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Zalando sets science-based sustainability targets

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The company has pledged that by 2025 it will reduce its operational carbon emissions by 80% and the carbon emissions that are a result of its private-label production by 40%. It has also committed to having 90% of its key partners set SBTs by the same date. 

In both cases, the SBTs have been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), which assesses companies’ targets and ensures that they are in line with the Paris Agreement. 

Kate Heiny, director sustainability at Zalando, told Drapers: “We really feel that in order to tackle the climate part of [Zalando’s sustainability strategy] in the most credible manner it goes back to the Paris Agreement to keep the rise of the global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. 

”We support the scientific community in this and believe we need to take accountability for the emissions. Our targets are aggressive and I hope they read that way, as it is a significant undertaking,” she added. 

The project is part of Zalando’s “Do More” sustainability strategy launched in October

With the new targets, the etailer now plans to reduce its operational carbon emissions by making the continued switch to renewable energy across its sites, including operating its fulfilment centres in a carbon neutral way. 

Reductions of emissions in private-label production will be achieved largely through material choice, Heiny explained: ”A large portion of emissions associated with product are material choices and that is a lever that we will have to pull. Whether that is using more organic cotton or recycled materials or polyester for example.” 

Zalando has already had some partners set their own SBTs, and others having committed to the Fashion Charter which includes the requirement to set SBTs. 

“While not all 90% of our partners have committed to SBTs yet, we do have a number of partners that are already there or moving towards that,” Heiny said. ”From the conversations we had with them, I can tell you that this is the direction that most are moving towards.” 

Zalando’s sells nearly 2,000 brands and therefore believes the new requirements have the potential to affect a large share of the fashion industry. 

The etailer recently made a sustainability assessment mandatory for all of its private-label and partner brands

Heiny added: “We believe there is a clear link between sustainability and the continued commercial success of our business and selling fashion online. We have a commitment to this and there is an opportunity to address the holy grail of decoupling our business growth from our social and environmental impact.”  

”The global coronavirus situation has shown us how flexible and fast the economy can be when change is needed, and this should be used as a blueprint when it comes to sustainability. Now is the time for a clear sustainable strategy and ambitious goals to come to life.”

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