Ralph Lauren is augmenting its efforts to combat climate change.
On Tuesday, the American fashion empire announced the goal of bringing its greenhouse gas emissions down to net zero by 2040—building on its previously stated commitment to lower those emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
In detailing the new objective, Ralph Lauren outlined a strategy not only for slashing emissions but also hitting other advanced sustainability targets. The plan involves scaling investments with nature-based carbon removal operations, including a partnership with Indigo Ag, which develops biological and digital technologies to help farmers improve the sustainability of their crops.
“Climate change is one of the most complex and challenging issues of our time—one that will require innovation, collaboration, technology and a fundamental shift in behavior to solve,” Patrice Louvet, Ralph Lauren Corporation’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our net zero goal and roadmap are anchored in our belief that through deliberate action we can deliver the change required to reduce our climate impact and help create a more sustainable future for generations to come.”
The crux of Ralph Lauren’s net-zero approach involves drastic cuts to scope one and two emissions, which include direct greenhouse gas emissions associated with fuel combustion, and indirect emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat or cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The company plans to mitigate these outputs by moving to 100 percent renewable power in its stores, offices and distribution centers by 2025, it said.
In order to reduce impact due to scope three emissions, which are the result of operations not controlled or owned by Ralph Lauren, the company plans to collaborate with its factory suppliers through collective actions, implementing strategic programs that will drive down greenhouse gases across manufacturing facilities.
The company announced forward-looking plans to expand emissions reduction tactics through further collaboration with its suppliers, ultimately setting forth a standardized approach to carbon reduction at the factory level. The aim, it said, is to empower its partners to establish their own climate strategies.
When it comes to raw materials, Ralph Lauren said it would switch to preferred fibers that emit less carbon waste than conventionally grown fibers.
Beyond making greenhouse gas-busting revisions to its supply chain, the company said it would offset any residual emissions through the purchase of high-quality and verifiable carbon removals. The Indigo Ag partnership will begin in the 2022 fiscal year, the company said, and through the organization’s Indigo Carbon program, Ralph Lauren can purchase agricultural carbon credits that support farmers looking to adopt more environmentally beneficial farming practices. The program also measures and validates the resulting carbon sequestration and abatement, Ralph Lauren explained.
The U.S. officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement following a day-one executive order by President Biden, but Ralph Lauren was already committed to adhering to the treaty’s goals and metrics, using the framework to build out its net-zero pledge and its Design the Change global citizenship and sustainability strategy.
A year-in-review report shows that Ralph Lauren is on track to meet its 2023 goal of diverting all distribution center, store and office waste from landfills, having achieved 85 percent success within the past fiscal year. The company has achieved one-third of its goal of sourcing all key materials sustainably by 2025, including animal-derived materials, which must be certified to an animal welfare standard and be fully traceable. Within the same time frame, the company is aiming for full recyclability, reusability or sustainable sourcing for its packaging materials. As of the report’s release, 54 percent of packaging meets these standards.
Additionally, the company met its objective to train all of its design, production and merchant teams on sustainable, circular and culturally inclusive and aware design during the 2021 fiscal year, Ralph Lauren said. Meanwhile, the company aims to offer empowerment and life-skills programs to 250,000 workers across its supply chain, increasing factory leadership roles for women by one-quarter by 2025. The company said was able to target 19,800 individuals with these programs and advancements over the course of the past fiscal year.
“The convergence of the global pandemic, climate crisis and call to action to dismantle systemic racism has been a catalyst for businesses around the world to focus and accelerate their progress toward a more equitable and sustainable future,” Louvet and Ralph Lauren, the company’s executive chairman and creative director, wrote. “Amid all the challenges we faced this year emerged a spirit of resilience, dedication and passion that has helped us to not only make progress on our goals and commitments, but accelerate our momentum.”