At Better World our sustainability research team together with specialists from Aalborg University, Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transitions audited our products and processes. The goal is to create transparency and communicate the CO2 water, chemical, and waste footprints of Better World products, as well as comparable products. In our research we used primary data whenever available; otherwise we referenced secondary data and existing life-cycle assessments for select fabrics or processes. The complete Life Cycle Assessment will be available on this page as soon as we have it ready.
Compared to a conventional leather jacket a Better World leather jacket saves the environment for:
What makes Better World different?
At Better World we are limiting the environmental footprint of our garments. We focus on:
• End-of-life recycling service and buy back agreement on all products
• 2nd generation vintage inputs to our production whenever possible
• Domestic/close proximity suppliers whenever possible. We only produce within in the EU
• Manufacturing at our factory in Poland
• Lower-impact, 100% recycled-content & recyclable packaging
• Carbon neutral shipping program
• Low-impact garment care labels and recommendations
How do we define comparable conventional clothing?
We select comparable conventional clothing characteristics based on what fabrics and processes are most common for comparable products sold in Denmark. As we currently only produce and sell leather jackets we only compare with conventional leather jackets produced of virgin material.
Assumptions for comparable conventional clothing:
• Same weight as Better World garment
• For knits & linen, majority content conventional cotton
• Manufactured in China in a factory without carbon offsets
• Raw material air transport from China to Denmark
• Produced of virgin materials e.g. virgin leather, polyester and metals.
Explanation of carbon dioxide footprint?
The leather industry carries significant emissions from animal husbandry, tanning processes of raw hides, manufacturing of leather products and distribution. Based on the report by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the leather industry is accountable for about 130 million tons CO2eq each year. These emissions are equal to emissions from 30 million passenger vehicles every year. One of the contributing factors is that the tanning processes are highly energy intensive. For instance, up to 23.15kWh is required to produce 1 kg of finished leather of all types. Based on recent Life Cycle Assessments up to 73kgCO2eq. are emitted in the production of 1sq. meter leather of all thicknesses (i.e. all the way from raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution and retail boundaries).
The above is one of the driving forces at Better World – we strive to do it better. Therefore, based on the energy consumption of our prototypes of jackets, we estimated that we use 0.6-1kWh per jacket. However, our full commercial production processes started in August 2016 and we are now collecting all the necessary data that will enable us to measure Better World jackets CO2 footprint using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. We are closely collaborating with our production factory to make this as realistic as possible. We expect to communicate our results, most likely during the spring of 2017. We are excited to share this journey, experiences and most importantly, the results.
Further reducing our CO2 footprint, we are working closely with a carbon neutral certified logistic company. Better World is also currently working on an App that will enable user-ship transfer- meaning that our customers will be able to allocate other users of our jackets who wish to switch to a new jacket in their local areas. Additionally, as another way of optimizing resource efficiency, Better World encourages virtual communication whenever possible, thereby avoiding transportation costs such as emissions and finances.
Explanation of chemicals footprint?
Short and precise, to produce 1kg of finished leather up to 2.3 kg of different mixtures of chemicals are used during the tanning processes (excluding pesticides and fungicides used in animal husbandry). Organo-halogens and heavy metals are among other toxic chemical of great concern that are used in tanneries and also found in wastewater discharges. Traces of carcinogens and allergens are found in leather.
Therefore, at Better World, we find it ideal to bypass and NOT to USE any sort of chemicals in the production of our jackets. Inspired by cradle to cradle design principles, we are currently collaborating with Aalborg University to analyze any traces of residual heavy metals and organohalogens and if so, quantify with C2C requirements as our benchmark.
Explanation of water footprint?
The tanning process has been studied to require significant amount of water. Overall, 166.7 liters of water are used to produce 1kg of finished leather i.e. disregarding water requirements for animal husbandry, manufacturing processes of leather goods and during use.
The production of Better World involves the collection of used leather, cut it, clean it up and sew a jacket. Aware of intensity of water consumption in the manufacturing of virgin leather, we chose to work with a production factory that is conscious about sustainability values and best available techniques. Our production factory uses a saw-dust leather cleaning technique – bypassing further water consumption during the cleaning process. Saw-dust substitutes the use of water.
Explanation of waste footprint?
Overall, the tanning process of 1000kg raw hides produces about 240kg finished leather and the rest is waste. The overall output of 1000kg of raw hides is about 240kg finished leather, 40m3 wastewater and 30kg of volatile organic compounds, in other words, air emissions.
We use about 2 old jackets to produce 1 new jacket. We are currently collecting data to measure how much waste leather cuttings produces in the production of a new leather jacket. We have partnered up with companies that use our leather cuttings to produce leather bags, wallets, etc. However, it is our vision to use these cuttings ourselves in the production of leather product accessories such as belts, bracelets, wallets, bags etc.
Additionally, we use recycled and reusable corrugated cardboard for packaging. When a user/customer decides to switch to a new jacket, Better World sends that new jacket in a corrugated cardboard that is then used by the customer when returning the old jacket.