The 2023 Scorecard found an industry with more commitments to act, but still only a few pockets of progress toward supply chain decarbonisation.
Overall, progress over the past 18 months has been insufficient and extremely disappointing. 51% of the total 43 companies assessed received an overall grade within the D range (D- to D+). 32% of companies assessed received an overall grade within the C range (C- to C+). Only one company received a grade of B-. Shockingly, despite the targeted emissions cut of 55% being only seven years away (2030), six companies received an overall grade of F.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continued to rise on average compared to pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturing remains extremely emissions intensive. Targets to decarbonise have not translated into effective actions. Continued emissions growth in part reflects a failure by the majority of brands to prioritise phasing out coal and other fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy sources quickly enough. This is the most effective means identified to quickly and cheaply slash emissions by nearly half.
The majority of brands showed a lack of willingness to publicly disclose salient supply chain information. This included updates on the fossil fuel and renewable energy mix used in their supply chains; details about their raw materials mix and suppliers; and, relevant aspects of their supply chain engagement including the provision of training, and financial or other support to suppliers to mitigate against short-term difficulties. More than two thirds of brands did not report providing suppliers with sufficient information, support, and resources to make greener choices.
Brands have been slow to cut out fossil fuel derived fibres such as virgin polyester, and overwhelmingly, major fashion companies are providing no more than lip service when it comes to increasing product circularity at scale and tackling overproduction. Synthetic fabrics account for 69% of all materials used in textiles and are projected to account for 75% by 2030. Considering the high environmental footprint of synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, using plant-based and longer-lasting materials and reducing demands on synthetic fibres are key to creating sustainable fashion.
By failing to act in an urgent and equitable manner to decarbonise, major fashion brands are not meeting their climate responsibilities. In 2022, exports from major manufacturing countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and Bangladesh grew significantly from 2021. Failure by brands to support the transition to renewables while increasing energy demand will further entrench fossil fuel infrastructure and lock in harmful health and climate impacts for decades to come. For decades, major fashion companies based in the Global North have profited from rising GHG emissions and pollution caused by manufacturing processes in their supply chains. Fashion brands have a responsibility to finance and advance a just energy transition, including for workers and communities.
Robust policy and legal measures enforced by multilateral bodies and governments are required to ensure a rapid and just energy transition off of fossil fuels and toward renewable energy use. Strong leadership is desperately needed in the sector, but this is emerging too slowly. The data reported by the 2023 Scorecard is proof that voluntary commitments from fashion companies and industry-led bodies are clearly no longer enough.
Company Key Findings
The average grade across the 2023 Scorecard barely crossed the threshold of a D+, only a small improvement on the D- average in the 2021 Scorecard.
H&M reported the most progress relative to its peers in setting ambitious climate and energy targets across its supply chain, promoting the renewable energy transition with its suppliers, and advocating globally for the renewable energy transition. However, it still has a lot of work to do to reduce the massive impact of its raw materials and fast-fashion business model. H&M achieved a B- overall.
Six companies (SHEIN, Boohoo, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, MEC, Richemont) received a grade of F, having failed to disclose taking any meaningful action to decarbonise their supply chains.
Top Sub-Sector Key Findings
H&M making progress towards decarbonising its supply chain, but fast fashion competitors Inditex (Zara), Fast Retailing (UNIQLO), Boohoo, Primark, and SHEIN lagging far behind.
- While H&M (B-) still has significant work to do in improving circularity in its business model, it demonstrated the most progress in prioritising renewable energy and supply chain decarbonisation, pulling far ahead of its fast fashion competitors Boohoo (F), SHEIN (F), Fast Retailing (D-), Inditex (D+), and Primark (D).
Luxury brands lacking ambition on renewables and failing on transparency.
With the exception of Kering (Gucci, Balenciaga) (C), luxury brands performed poorly across the board. Luxury brands were held back by a notable lack of supply chain transparency and supplier engagement, with Richemont (Chloé), Salvatore Ferragamo, and Prada all awarded an F, and Capri Holdings (Michael Kors, Versace, Jimmy Choo), Armani, and Chanel receiving a D-.
Athletic brands making progress on renewables; still heavily reliant on fossil fuel fashion.
- Despite some progress from their peers, sportswear group Amer Sports (Salomon, Arc’teryx) (D-) and Under Armour (D-) are still lagging far behind other athletic brands, performing especially poorly in the key category of low-carbon materials and circularity.
- PUMA (C+) showed the most progress towards the energy transition through a meaningful commitment and action to promote supply chain renewable energy.
Fast-growing athleisure brand lululemon (C-) reported progress on beginning to work with its supply chain towards decarbonisation, but still lags behind its competitors on setting ambitious climate and energy commitments.
Five Category Specific Key Findings
The 2023 Scorecard measures the performance of global brands across the following five categories and 2030 benchmarks. These five categories correspond to Stand.earth’s Roadmap to Fossil Free Fashion, which identified five critical focus areas and corresponding metrics to assess the ambition and response of global fashion brands to the climate emergency.
The categories are as follows:
Brands’ emissions targets are still not in line with the 1.5°C emissions scenario, and actual emissions are going up.
- Still, only five out of 43 companies (ASICS, H&M, Levi’s, Mammut and REI) have set supply chain emissions reduction targets of 55% or greater by 2030 to be in line with the 1.5°C emissions scenario.
- All 23 signatories of the renewed UN Fashion Charter have committed to phase out thermal coal from their supply chains by 2030, which is an important step. However, transparency on progress toward their targets is still lacking, and the Charter does not address the use of coal-fired power generation within their supply chains.
- Despite a slight rise in commitments to reduce emissions compared to the 2021 Scorecard, emissions across the board are still going up, with a total emissions rise of 20% between 2019 and 2022.
