Sustainability

Walpole Sustainability Working Groups | Fostering collaboration and accelerating the speed of change

As week one of COP26 draws to a close we mark a year since the founding of our Sustainability Working Groups, with an update on some of the findings and on-going projects that have arisen from these meetings-of-mind between the sustainability leads from over 100 Walpole member brands.
5th Nov 2021
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Sustainability Walpole Sustainability Working Groups | Fostering collaboration and accelerating the speed of change

It’s been a year since we launched our Sustainability Working Groups, as part of the industry wide British Luxury Sustainability Manifesto produced with the support of McKinsey & Co. Through the groups Walpole brings together the sustainability leads across sectors including fashion, beauty, jewellery, watches, travel, hospitality, retail and interiors, to work together to accelerate the pace of change through collaboration: sharing experiences, ideas, contacts, challenges, opportunities and projects for collective action.

The seven working groups have met every eight weeks over the last year and are attended by over 100 brands, including Burberry, dunhill, Harrods, Edrington Beam-Suntory, The Savoy, Mulberry, Boodles, Selfridges, David Collins Studio and Johnstons of Elgin amongst many more, working together to achieve their sustainability goals individually and collectively as the British luxury community.

In this last round of meetings, which took place in October, climate action was of course top of the agenda ahead of COP26, with the groups sharing their individual goals, how they are implementing Science Based Targets and working with Race to Zero, their expectations and plans to participate at the Summit, sharing expertise on measurement and actions plans as well as hearing from guest speakers from Green Planet. There are impressive results across the membership community in the reduction of scope 1 & 2 emissions, with a number of the larger brands reporting Net Zero in their own operations whilst identifying the step challenges in relation to supply chains and scope 3. Many of these journeys are featured in the Great British Brands ZERO publication, produced with the support of Walpole to highlight progress and openly share their experiences when working towards their longer-term Net Zero goals.  

Felix Winkler, CCO of Reflaunt, the resale service joined as a guest speaker leading discussions on circularity and customer insights communications. Circularity and sustainable packaging continues to be a topic in the Groups with brands sharing their approaches to internal audits, transitions to alternative solutions and materials as well as plans to launch new packaging. 

In the Food & Drinks Group, an in-depth assessment of materials was covered as well as a new carbon measurement tool created by the University of Belfast, and the Scottish Whisky Association’s presented their limited edition “most sustainably packaged” whisky which has been produced for COP26. 

Leather sourcing was a topic which came in a number of the different groups and we are fortunate that Mulberry are able to share their knowledge and leadership with the wider the community and fellow members. On the topic of materials the groups also discussed insights on leather alternatives. In the Watches & Jewellery Group we discussed sourcing and supply chains with a focus on recycled gold and platinum. 

Customer insights is a recurring theme in the groups, sharing knowledge of the key sustainability credentials that matter to customers and how to best communicate a brand’s work, targets and progress in a way that is relevant and drives change.  

The Retail & Interiors Groups gave updates on two exciting collaborative projects; an inbound packaging initiative to develop a set of sustainable standards across retailers with the goal of reducing waste, increasing recyclability and promoting the adoption of sustainable inbound packaging options across the luxury sector.

These two groups are also working on a set sustainable fit-out standards to promote more sustainable store and concession designs including an approved materials list and an approach to strip-out and refurbishment.

Work is now starting on Diversity & Inclusion Working Group to help members with the fourth pillar of our Sustainability Manifesto. 

If you would like to join the Working Groups or to know more please contact [email protected]

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