Irresponsibility Report 2022Share on Facebook
We’ve made an inventory on our environmental sins committed in 2022, and here’s what we confess.
In 2022, the emissions related to our operations in Helsinki became smaller with energy purchases. We switched our electricity provider to fully Finnish wind power in the fall. And when the contract came into effect in early spring, we had a cheap contract for the following couple of years in the midst of an energy crisis! We used to buy nuclear power-based electricity and wouldn’t have had an issue continuing with it, unless the energy company hadn’t invested in coal.
Then we also purchased the corresponding amount of our district heating consumption in waste heat. We can admit that we earlier complained that it’s annoying when someone else gets the nice heat we paid for but we changed our mind. It happens that the district heating system has now been included in the Guarantees of Origin system in the EU, and it’s safe to assume that the more people and companies purchase their share of clean energy, the more incentive there is to produce it. Buying waste heat was also cheaper than purchasing the carbon credits used to offset the emissions caused by our heating, which was also nice.
With these moves, we avoided some 80 tons of CO2e emissions compared to the previous year. One can argue whether it is stupid to use market-based mechanisms to avoid emissions, but that’s how the international emission calculation rules at the moment work.
In addition, we made some changes to how the emissions from waste are calculated. Before, we used to count the amounts of waste and find emission factors for them on our own, but now we used the reports by the waste management company. Their emission figures are for some reason smaller than ours, but we must say that the amount of waste has not changed drastically.
Emissions from logistics
There’s been a drop of 300 tons in our emissions regarding logistics, more specifically the shipments to our customers, which is almost one third. It’s hard to find any concrete reason for this in the midst of all our growth. One reason might be that there are differences in how the orders have been distributed around the globe. The number of orders has not changed much from the previous year, but the value of individual orders has increased to some extent.
The different logistics operators’ share of our deliveries had also changed. Therefore, another possibility is that there are some differences in how various companies report the emissions or in the vehicles they use. This goes to show that calculating the emissions and planning reductions can sometimes be quite complicated.
This year, we also included the emissions from logistics compensated by others in our calculations. First of all, that’s how the GHG-protocol tells us to do it, but secondly, as offsetting is an uncertain mechanism, it’s good to keep track of the emissions actually caused by our business. For clarity, these are included in a separate column.
Emissions from manufacture
The biggest win in this area was getting the carbon footprints of our own products displayed in our webstore. The project for estimating the emissions from manufacturing our own products that started in 2021 was completed in early summer. Read more about the project in this article.
The carbon footprint has now been estimated for a bit over 190 products, majority of which are textiles. Since we want to use the year 2021 as a baseline for our emissions, we calculated the emissions for manufacturing in total in retrospect. In 2021, the manufacturing process caused some 2,488 tons of emissions and the same figure in 2022 was a whopping 3,177 tons. It’s pretty clear what our biggest emission area is, and this does not even include other manufacturer's products in our selection.
This number can vary quite a lot from year to year, depending on what we order, so minimizing the emissions from manufacturing may not seem that linear. Some items have large minimum orders, which results in long storage times. For example, if we order our worst offender, Särmä Wool Coat, there’s going to be a pile of emissions for that year, but then a lot of the emissions wait for their final home in our warehouse for some years. And then the coat will be in use for a long time. In fast fashion, similar products are made for a specific season, and everything that isn’t sold in the end of season sale, will end up dumped in the desert or burned at the stake.
We will continue trying to find ways of reducing the carbon footprint for each individual product. At the end of last year, we got some data on how recycled materials affect the footprint of a product and updated some of the footprints based on the new numbers. Depending on the product, the potential for emission reductions can be anything between 4 to 40 percent. However, mostly closer to the four percent. As nice as it would feel to think that recycled materials will fix it all, it would be self-deception. That’s why we all should only buy stuff we actually need, take care of it properly, and use it till it falls apart. If you no longer need something, pass it on to the next person who does.
Obviously, there’s still a lot of work ahead of us. The search for less environmentally-hostile materials will continue. In addition, moving the manufacturing from China to Europe will also proceed this year. We’re also launching a project to revamp our supply chains to Northern America, more of which later. If you're interested in what else we do to stay on the side of the good guys, check out our irresponsibility work.
- Operation Unethicality Program 2019 - 2021: Recon
- Operation Unethicality Program 2019 - 2021: On Our Carbon Footprint
- We and the environment are so not friends
- Operation Unethicality Program: Carbon Footprint 2020
- Product carbon footprint calculation method
- Operation Unethicality Program: Carbon Footprint 2021
- Varusteleka's annual report 2022