While benefitting from the return of image from the launch of the House of Gucci movie leveraging on its value as heritage leather goods brand, the luxury name is pushing ahead its evolution through a series of moves that mix its ability to reinvent its past and promote young designers as recently seen through its Vault portal, but also increasing its sustainability approach, an aspect no one can avoid considering and focus increasingly more on.
In June 2021 the company published its first Gucci Equilibrium Impact Report, its most recent results and what its further goals are. Incorporating 2020 data, Gucci’s new Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) results revealed that the House reached a 44% reduction of total environmental impacts and a 47% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions taking 2015 as a baseline, while surpassing its 2025 reduction target four years ahead of time. It also achieved a 17% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and a 9% reduction of its total footprint versus 2019.
“Everyone talks about sustainability these days. We read about it every day in the papers and on the Web and hear about it on TV. However, not many players are fully transparent nor turn these good intentions into facts,” said Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s president and CEO, sharing the house’s insights on its carbon neutral commitment and environmentally friendly progress during a recent conference hosted by entrepreneur Federico Marchetti’s “Creating A Startup in the Digital and Sustainable Economy” course at Milan’s Bocconi University. While discussing with students various topics including shifting consumer perception on sustainability, Bizzarri answered a student’s question: “Why aren’t consumers focused yet on buying sustainable products?”
His answer was: “Challenging the norms and consumer behaviors take time. As a company we should aim at having sustainability as a prerequisite for any product we offer while attracting the consumers with our creativity: that is why we are working hard towards implementing our rigorous strategy.”
Why Gucci goes “Up”
Already in 2018, the brand of Tuscan origins had launched “Gucci-Up,” a project dedicated to the recovery and creative reuse of leftover materials with the aim to help to safeguard natural resources, and today it continues its progress with more and broader initiatives. As its name says, “Up” stands for “upcycling” and technically means giving a new, higher value, and a second life to items that are traditionally considered as waste.
With Gucci-Up, obsolete or out-of-collection materials, scraps and waste generated by its production processes can be reused for a new process of regeneration and help the reduction of environmental impacts but also in the creation of socially helpful projects as they may be put back on the market or donated to social enterprises for new socially responsible projects.
Recycling in figures
Among some of its most recent initiatives, the company started regenerating and recycling textile waste from its supply chain through a partnership with Green Line, a company specialized in the collection and recycling of textile scraps. From the partnership’s launch in 2015 to 2020, they collected 395 tonnes of textile waste from Gucci’s suppliers and gave them new life in fashion’s supply chains. Also, part of these projects is the regeneration of leftover materials from the Econyl scraps recovered from the production of Gucci Off The Grid collection then recycled to create new Econyl materials as part of the “Gucci-Econyl Pre Consumer Fabric Take Back Program.”
Gucci also started collecting leather waste generated within its supply chain and reintroduced it into the market or donated it to socially responsible projects. Between 2018 and 2020, it recovered and regenerated around 27 tonnes of leather scraps in collaboration with non-profit organizations and social cooperatives in Italy. Also in 2020, it collected 25 tonnes of leather off- cuts and reused them as fertilizer.
All the brand’s discontinued non-branded fabrics and leathers are reused internally or through external channels, by, for instance, donating these materials to non-profit organizations. Since 2020, for instance, it has developed an environmentally friendly process to remove logos or other customizations from leather. In addition, as far as metals are concerned, all accessories are destined for recycling.
Supporting the disadvantaged
Gucci-Up also contributes to the creation of entrepreneurial projects through partnerships with non-profit organizations that support disadvantaged people including women, migrants and people with disabilities.
Greener stores for a better future
As part of this strategy, stores play a key role as the company counts 483 directly operated stores, and it aims to reduce their Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) footprint.
In 2020, 93% of Gucci’s overall energy consumption in its stores, offices and industrial sites came from green and renewable sources. The company had already achieved 100% renewable energy in 41 countries of the 49 countries it is located in, such as the US, Canada, Latin America, all Europeans countries, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, and is now working to achieve 100% renewable energy across its direct operations including all its stores by 2022. By replacing non-renewable energy from fossil fuels with energy from renewable sourcing, Gucci has reduced its CO2 footprint year-on-year, resulting in savings of 59,200 tons of CO2 in 2019 and 65,000 tons of CO2 in 2020.
In 2009, Gucci had already achieved the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a globally recognized certification for buildings and a symbol of sustainability excellence.
In 2020, 30 Gucci stores were LEED certified, mainly in China and the USA, and the brand is now committed to increase the number of certified stores worldwide year-by-year with a special focus on its flagship locations.
LED lights above all
The company aims to achieve its goal through a series of key steps that include, for instance, lighting efficiency as it has converted many of its stores into LED lighting–including motion detectors to avoid unnecessary energy use–but also in stockrooms and “back of house.” In 2020, about 67% of its total stores around the world used LED lighting and all new stores are designed using this eco-friendly illumination.
The brand has also progressively been installing Building Management System (BMS) in its main stores. While BMS allows control of heating, ventilation, cooling, hot water and lighting in buildings, it is also a diagnostic and energy information tool that helps limit energy waste. Currently, 23 Gucci stores are equipped with the BMS system.
Gucci is also focused on the prevention of waste production in its stores. For example, it does not use disposable single-use plastic bottles for its staff and customers, opting for glassware instead. To avoid wasting water, and to further minimize plastic use, about 25% of its total stores use water dispensers for its employees, which are connected to the public drinkable network.
Also, the selection of raw materials for outfitting stores has an environmentally focused approach. For instance, when using wood-based materials for store furniture Gucci prefers to employ materials from sustainably managed forest sources as this ensures traceability and a reduced environmental impact, too.
Also, for its windows’ design, it uses eco-friendly materials, as well as recycling, upcycling and reusing them when they are dismantled, as it happened for the launch of the Gucci Off The Grid collection.
Certifying one’s commitment
As of 2020, also the company’s two Italian headquarters located in Florence and Milan, its headquarters in Shanghai, and 30 stores, mainly in China and the USA, are LEED-certified. In total, approximately 7% of the brand’s total sites worldwide (stores and corporate) are certified stores and reached 10% in 2021. Moreover, all of its Italian offices are certified under the international ISO 14001 and the ISO 45001 standards, and they follow its rigorous environmental health and safety management systems. All of the Italian stores also achieved the health and safety ISO 45001 certification in 2019.