Lululemon’s reliance on fossil fuels undermines sustainability claims, report finds

The model says it has carried out feasibility research for renewable vitality and is dedicated to eliminating any on-site use of coal by becoming a member of a coal phase-out working group led by the Attire Influence Institute and Reset Carbon in 2021 and by collaborating within the UN Style Business Constitution for Local weather Motion’s coal phase-out group, which is targeted on a 2030 objective. However ASL says its analysis suggests the corporate isn’t on monitor to attain that objective. At one provider (named within the report as Firm C), the vitality combine is 58 per cent coal, whereas one other, Firm A, elevated its coal consumption by 9.7 per cent between 2021 and 2022. Coal is used as an vitality supply for a minimum of 5 of Lululemon’s Tier 2 suppliers, the report states, and fossil fuels function within the vitality mixture of all 27.

“We haven’t seen a mobilisation of sources. If you happen to have a look at an instance similar to Puma, they report numerous particulars about how they’re serving to suppliers transition to renewables, and so they have interim renewable vitality targets for the provision chain. [Lululemon are] lagging behind their sportswear and style friends,” says MacGilp.

Misplaced efforts, misplaced particulars

Lululemon’s technique for renewable vitality in its provide chain was graded “shallow”, in NewClimate Institute’s (NCI) January 2024 report on the nuances of renewable vitality procurement. The one space it scored extremely in was sourcing 100 per cent renewable electrical energy for its personal operations — representing simply 0.3 per cent of its footprint.

“Sourcing renewable electrical energy for shops and workplaces… doesn’t make any vital distinction to decarbonising the sector,” says Thomas Day, local weather coverage professional at NewClimate Institute. “If corporations like Lululemon are severe about decarbonising the style trade and their product traces, then this implies decarbonising the usage of vitality within the manufacturing course of is the important thing concern to give attention to.”

Whereas Lululemon has a objective to scale back carbon emissions throughout its world provide chain by 60 per cent per unit of worth added by 2030 towards a 2018 baseline, the report says that its emissions will improve as its enterprise grows.

ASL acknowledges Lululemon’s commitments, however says particular particulars are sorely missing, echoing the reasoning behind NCI’s grading. It’s not clear how the corporate engages with its suppliers, whether or not it incentivises vitality transitions, or offers technical or monetary assist to allow them — all efforts that style manufacturers are dealing with elevated stress to have interaction in, as a result of they rely on suppliers to fulfill their sustainability targets however suppliers can’t afford to assist them achieve this with out assist. The technical or monetary assist may take a number of varieties similar to offering entry to finance by issuing inexperienced bonds linked to local weather targets or placing weight behind coverage advocacy in manufacturing nations to take away political obstacles.

Guarantees versus actions

ASL says it selected to focus its marketing campaign on Lululemon due to what it says is a contradiction between the model’s sustainability claims and the truth of its operations. Beneath its ‘Be Planet’ pillar, Lululemon says, “We’re dedicated to creating merchandise which might be higher in each method — for folks and the planet.” But interviews with communities native to the factories in query, alongside observations by researchers, paint an image of polluted waterways and darkish smoke billowing from chimneys, in accordance with the report.

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