Natural Capital Evaluation

A responsible use of natural resources is a prerequisite for a sustainable management. Fact-based knowledge of the environmental impacts of corporate activities is important for developing sustainable, innovative solutions in this respect. To calculate its own environmental impact, HUGO BOSS has therefore been carrying out life cycle assessments analyses since 2009, this means systematic analyses of the environmental impact of products throughout their entire life cycle. This could be realised for all HUGO BOSS product categories. Yet, this application of life cycle assessments is challenging for HUGO BOSS as is generally the case for the industry. This is due to the difficulty of reliably collecting data along the complex value chain.

For this reason, HUGO BOSS founded together with Quantis, a consulting firm for life cycle assessments, and other partners the World Apparel & Footwear Life Cycle Assessment Database (WALDB) (Details can be found here). More than 300 sets of data on the environmental impact of clothing products and footwear have already been collected. These are based on primary partner data and scientific studies and are continuously expanded. This large database makes it possible to draw up reliable and high-quality life cycle assessments as well as the presentation of the environmental impacts of the various supply chain processes identified from them, such as CO2 emissions or the use of water or land. However, direct comparison of the extent of these environmental influences and the resulting ranking is hardly possible due to the different units depending on the environmental impact, such as kg (CO2 emissions) or m2 (landuse), in which they are stored in the system.

For this reason, HUGO BOSS has begun to apply the so-called "Natural Capital Protocol" – a framework of the multi-stakeholder forum "Natural Capital Coalition". The application enables HUGO BOSS to translate the environmental impacts, which are assessed on the basis of life cycle assessments, into monetary values and thus to make them comparable. In this way, factors with the greatest impact can be identified in the value chain of HUGO BOSS and strategies for minimizing the environmental impact can be developed based on these factors. 

In the raw material extraction process, cotton can be identified as the raw material with the highest environmental impact, a so-called hotpot, for HUGO BOSS. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that cotton is the most frequently used material in HUGO BOSS products with a share of around 50%. In addition, cotton is a raw material that has relatively high environmental impacts due to the water and chemical consumption required for cultivation. The HUGO BOSS Cotton Commitment shows in detail the challenge of cultivating sustainable, high-quality cotton. In order to continuously increase the proportion of sustainable cotton in its products, HUGO BOSS joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2017. Quantitative targets for the use of sustainable cotton at HUGO BOSS up to 2020 can be found here.

All in all, the wet processes have the highest environmental impact due to the high use of energy, water and chemicals for bleaching, dyeing, washing and tanning of leather. These impacts are mainly connected to climate change and human health, this means the impact of the processes on humans. In order to further reduce these effects of the chemical processes, HUGO BOSS has joined the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) and the Leather Working Group (LWG) initiatives. Both initiatives offer essential training for the optimized handling of chemicals and, in particular, new innovative methods.

To reduce the effects in the dry processes, which include spinning, knitting, weaving and assembly, HUGO BOSS applies the GSCP Environmental Performance Program (see HUGO BOSS Environmental Program). It contains specific guidelines for environmental management systems, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies to counteract climate change.

HUGO BOSS is also making efforts to reduce its environmental impact in the further stages of the value chain that are not directly related to the product (logistics, administration and its own retail business). Further information can be found in the section: Environment

The research works on the topic of natural capital evaluation have been published in two so-called white papers, which contain a detailed presentation of the method (in the first white paper) and the results (in the second white paper) (see downloads).

In cooperation with other partners, HUGO BOSS has begun to extend the evaluation to social and economic factors in order to obtain a holistic assessment of the various influences (impact evaluation). We are actively looking for opportunities to work together with partners from the textile and clothing sector, but also from other industries. In this way, we want to further optimize our approach of impact evaluation with regard to all three dimensions of sustainability: ecology, social and economic aspects.

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