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- October 23, 2019 -

Green Supply Chain News: Ranks 45 Apparel Companies on Carbon Emissions


Progress not Nearly Enough, Report Says, as it again Provides Its Filthy Fashion Scorecard

By The Green Supply Chain Editorial Staff

The Green Supply
Chain Says:

Fair or accurate or not, the brands are being judge. Will consumers care? That’s the multi-billion question.

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Companies across the globe are facing increasing scrutiny from environmental groups relative to the actual or perceived sustainability efforts.


That includes a new report from the organization that takes a critical look at sustainability in the global apparel sector – and ranking 45 brand companies from top to bottom. It’s the third such annual analysis from the organization.


The title of the report – “Filthy Fashion Scorecard” – offers a clear indication of’s point of view.


“It’s 2019 and much of the fashion industry is still a flaming hot mess when it comes to human rights, toxic materials and climate pollution,” the report says.


The apparel industry is responsible for 8.1% of the world’s total carbon emissions, and that number is expected to grow by nearly 60% by 2030, the report says.  To get to these numbers, the report notes that much apparel is made in countries such as China and Vietnam, countries where the majority of the energy grid is powered by coal.


To help save the planet from global warming, “we must transform the entire fashion industry,” the report says, adding that “The fashion industry needs to wean itself off fossil fuels entirely in the next few decades, beginning with an immediate and rapid transition to renewable energy.”


The report notes there has been some progress, with more than 100 brands and retailers now members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an industry group that pioneered the Higgs Index to measure the environmental and social impacts of the industry.


In addition, 24 textiles, apparel and luxury goods companies have agreed to set third-party approved climate targets as part of a process called the Science-Based Targets Initiative. Many more are starting to measure their carbon footprint and embark on sustainability audits.


Then last December, 57 companies signed onto the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, including major brands such as Nike, Gap, Puma, Adidas, H&M, and Target.


While such moves are to be applauded, the report says, signing onto one of these initiatives doesn't guarantee that a company will implement different and sufficient changes to climate policy.

It notes, for example, that many apparel companies are relying on carbon offsets to claim "carbon neutrality" - but says offsets alone do little to actually mitigate the climate crisis and instead provides a greenwashing front.


In fact, the says that “Levi Strauss & Co. and American Eagle Outfitters are the only leading brands that have announced climate commitments that fully meet the scale of the challenge at hand.”


Leading to the report’s ranking of 45 major brands on sustainability, along a number of dimensions across three main categories:

  • Direct emissions from owned and controlled operations and the energy used to power them (also called scope 1 and 2 emissions)
  • Renewable energy in owned and controlled operations
  • Long term global supply chain emissions reductions – a plan for 2050
  • Some bonus points for supplier incentives for sustainability, goals for 50% renewable energy by 2035, and/or low carbon material sourcing programs

The report comments that in scoring “Companies did not receive points for false climate solutions - easy measures that look good on paper but fail to tackle carbon pollution in the real world.”


With that, the rankings themselves, with brands organized in tiers based on how many – or in some cases how few – points they we allotted in the’s approach.



Fair or accurate or not, the brands are being judge. Will consumers care? That’s the multi-billion question.


The report does note that before releasing this report card to the public, actively engaged participating companies in a dialogue regarding their sustainability policies, current carbon emissions, and future goals. It says all of the brands included in this report were shown a draft grade and given the opportunity to provide with their most current commitments and active emissions reduction work.


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