GUESS aims to integrate sustainable practices into our operations by focusing on product responsibility, being good water stewards, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Increasing the environmental sustainability of our products is a key priority for GUESS. We are making significant strides in considering the environment at every stage of the product lifecycle—from design and materials selection to end-of-life.
Although cotton is widespread and renewable, it is also highly resource intensive to produce and, due to climate change, its yields are declining. Meanwhile, the demand for cotton is increasing. In 2019, we launched our GUESS Responsible Sourcing Policy on Cotton to increase procurement of preferred cotton sources while working to improve traceability and avoid prohibited cotton sources from entering our supply chain.
Our preferred options include sourcing Better Cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), organic cotton, and other alternatives to conventional cotton (e.g., recycled cotton).
The GUESS Responsible Sourcing Policy on Manmade Cellulosic Fabrics, launched in 2018, was implemented to ensure the ethical sourcing of certain rayon/viscose, modal, and lyocell fabrics—fabrics that are linked to the destruction of ancient and endangered forests. We are also increasing the amount of man-made cellulosic materials we source from sustainably managed forests, closed loop systems and innovative material sources by partnering with innovative companies, suppliers, and organizations.
We continually assess new materials, technologies and processes that reduce environmental impacts while maintaining or even elevating the quality of our apparel. Our internal GUESS Responsible Materials Sourcing Guide provides guidelines and best practices for product designers and only products that meet these criteria can be marketed as GUESS Eco. For denim, this means using the latest technology to reduce water and/or chemical use, as well as including at least one sustainable material. For non-denim, products must be made with at least 25% certified sustainable materials and may also include a more sustainable production method.
GUESS first announced our commitment to Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitments in 2017. Since then, we’ve worked hard to promote circular fashion through customer product take-back, second-hand programs and new partnerships that aim to reduce apparel waste, promote reuse of materials, and preserve important natural resources otherwise used in production.
Our signature customer take-back program is an opportunity for our customers to bring in their unwanted clothing and shoes—from any brand—for recycling. RESOURCED is available at all GUESS stores in the U.S., and is facilitated by our ongoing partnership with I:Collect (I:CO®), an innovative global solutions provider for product take-back, reuse and recycling. Since May 2018, GUESS has collected nearly 100,000 kgs of product for recycling.
We have made a commitment to expand the RESOURCED program globally in 2020 to reach our targets for Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment. To learn more about the RESOURCED program, check out our video available on the GUESS YouTube channel and at www.GUESS.com/Resourced.
In April 2019, we released a #GUESSVintage assortment of authenticated GUESS vintage items sourced from around the globe. The launch of GUESS Vintage is part of our commitment to circular fashion, celebrating fashion that lasts while simultaneously avoiding the use of raw materials to produce a new product.
Our water footprint shows that one pair of denim jeans can use over 2,650 liters of water. We use water efficient technologies, reduce chemicals, and reuse materials to address water impacts through the denim lifecycle.
In 2018, we launched the GUESS Water Action Plan, addressing each phase of the denim lifecycle to prioritize water savings and water quality as well as water education and community engagement.
Responsible Cotton Sourcing
We are working to reduce cotton’s heavy water demands by procuring cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Having joined BCI in 2018, we are proud to support BCI’s water stewardship efforts that help farmers to produce cotton using more water efficient practices. Our goal is for 20% of our cotton to be procured as Better Cotton by 2020.
Through our denim targets for GUESS Eco denim, which uses the latest water saving technologies, we are working with denim laundry partners to invest in efficient water practices and encourage eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Some highlights of our eco-friendly manufacturing include:
Nanotechnology – Saves water by directly applying enzymes to garments to break down colors, rather than applying them in a larger wash cycle.
Laser – A cleaner way to distress denim that saves on chemical and water use.
GUESS seeks to work with business partners that employ responsible water use, discharge and chemicals management practices. This helps to ensure that the chemicals used in our supply chain and incorporated into our products do not negatively impact consumers, workers, or the environment.
Continuous improvement opportunities are also defined for suppliers. We’ve set a progressive timetable for suppliers to develop in-house wastewater treatment plans, including: providing evidence of wastewater testing and corrective action measures, maintaining a list of chemical formulations and regulated hazardous chemicals, and investing in new technologies and tools to use water more efficiently.
In 2018, GUESS worked with a group of key denim vendors to learn more about their practices and test whether our Water and Chemical Management Policy creates a positive impact by addressing supplier challenges on the ground. We included vendors in Mexico and Pakistan—regions identified in the GUESS Denim Water Footprint (in the GUESS FY2016 – 2017 Sustainability Report) as areas with higher water stress— to better understand water management practices in these regions.
The pilot project was designed to test the feasibility of a new water stewardship policy for denim by engaging with key denim laundry partners. The aim was to gain insight on the effectiveness and implementation of the policy on-the-ground. The results from the pilot project are now being implemented into our water and chemical stewardship actions.
The impacts of climate change are starting to be experienced globally. We assess our climate-related risks on an annual basis and are committed to measuring our carbon footprint, setting reduction targets, and reporting progress against those targets.
Our total FY2019 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for GUESS* operations at 1,133 facilities was 40,785 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e), which is equivalent to emissions from 8,659 passenger vehicles driven for one year**. This represents a 10% decrease in emissions intensity per square foot from our FY2016 baseline.
During the FY2018 – 2019 reporting period, we started to calculate our scope 3 carbon footprint. This currently includes waste data for our Los Angeles Headquarters, U.S. Distribution Center, and global inbound and outbound transportation. We are also focused on reducing carbon emissions at key supplier mills and currently have a special project in China in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps program to help develop this effort.
Energy efficiency is both an emissions reduction and cost-cutting measure. As one of our primary environmental impacts due to the number of facilities we control, we focus on conserving energy. Our past reporting detailed our ongoing LED lighting projects at our stores, distribution centers, and headquarters. We’ve continued to expand these initiatives, retrofitting or opening 100 LED stores since FY2017.
In FY2019, we launched a special project to retrofit 37 GUESS Factory stores—nearly 10% of our North American portfolio. These are our largest stores by square footage, and therefore consume the most energy and represent the greatest opportunity for energy reduction. In total, 38% of stores in North America and 35% of global stores are outfitted with LEDs.
We will continue implementing LEDs in all new locations, and rolling out the LED lighting project for all candidate stores.
The concept of circularity, as described on page 66, is not limited to fashion; we’re also working to increase recycling and reuse and reduce waste sent to landfill associated with our operations.
Waste & Recycling
In FY2018 and FY2019, our Guess U.S. corporate headquarters sent 262.6 tons and 232.6 tons of waste to landfill, respectively. This was a sharp decline from the 496.6 tons of waste sent to landfill in FY2017, which is largely attributed to construction activities that did not continue the following fiscal years. During these two years, we also steadily increased our mixed recycling rate by over 10%, from 73 .98 tons in FY2017 to 89 .29 tons in FY2019. As part of our strict adherence to safe handling practices for hazardous waste, in FY2018 – 2019 we recycled 1,423 light bulbs and 243 pounds of batteries at our Guess U.S. headquarters.
We’ve made great strides in improving the waste diversion efforts at our headquarters. By early 2019, we rolled out our corporate recycling program across 90% of the headquarter campuses, using a combination of communication and infrastructure to facilitate engagement and behavior change. To ensure a strong program, a Zero Waste expert did a walk-through of our campus and helped us set appropriate goals.
In acknowledgement of our efforts, we were recently awarded the RecycLA Star Award, a program administered by the Los Angeles City Board of Public Works to recognize business and apartment owners who embrace recycLA’s waste diversion opportunities.