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Bestseller Seeks to ‘Bend the Curve’ on Climate Change

Bestseller announced Tuesday the approval of two science-based climate targets, a move the fashion retailer says puts it  “one validated step closer” to becoming “climate positive” and removing more carbon emissions from the atmosphere than it emits.

The company, which also owns the Jack & Jones, Mamalicious and Vero Moda brands, has committed to reducing its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent and its Scope 3 greenhouse-gas emissions from purchased goods and services and transportation by 30 percent from a 2018 baseline by 2030, bringing it in line with the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius or under.

Climate change, said Anders Holch Povlsen, Bestseller’s CEO and owner, is “deeply embedded” in the retailer’s sustainability strategy, dubbed Fashion FWD, which it launched in 2018 to meet the “immediate need for inclusive and holistic action” on sustainability. The imprimatur of the Science Based Targets initiative, along with clear and measurable key performance indicators, he added, will help Bestseller know if it’s on track and “where to accelerate changes” following a full year of measuring progress.

“The targets add to our continuous work of improving the environmental footprint of our products, operations and supply chain—while they are consistent with the latest climate science and align our business with the planetary needs,” he said in a statement. “They amplify that our only way forward is to decouple our use of natural resources from our growth.“

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Bestseller generated roughly 2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent across its full value chain in 2018, the company said. The vast majority—95 percent—of its carbon burden stems from Scope 3, a category that includes facilities and activities not within its direct control. According to a breakdown, yarn and fabric production make up the biggest share of its climate impact at 29 percent, followed by the use of sold products (26 percent) raw material (21 percent), garment manufacturing (9 percent) and transport (8 percent), own operations (5 percent) and end of life (2 percent).

While it’s “already on its way” to reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions through reductions in energy consumption and the use of renewable energy, Scope 3 poses the greater and more imperative challenge, sustainability manager Dorte Rye Olsen said.

“We now know our goals, but we don’t yet have all the answers for how to reach them,” she said. “It is very important that we put a lot of focus on the impact created outside our direct scope, hence what our products are made of, how they are produced and how customers are caring for—and prolonging the life of—garments; we must continue to source and innovate more sustainable materials and build circularity into our products, and we must work collaboratively with our supply chain partners to transition to a low-carbon economy.”

To that end, Bestseller, which is among a coterie of brands looking to divert post-production waste in Bangladesh to the creation of new fashion items, is “accelerating” the development of “next-generation preferred materials” and investing in improving the way its products are made, Olsen said.

“Now we need to intensify all our efforts even more and involve all colleagues and partners in our climate strategy,” she said, noting that better data management could help it make more optimal decisions. “Working with sustainability and climate targets starts with people. Our organization, suppliers, partners, customers and other stakeholders are essential to catalyze change to decarbonize our business and our industry as such.”

The next decade will be key in terms of “bending the curve on climate change” and mitigating its worst effects, Povlsen said, before adding that “carbon neutrality” could soon become a corporate status quo.

“We take responsibility for our company and everyone involved. But we cannot stand alone,” he said. “The private business sector has a vital role to play in driving down greenhouse-gas emissions. In the future, everyone should have to prove carbon neutrality. Prove you’re not subtracting from the natural world. Using science-based targets is one of the ways to demonstrate exactly that.”