There has been no other time in history in which the move towards sustainability has been more urgent, and here at Leaf we believe that companies should be supported in their inevitable drive towards more sustainable and environmentally conscious production processes and supply chains.
Leaf is a software solution that illustrates a retailer’s current impact, whether CO2e emissions, water usage, waste management, or toxic chemical production, thereby enabling them to track the positive impacts of their sustainable initiatives.
While we do not advise or consult companies on the sustainable initiatives they should be undertaking, our data-driven algorithms and best practice sharing has helped our customers become signatories to sustainable initiatives, enabling them to share their commitment and progress in a more public and open way.
Leaf offers our clients the opportunity to work with a trusted supplier where understanding each other's business drivers and ethos are key factors in promoting corporate engagement and awareness and producing a successful solution. Our detailed, bespoke reports can be tailored to suit your company. Below are some important areas that we focus on:
During manufacturing processes, logistics, and transportation, greenhouse gases (GHGs) are produced. These gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide, among others. CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, is a standard unit for measuring GHGs and is used for estimating how much global warming a given GHG may cause, using the functionally equivalent amount of CO2 as the reference. This is because different GHGs have different global warming potentials when measured over a specific timespan.
According to the IPCC, methane has 28x the global warming potential of CO2, which means that 21Mt of methane produce the same planet heating effect as only 1Mt of CO2 over a 100 year timespan! Furthermore, nitrous oxide has 265x the global warming potential of CO2! CO2e emissions play a critical role in understanding one’s environmental impact.
Less than 1% of the world’s water is freshwater and available for consumption, therefore it is vital to monitor our water usage to minimise waste and inefficiencies. As the world’s population increases, our demand for water also increases, and this means that we need to supplement our lack of freshwater by extracting it from groundwater supplies and aquifers.
This practice is unsustainable because their regeneration rate is lower than their extraction rate and thus water security and availability is decreased in the long term. Moreover, water takes a lot of energy (usually from fossil fuels), time, and money to extract, transport, and filter so that it is potable, so by wasting or overusing water, companies may be inadvertently releasing dangerous levels of GHGs into the atmosphere.
Finally, there is an ecological cost to overusing freshwater resources; by diverting freshwater from aquatic environments to supplement our high demand, many plant and animal species are threatened and endangered. In conclusion, there are numerous reasons to understand and reduce one’s water usage!
It is important to include waste management in the consideration of one’s environmental impact. Waste can include overproduction, fabric off-cuts, and rejected garments, and waste can be created at all stages of the supply chain. It is important not to waste the raw materials and energy used in creating products as this contributes to needless GHG emissions.
Waste management is also essential to reducing the hazardous effects of waste disposal on the environment; landfill sites generate methane gas, and many materials take years to break down completely. Plastics produce toxic substances when they are incinerated and gases produced from incineration cause air pollution and contribute to acid rain.
Hazardous chemicals can be released into the environment during manufacturing and related processes deep within the supply chain, and they can also end up in the finished products. In addition, the dyeing processes involved in garment manufacturing create toxic by-products.
For example, Azo dyes, a class of synthetic nitrogen-based dyes that produce reds, oranges, and yellows, can have toxic and carcinogenic effects. Companies should understand their environmental impact in this regard in order to protect their consumers, workers, sourcing communities, and the environment.
Leaf refers to Fast Retailing’s Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) as a useful guide to toxic chemical production in fast fashion manufacturing. The MRSL presents thresholds and restrictions for substances that have been “identified as hazardous and potentially used in production and discharged into the environment during processing”.