.
You can learn more about the Higg Index definitions here.
We calculated scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions though internal sourcing of key metrics such as company vehicle use, office energy and office heating. This was collated and applied to the GHG Emission Calculation Tool (https://ghgprotocol.org/calculation-tools#cross_sector_tools_id) developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This was the main tool used for calculation.
For scope 3 emissions, we used internally sourced information to measure business travel and commuting, alongside the Higg index to measure a sample of our products. For the product data, we identified enough styles to represent over 80% of our production volume. These styles were accurately inputted within the Higg Index, and verified by our manufacturing partners. The resulting impact data was extrapolated alongside production volume data, to provide estimated impact data for the majority of our impact and scaled to create estimates for 100% of our production volume. The data was then extracted from the Higg Index and applied to the GHG Emission Calculation Tool along with scope 1 and 2 data.
We used the Scope 3 Guidance (https://ghgprotocol.org/scope-3-technical-calculation-guidance) developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to inform our decisions when calculating our scope 3 impact.
Using this method of calculation, we identified the following environmental impacts for 2020 and 2021:
Scope 1: 6 tonnes Co2e
Scope 2: 2.7 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3: 540,3 tonnes Co2e
Total: 549,1 tonnes Co2e
Scope 1: 12.5 tonnes Co2e
Scope 2: 2.7 tonnes Co2e
Scope 3: 1632.8 tonnes Co2e
Total: 1,648 tonnes Co2e
In line with the SBTi commitment we must reduce our scope 1 and 2 emissions by 42% by 2030, from a 2020 baseline. These results suggest taking our target emissions for 2030 to 3.49 tonnes Co2e for scope 1, and 1.61 tonnes Co2e for scope 2.
Scope 3 results relating to the products are more detailed, and span across multiple metrics. In early 2023, we aim to publish in-depth information about the impact of some of our products. Initial findings reveal a strong link between a products’ environmental impact, and it’s weight. This confirms that the initial stages of design and manufacture can play a large role in reducing environmental impacts. It also illustrates the importance of high-quality products which are used for a long time, and maintained well.
These calculations are based upon a series of estimations, averages and assumptions. Unfortunately the tools and resources we have as a company are limited, but growing. Industry-standard tools such as the Higg Index cannot take into account every specialism of our items, and therefore utilise best-in-class lifecycle data to estimate impacts. This lack of true data will be a prevailing barrier to completely accurate greenhouse gas emissions calculations in the coming years.
Another limitation of our approach is the lack of 3rd party validation. This validation and assurance would give more credit to our calculations. As of 2021 we have not validated our calculations, and openly state that these results are sef-measured using an evolving methodology. In the future our calculation will be validated to align with the industry-leading standards such as GRI Sustainability Reporting Verification.
Going forwards, our 2022 calculations will be performed using several refinement of the methodology. We will build upon our database of products within the Higg Index, taking in to account more styles, which will improve accuracy and reduce the need for assumption. The data within the Higg Index will be improved from 2021, further increasing accuracy and reliability. Our knowledge of our products is also constantly improving, allowing us to input accurate date into the Higg Index.
We have initiated processes internally to improve communication between our manufacturing partners, so we can quickly understand the composition, origin and processes within each item. With a process and data structure now created, we can focus more time on improving the accuracy and reliability of our calculations.
We openly accept feedback, advice, conversation and questions about this, at the following: firstname.lastname@example.org