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Chanel’s New Sustainability Plan Will Move the Brand to 100% Renewable Electricity by 2025

The iconic French couture house laid out an extensive plan toward a greener future.

Chanel runway show Courtesy of Shutterstock

The fashion world’s sustainability efforts are ramping up, and Chanel is the latest brand to make a long-term commitment to reduce waste and utilize renewable resources.

Chanel Mission 1.5, the label’s new detailed plan aimed at directly addressing climate change, gets its name from the Paris Climate Agreement, which set out to limit the world’s mean temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The ambitious program involves every facet of the Chanel business, including retail, supply chain and events like runway shows. It centers around four main goals: 1) to reduce carbon emissions across all operations; 2) to shift to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025; 3) to offset residual carbon emissions; 4) to finance climate change adaptation by working with communities most impacted by climate change.

“We have a responsibility to be at the forefront, especially with climate strategy, and we belong to the small group of companies that are leading the action,” Chanel chief sustainability officer Andrea d’Avack told WWD. “This is not a reaction to what the clients are telling us; it’s coherent with the way we’ve been working for many years.” D’Avack joined Chanel in 1987, only a few short years after the brand was brought back from anonymity by Karl Lagerfeld. He believes these steps mirror the company’s products by focusing on long-term value.

Chanel storefront

A Chanel storefront with its iconic awning.  Courtesy of Shutterstock

The brand has taken heat in the past for its grand runway shows, which have gone to the extremes of shipping icebergs, creating a fully stocked supermarket and even a forest all in the name of spectacle. D’Avack told WWD, “We are aware that there could be environmental consequences; that’s why we are really working hand-in-hand with our partners to conceive these shows in an eco-friendly way, trying to reduce the impact on the environment, making sure that we use materials that can be reused and recycled.”

Other efforts include working with sugar beet farmers in France (all alcohol in Chanel’s fragrance line is produced from these sugar beets) and a new partnership with Finnish startup Sulapac to produce biodegradable packaging made from cast-off wood chips. This plant-based packaging would most likely be implemented in the company’s extensive cosmetics portfolio and could help reduce overall weight and related carbon emissions during shipping.

Chanel store interior

A Chanel boutique interior with the wide product range set to be affected by sustainability efforts.  Courtesy of Shutterstock

“They are ambitious targets and mean that we have to transform our whole value chain, the way in which we source, produce, distribute to the retailers and merchandisers—our product,” D’Avack told the industry newspaper. “It demands resources, dedication and the involvement of pretty much everybody in the company.”

It’s a challenge that will be costly and take time, but if any company in the fashion world has the resources to make it happen, it may be Chanel. Privately owned by the Wertheimer family, the company has only ever publicly released two revenue reports, the last of which came in 2019 detailing the 2018 fiscal year. In 2018, Chanel generated $11.12 billion in revenue, a figure which increased 10.5 percent from the year prior. For perspective, LVMH brought in $60.67 billion in revenue for 2019––a sum culled together from the dozens of luxury brands under its umbrella.

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