Climate Week News and Noise: Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly and Climate Week in New York City (running Sept. 20 to 26), a number of companies have announced renewed sustainability ambitions.
While some progress is proven, other goals remain in limbo despite coming off the heels of a pressing U.N. report deploring the grave toll on climate.
On Monday, Amazon’s Climate Pledge (a commitment that notably marks net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than the Paris Agreement) added 86 new businesses to its roster. Now, more than 200 companies have signed onto the pledge marking more than $1.8 trillion in revenue.
Procter & Gamble, Selfridges, Holt Renfrew and Asos are among the Climate Pledge signatories. Separately, Asos and Primark are among the fast-fashion companies marking new individual sustainability ambitions. The companies, however, are receiving backlash for vague or open-ended goals.
Focusing on its dominant materials (cotton and polyester), Primark is pledging to increase its recycled materials, among other aims. Today, roughly 27 percent of its cotton is sourced through Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Program or is considered organic or recycled. (The company does not break down this percentage.)
In terms of regenerative agriculture, Primark has been working with its partner CottonConnect since 2013 to develop PSCP. By the end of next year, the program will have trained 160,000 farmers in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and aims for a 100 percent transition rate for uptake of regenerative practices by 2030. Practices include a range of activities that enrich soils and improve water management.
Another new formally stated goal of Primark’s (without a concrete timeline) is pursuing living wages for workers in its supply chain. While the company was not able to provide data for living wages for its top sourcing countries per WWD’s request, a spokesperson outlined a four-step process for the goal, calling on industry-wide collaboration with organizations like Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT).
In a separate announcement, fitness enthusiasts are seeing new sustainability aims on the horizon. For one, SoulCycle introduced its “SoulGreen” commitment to a more sustainable future across product, packaging and carbon footprint. Partnering with nonprofit Climate Neutral on its climate goals, SoulCycle joins Reformation, Nisolo, Wolven and more than 350 brands across 12 industries partnering with the nonprofit.
According to SoulCycle’s statement, the goal is to “lead the fitness community in the path toward climate neutrality.” Through the program, SoulCycle will be working to measure its footprint and take urgent steps toward its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2024. SoulCycle is also introducing SoulREcycle, a sock recycling program with UNIFI (manufacturer of Repreve recycled textiles). The program is put in place to recycle socks for riders (socks represent the largest unit sales for SoulCycle) and serve as feedstock for the company’s sustainable sock launching early next year.
The company also launched a capsule athletic collection featuring 100 percent recycled post-industrial cotton and organic dyes. The collection ranges from $52 to $128 and preludes the company’s phase out of virgin fabrics by 2023.
Estée Lauder Cos. Wins Energy Accolade: Estée Lauder Cos. has received a global award for leadership in green energy in the beauty sector.
The company won the second annual RE100 Leadership Awards’ “Enterprising Leadership Award,” acknowledging its progress and leadership in the global renewable energy transition.
“Beauty can and should be a leader in the space, and our hope is it will inspire other companies,” said Estée Lauder Cos. senior vice president of global corporate citizenship and sustainability Nancy Mahon.
Climate Group, in partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project, is behind the award and RE100 initiative. Estée Lauder Cos. is also a sponsoring organization to Climate Week (put on by Climate Group).
In November 2020, Estée Lauder Cos., whose targets are validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative, hit a carbon-neutral milestone amid the pandemic, achieving net zero carbon emissions in direct operations. The company sources 100 percent renewable electricity globally for its direct operations.
Since installing its first solar array in 2006, Estée Lauder Cos.’ renewable energy portfolio has grown. Two years ago, the company invested in U.S.-generated wind power in Oklahoma while adding rooftop on-site solar arrays at its facilities around the world. Mahon said the addition of local jobs and the demonstrated ability to sell energy back to the Texas state-regulated energy grid are ways the projects are creating impact.
“What we’re trying to do as companies is not just invest in green energy — but create green energy,” Mahon said. “The more companies focusing on green energy, the more we all benefit.”
Former Eileen Fisher Exec Heads Resale Route: Brand-owned resale platform Recurate recently nabbed another executive — this time from Eileen Fisher — for its mission of converting brands over to resale.
Former Eileen Fisher executive Cynthia Power joins Recurate as vice president of brand success. Prior to joining Recurate, Power worked at Eileen Fisher for 14 years, heading up their take back and resale program, Eileen Fisher Renew, for the last six years.
In May, Recurate hired former The RealReal executive Karin Dillie who joined the company as its vice president of partnerships, expanding new business opportunities.
Just this month, Rachel Comey became the latest brand to partner with Recurate, joining a roster of brands, among them La Ligne, Re/Done, Mara Hoffman and Spyder.