Our responsibility efforts need work. This is a big deal for us. So we’re shaking things up… When it comes to making excellent frames that people love wearing — we’re all in, but we know that everything we do from production to packaging and transport, along with our company’s CO2 footprint, affects the environment. We’re not here to mess up the planet, so last year we made it our business to be the first eyewear brand to publish a CO2 report and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on our frames. This helps us know exactly how our frames impact the environment and how to improve at every step of our production. A CO2 report measures the overall carbon dioxide and equivalent greenhouse gases emitted by us per year from locations we operate directly, like our HQ and retail stores, but also from business-related travel. A Life Cycle Assessment report measures the effect of our product’s entire life cycle, from raw material to the moment it’s thrown away. Interested in the nitty gritty? Read on to learn how we scored ourselves.
We’re taking a magnifying lens to our stores, office and travel. The bigger we get, the more CO2-eq we’ll generate, which is why we track our average emissions per frame, dividing our overall emissions by how many frames we’ve produced per year. It’s called like-for-like reporting and it’ll help us tackle important issues, from the supply chain, to retail and beyond.
To get the clearest picture possible we split the emissions up into 3 different categories.
The first category stems from the Greenhouse gases that are owned or controlled by the company. This includes emissions from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and emissions from chemical production in owned or controlled process equipment.
For Ace & Tate the specifics are:
- Combustion of natural gas in assets operated by Ace & Tate
- Combustion of leased vehicles over which Ace & Tate has operational control
- Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions during the use of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment over which Ace & Tate has operational control
This second category of emissions includes our indirect emissions and accounts for Greenhouse gases from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the company. Purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling is defined as energy that is purchased or otherwise brought into the organisational boundary of the company.
The third category allows for all other indirect emissions. Technically speaking, these are a consequence of the activities of the company, but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the company. These are other indirect emissions relating to upstream and downstream activities, that for us are: 1. Business air travel 2. Business rental car travel.
The results CO2 equivalent to…342 return flights from Amsterdam to New York or 9,689 pairs of jeans.
The CO2 report states that during 2018 we emitted 260.34 tons of CO2-eq, and that the majority of our impact stems from the electricity use of our stores and headquarters, as well as our business flights.
Want all the facts and figures? Take a look at the full CO2 report here.
Neil and Pierce, you’re up! To get a decent reading on our Life Cycle responsibility we chose our best selling frames, Neil and Pierce — one metal and one acetate frame. The LCA measures the impact of a frame’s entire life cycle, from raw material to the moment it’s thrown away. Currently, it doesn’t involve the user phase, or non-direct emissions, such as business travel. But we’ll include these in our next LCA report, so stay tuned. The LCA analyses 5 metrics: CO2-eq (Carbon dioxide and equivalent greenhouse gases), toxicity, phosphate, use of non-renewable resources, and use of water.
So Neil and Pierce have quite a journey from production in China to the doorsteps of our customers all over Europe. Here’s how it goes… the materials required to produce our glasses are supplied locally. When finalising production, the frames are mounted with a lens to help keep the frames’ shape while shipping. This is either a demo-lens (as we don’t yet know the customer’s prescription), a plano lens (lens without vision correction) or a sun lens (sunglasses). The frames are then packed for transport.
The sun and plano lenses will not be discarded until later in the process. The demo-lens is replaced by an optical lens and discarded in full. After that the frames are en route to the Netherlands.
Frames that need optical lenses are shipped to either Thailand, the Netherlands, or a retail location for edging and mounting. Once the edging process is complete, the glasses are all sent to the Netherlands. Frames are then packed for final consumer usage in a case with a cloth. After packaging the glasses are transported to retail locations, or sent directly to consumers.
Our acetate frame is harder on the environment than our metal one. Through the LCA, we learnt that the production of acetate frames is more impactful than that of metal, because acetate requires more processing to come to its final shape. The production of Neil (metal) frame has a total impact of 3,96 kg CO2-equivalent and Pierce (acetate) frame comes to 6,73 kg CO2-eq.
These numbers set the benchmark for change. We now know which parts of the life cycle have the biggest impact and what we should focus on to decrease it. One of the biggest challenges with conducting a Life Cycle Assessment is accuracy. Making improvements to one area can have a knock-on effect to another aspect in the chain. What we’re learning is that it’s all about compromises and prioritising. Currently we’re diving deeper into our value chain and are committed to improving the accuracy of our results, as well as thinking holistically about our footprint, including the user phase.
You can find our full LCA report here.
What’s next? Fast tweaks and an ambitious-as-hell long term strategy.
Now that we’ve got a read on our Life Cycle impact and CO2 output we can easily benchmark and measure the impact we make against our previous year’s results. Helping us to set smart goals for improvement.
First up, we are making some immediate changes such as switching to green energy suppliers for our HQ and stores, as well as being mindful of our air travel and flying only when necessary.
Ultimately, our end game is to provide circular eyewear, which means closing our own loop and having no waste, and no wasted resources either. It’s really important to us that our frames deliver happiness and goodness to the world by being a responsible product. We want you to feel great about your purchasing decisions, as well as your gorgeous face in the mirror.
So, here’s what we’re shooting for:
- Make 100% of our collection from responsible materials such as bio- and pre-production recycled acetate, by the end of 2020
- Remove all unnecessary packaging (like paper cards and bags) by 2020
- Produce all packaging from 80% sustainable materials by November 2020
- Invest in reusable packaging, or set up a recycling initiative for packaging by 2021
- Have our Code of Conduct signed by factories we work with indirectly, e.g. our acetate, lens and metal suppliers by July 2020
- Become a certified B Corporation (focusing on environmental and social performance) by 2021
- Reduce our average emissions per frame by 10% in 2020, compared with 2019. And reduce our average emissions per frame by 15% in 2021, compared with 2020
- Ultimately, we’re committed to achieving complete carbon neutrality. We’re confident we can get to zero by 2030 by our ambitious roadmap. All CO2 emissions we cannot decrease till then, we’re offsetting till 100%
Get the full low-down here.
Until next time, I’m happy to receive any suggestions, questions or feedback. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow We’re working on it on Medium to stay updated.
I’ll keep coming back here — sharing small victories and big learnings.
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