Last year we embarked on an ambitious journey. Possibly one of our most ambitious yet. Working closely with fellow B Corp, Green Element, we set out to map our entire carbon footprint as a business; from things that are easy to measure – like the energy consumption of our stores and headquarters – to things that aren’t, like measuring the emissions of our global supply chain.
Mapping Our Full Carbon Footprint
2 min read
Written by Zak Rayment
As a company that builds product, we know that everything we make has an impact on the planet. Whatever we source, however environmentally friendly the materials, the production of any garment will create carbon emissions. The unavoidable fact is, despite our best efforts to source the lowest impact materials and work with the most environmentally conscious manufacturers, we rely on a vast and complexly interwoven supply chain that extends from farms, to factories, all the way to Finisterre – all of which produce emissions.
Mapping out the full carbon impact of our business was going to be a challenge...
Enter Green Element. A fellow B Corp, they have over 20 years’ experience helping businesses to become more environmentally responsible, creating tools like Compare Your Footprint to provide organisations with an easier way to calculate the carbon footprint of their operations.
Our early conversations centred around how much of our business we could feasibly obtain emissions for... There were three scopes covering the different areas of our business that produce emissions. But what did these different scopes measure?
Scope 1 – All Direct Emissions
This covers any emissions directly produced by an organisation – this can be from any company vehicles, or from other gas emissions produced by boilers and air-conditioning.
Scope 2 – Indirect Emissions
This covers the emissions produced in the production of electricity that we use – that’s basically everything from keeping the lights on to heating, cooling and running the electronic devices we need to work on.
Scope 3 – All Other Indirect Emissions
This covers everything else. Yes, everything. Anything from our activities that we do not own or control. That’s the footprint of any materials we buy, the shipping of those materials, the manufacturing process that turns them into garments, the further shipping of the materials to be sold, even through to waste disposal.
With the experience of Green Element behind us we decided to do it all – map out the entire supply chain from raw material to finished product, covering every touch point in between. They said we were brave. They asked if we were sure? We could map out just Scopes 1 and 2, and still be within the legal boundaries to be able to claim carbon neutral status. In fact, that’s what most businesses do…
But surely that wouldn’t make sense? Even before we started hunting down the data, we knew that a huge portion of the emissions we as a company are responsible for would fall into Scope 3.
What we measured...
"We looked at the complete lifecycle of a Finisterre product, mapping absolutely everything from materials production, to manufacturing, delivery and even washing and disposal. Most clothing companies just would not do that. It’s really full-on."
- Liberty Bollen, Green Element
Did it take longer? Yes. Did we find some things we’d rather not have? Obviously.
We discovered that 93% of our emissions are produced in the supply chain – materials, transport, manufacturing & distribution – which is covered by Scope 3. Further to this, we found that 68% of those CO2 emissions come from the textiles themselves; from growing to processing and creating the fabrics.
The uncomfortable truth is, we produce a considerable amount of carbon making our clothes. But now, we know how much carbon. We know which areas are the impact hotspots and need our focus to reduce, and which ones will take longer or need more work. We are now armed with meaningful data and information that will enable us to target the areas we need to improve most, because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. We have since set science-based carbon targets aligned to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC cap on global heating. These targets have been officially validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and set us on course to reach science-based net zero by 2050.
Now the real work begins. Reducing our impact as we strive towards being a positive impact business. In 2022 we are focusing on building a further understanding of the impact of our materials with new product Life Cycle Assessments. We are also working with our supply chain partners to develop a collaborative carbon reduction plan.