- The top scoring brand in this category, H&M, received a B for setting ambitious climate targets and a 100% renewable energy goal across its entire value chain. Columbia, Amer Sports, and MEC were the lowest scorers (F to D-) for their missing or inadequate climate targets and lack of transparency.
- The average grade across all of the brands was a disappointing C.
Supply chain renewable energy still lacking ambition and transparency.
- Transitioning to renewable energy in the supply chain is essential for cutting manufacturing emissions, but it has still not been prioritised by brands.
- Only five companies (ASICS, Allbirds, H&M, Kering, PUMA) have stepped up by committing to power their manufacturing using renewable energy. However, transparency into supply chain energy use is still lacking – only PUMA and Nike provide data on the energy used by their suppliers.
- Financial support for the energy transition is insufficient. Only 13 brands report providing any kind of financial support or incentive to their suppliers, and levels of support vary in effectiveness.
- H&M, Nike, PUMA, and ASICS reported significant elements of effective engagement with their suppliers, receiving B- in this category. However, many brands have yet to show any meaningful signs of engaging with suppliers to decarbonise, and 15 brands received an F grade.
- The average grade across the category was a disappointing D.
High-impact renewable energy advocacy growing in frequency, although limited to a few key players.
- H&M and REI were both awarded an A+ for their advocacy, with H&M playing the most active role in international renewable energy advocacy.
- In addition, the majority of high value advocacy was undertaken by a small subset of companies, including New Balance (A), followed by Levi’s, VF Corporation, Ralph Lauren, Gap Inc., and Amazon (B), and Kering, Eileen Fisher, and Patagonia (C).
- The average grade in this category was D, however, and 12 of the brands (American Eagle Outfitters, Primark, Target, Fast Retailing, Chanel, ALDO, SHEIN, MEC, Richemont, Armani, LVMH, Boohoo) did not engage in any discernible renewable energy advocacy during the 2023 Scorecard period.
Recycled polyester and a lack of progress phasing out fossil fuel derived fabrics are driving materials greenwashing.
- None of the brands in the 2023 Scorecard have committed to phasing out fossil fuel based fabrics, although Eileen Fisher, Hugo Boss, Levi’s, and Ralph Lauren reported using less than 10% synthetic fibres in their material mix.
- Concerningly, 70% of brands are turning to recycled polyester from plastic bottles instead of using textile recycling or committing to phase out fossil fuel derived fabrics.
- Eileen Fisher scored highest with a B in this category, showing leadership through its minimal use of fossil fuel derived fibres and focus on circularity.
- In contrast, SHEIN scored lowest, receiving an F. It is not discernible that SHEIN is taking any meaningful steps in this area, and its business model is a major driver of throwaway fashion trends.
Shipping-related emissions increased as sustainable shipping strategies were not prioritised by brands.
- Upstream transportation (from point of sourcing to brand warehouses) and distribution emissions from apparel and footwear brands increased between 2019 and 2021, as brands turned to high-emitting aviation over slower methods during the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, there are few brands taking meaningful action.
- Almost half (21) of the companies assessed still do not have emissions targets related to transportation.
- Mammut scored the only B in this category as the only company to commit to zero-emissions shipping by 2030, while Amazon, Inditex, Patagonia, Target, and REI set the date too far in the future at 2040.
- The average grade across this category was only D-.
For Fashion brands:
- Actively engage with the supply chain to break free from fossil fuels and cut emissions. Where necessary, collaborate with other brands in the supplier network to support and empower suppliers to rapidly phase out coal, improve energy efficiency, transition to renewable energy, and improve transparency at the facility level into Tier 4.
- Create more equitable supplier relationships, including information sharing on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities, access to funding, preferable loan rates and long-term contracts which ensure stability during the transition.
For the UN Fashion Charter:
- Continue to strengthen its provisions aimed at reducing emissions, including by extending the renewable energy requirement to Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and implementing measures to ensure that signatory companies act with clarity, rigour, and transparency in meeting their pledges; for example, by producing detailed publicly accessible updates on their progress at least annually.
For States where Brands are Headquartered:
- Advance policy and/or regulatory provisions aimed at pushing a rapid and just energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward key renewable energy sources, including through the adoption of adequate transparency and accountability provisions.
For Governments and Companies actively supporting Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP)
- Ensure that environmental defenders and civil society organisations are able to safely, freely, and meaningfully contribute to the work needed to meet net zero emissions targets by 2050 without threats of retaliation or imprisonment.
- Among the 29 out of 43 companies that reported on their upstream (Scope 3 Category 1 and 4) emissions between 2019 and 2021. Emissions data was not continuously and/or consistently reported by the remaining 14 companies.
- “Net-Zero Challenge: The Supply Chain Opportunity” (World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group, January 21, 2021), https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Net_Zero_Challenge_The_Supply_Chain_Opportunity_2021.pdf.
- “Overconsumption in the Fashion Industry,” 2022, https://www.fashionrevolution.org/overconsumption-in-the-fashion-industry/.
- “The Fabric for Our Lives,” November 26, 2018, https://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/citizenscientist/the-fabric-for-our-lives/.
- See Background section for exports growth table.
- “Fashion Forward: A Roadmap to Fossil-Free Fashion,” August 20, 2020, https://stand.earth/resources/fashion-forward-a-roadmap-to-fossil-free-fashion/.
- See Methodology for more information on the criteria.
- “Emissions Gap Report 2020” (UNEP, UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre, January 12, 2020), https://www.unep.org/emissions-gap-report-2020.
- Total percentage change in emissions among 29 brands with publicly available “purchased goods and services” emissions data for 2019 and 2021. Emissions change of 3.54% excluding Amazon and Walmart, see Category 1 analysis.