Fashion Sustainability in Progress: Hermes By Anuja

This is the 4th article in a bimonthly series where we will look at the most selling brands in the fashion industry in the year 2016-17. Interbrand, a global brand consultancy, reported Best Global Brands of 2017. Ten luxury and apparel companies made their mark in the top 100. Each blog post would probe into these companies for environmental and social performance by highlighting their progress. Stay tuned for this bimonthly series looking into their sustainability efforts.

Ranking on  Best Global Brands of 2017:  Hermes is at 32 out of 100.

Fashion Transparency Index Final Score: 21-30% Brands scoring between 20-30% are likely to be publishing much more detailed information about their policies, procedures, social and environmental goals and supplier assessment and remediation processes.

Third party verification of report: Yes.  PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Reporting Standard: NA.

Insights from its sustainability report:

For 10 years, the Company’s sustainable development actions have been overseen by a Sustainable Development Committee.

Employee engagement

In 2016, the sites in Paris and Bobigny organised one event daily, such as:

  • distribution of fruit and vegetable baskets to meetings with beekeepers
  • clothing drives
  • wellness workshops
  • awareness raising on eco-driving
  • awareness raising on sustainable agriculture and meetings with local farmers
  • workshops on individual recycling and sorting
  • maintenance of beehives on four of sites
  • harvest and distribute honey from the hives located on the tannery grounds to its employees
  • community vegetable gardens maintained by employees
  • carpooling challenge
  • challenge with Le Relais for the collection of textiles, communications on eco-actions, book donations for children
  • urban beekeeping (introduction to bees, beekeeping and the challenges of pollination, as well as a honey tasting)
  • urban agro-ecology (the principles of agro-ecology and learning how to create one’s own vegetable garden)
  • promoting biodiversity (presentation of the various habitats required to preserve biodiversity)
  • organic breakfast featuring local products
  • conservation of a protected local species, the pearl mussel
  • “Just dive in!” programme: These exchanges between the general public and the employees of the production unit provided an opportunity to discuss the site’s water-conservation context and the installation of phytotreatment basins recently renovated by the production unit.
  • At the end of 2016, all employees in the craftsmanship division took part in an interactive training day on awareness of the body and its role, “Un corps pour la vie” (“A body for life”). This fun health awareness module was delivered to artisans at the production units and employees in administrative roles. It is the first step of a commitment to healthy living every day.

Diversity

  • In 2016 the Group developed a diversity management and anti-discrimination training programme, which will be rolled out among local managers throughout 2017.
  • In 2016, HTH continued to support the Handysoie partner company, in collaboration with an ESAT, which employs disabled staff for making textile products.

Chemicals

  • The programme for measuring employee exposure to certain chemical agents, which began in 2015, continued at the Vivoin, Montereau, Cuneo and Annonay sites.

Performance

  • Hermès launched a study in collaboration with an external partner to evaluate the social and environmental footprint of the supply line for alligator skins in the United States, with conclusions expected in 2017.

Resource and waste management

  • Refurbishing the tank furnace, one of the big projects at cristallerie SaintLouis in 2016, was an opportunity to optimise our main melting tool for manufacturing, and it launched operations in November. The technology chosen will enable a reduction in the consumption of raw materials of approximately 20%.
  • A study of potential improvements to the SIEGL effluent treatment plant was undertaken in 2016. The aim is to improve performance in processing waste and to increase the proportion of recycled water put back into processes.
  • In Hong Kong, donations were made to “Food Angel”, an NGO involved in the fight against food waste and hunger in the region. Thus, unsold and leftover food from local retailers and restaurants was redistributed to disadvantaged communities in the form of hot meals. Volunteers from the office and stores also helped collect food leftovers for “Bread Run”, the leading food bank for people in need. The subsidiary continued its support for “Lunch Club” with donations and employees helping out at this restaurant for people in difficulty

Other initiatives:

  • the use of brass is banned and replaced by aluminium, in order to reduce the weight of furniture and simplify recycling;
  • pure wool carpets are laid using a plant-based adhesive, so that they can be recycled when replaced

Biodiversity

  • In India, the Hermès subsidiary chose to give 2% of its income (as required under Indian law) to the “News” NGO in 2016. News is active in the fight to protect nature, the environment and wildlife. The contribution was aimed at supporting aquaculture/fish farming development projects in Sundarban villages in the Bay of Bengal.
  • The type of wood used for the floors in stores is selected from locally available species.
  • In 2016, the nine sustainability projects impacted the lives of over 1 million people, and contributed to replanting more than 120 million trees.

Transparency

  • For several years, the Company has been involved in a certification process (the Responsible Jewellery Council - RJC) to guarantee the best traceability for production and purchasing for our jewellery. This certification must be regularly renewed through audits performed by RJC throughout the chain, from production through to distribution. This renewal of the certification took place in 2016. This makes it possible to offer the best environmental and social guarantees regarding the conditions in which precious materials are sourced.

Energy efficiency

  • All the French sites (production, services, stores) are now supplied with green energy, mainly hydro, produced locally.
  • In 2016, in addition to the new stores, relamping with LED systems continued on the global network of existing stores, bringing the total proportion of Hermès stores equipped with LED systems to 55%.
  • Measures have been taken to reduce energy consumption, such as the removal of halogen lights and the installation of LED systems on the last of the decoration workshop workstations as well as on all brush workshop workstations.
  • Other initiatives (installation of electricity consumption sub-meters and motion detector systems in fitting rooms, washrooms and back offices) were taken on all new store projects in 2016.

Spending

  • A budget of €0.5 million has been invested in various projects to improve the production unit’s performance in terms of hygiene, ergonomics, safety, working conditions and the environment.
  • A total of €0.65 million was devoted to the prevention of environmental risks and pollution in 2016. Most of this investment went towards the optimisation of sites’ water treatment plants.

Hermes in the news:

 

Anuja Sawant

Environment & Social Sustainability Specialist

https://anujasawant.com/