Gucci is going carbon neutral. The Kering-owned brand announced on Thursday that it is upping the ante in its existing decade-long sustainability plan, and confirmed that it will be completely carbon neutral by the end of September. “A new era of corporate accountability is upon us and we need to be diligent in taking all steps to mitigate our impacts, including being transparent and responsible for our [greenhouse gas] emissions across our supply chains,” Gucci CEO Marco Bizarre revealed in connection with the brand’s headline-making declaration.
How exactly will Kering’s marquee label – a brand in the business of manufacturing garments and accessories on a multi-season basis – achieve carbon neutrality? Is it possible? It might be, and that is because carbon neutral is distinct from carbon free. Instead of promising not to emit carbon dioxide by way of its business, which would not be possible, Gucci is doing the next best thing: balancing its carbon emissions by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world, which is what carbon neutrality is all about.
Gucci claims that in addition to ensuring that its own in-house manufacturing operations are carbon neutral, it will “offset all greenhouse gases produced by its third party materials suppliers and manufacturers,” according to the New York Times. The Milan-based brand will offset these emissions, as well as other “unavoidable” ones, such as carbon dioxide usage from travel tied to its runway shows, by purchasing carbon credits to fund renewable energy efforts.
To be exact, Gucci’s “credits,” which will be tallied on an annual basis, will go towards funding forest conservation projects in developing countries by way of a United Nations initiative called REDD+.
As Fast Co.’s Elizabeth Segran wrote on Thursday, “It is very difficult to track how much carbon a fashion brand discharges because apparel and footwear supply chains are so vast and complex.” The exact calculation of emissions is often imprecise art because most companies “buy materials from middlemen,” thereby, making it difficult, if not impossible, to “trace them all the way back to their original source, like cotton fields or cattle farms.”
Segran notes that “while some brands are beginning to track how much they emit in their stores and offices, very few go all the way to their partner factories and raw materials.”
Bizzarri is not unrealistic about the task ahead, stating that “the only way we can have zero emissions is to shut our business,” something that would cost 18,000 people their jobs. Gucci is, nonetheless, the latest brand to try. “If we wait to be perfect, in terms of the calculation of impact or methodology, to me it’s just an excuse for not doing it,” he stated. “We just need to act. We are not perfect [and] it’s not a matter of saying we are the best, it’s a matter of showing it can be done, and hopefully [others] will follow this path.”