A growing global population. Rapidly expanding middle class in the developing world. Fast fashion trends. These and other factors are increasing the demand for clothing across the world. At the same time, clothing production is resource intensive. Throughout the value chain, from growing and transporting raw materials like cotton - which we use more than any other raw material - to the inputs needed to finish a garment, clothing production requires a lot of water and energy and contributes to climate change. When the garments reach the end of their practical use, only one-third of the used clothes are recycled1. Of course, at the heart of our sustainable products ambition is HER, our customer. We want to help HER look and feel good because she expects that HER clothes have been sourced and made in a way that respects our environment, employees, and future generations.
The apparel industry is on an unsustainable path
|Global Clothing Demand (2000-2014)2||Global Projected Environmental Impacts (2025)3|
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Our Ambition: Fashion with a positive impact
Together, this increased demand for clothing and projected environmental impacts is not sustainable. The way forward is clear: we must provide more sustainable products by changing the life cycle of clothes - from how they’re produced to how they’re handled at end of life.
But this change won’t happen overnight. And although we’re just one player, we can make a contribution to help the fashion industry improve. That’s why our long-term ambition is to help move the industry from a linear approach - sometimes characterised as ‘take, make, waste’ - to a circular model where materials become part of a closed loop and are recycled into new products. At the same time, we aim to reduce the impacts that come from producing raw materials.
Our Approach: Partner with others to change ourselves and the industry
To achieve this ambition, we’re using a two-part approach:
1. Raw materials - Focus on reducing the impacts of raw material production on the environment and people. We want to help create positive change in the way raw materials are produced. This includes working with C&A Foundation and with other companies and non-profit organisations to increase the availability of organic and more sustainable cotton.
2. Circular economy - Look at the whole value chain to determine how we can transition to a circular economy and drive innovation. Partner with the C&A Foundation to incubate and accelerate circular technology in the apparel industry.
Our 2020 goals: Use more sustainable raw materials
In the short term - by the end of 2016 - we will:
Our 2015 progress
We have more to do, but we’re making good strides towards these goals through responsible purchasing, scientific research, and partnerships with industry and non-profit organisations. During 2015, we:
Our vision of fashion with a positive impact begins with raw materials—the cotton, polyester, viscose, and other items that go into our clothing. How they are grown or manufactured goes a long way towards creating a sustainable future in our supply chain and beyond.
Our vision for the global apparel industry is based on a circular economy—on where we can close the loop on fibers and our clothing in a fair and restorative fashion. In 2016, in partnership with the C&A Foundation we will launch a Centre solely focused on incubating and accelerating circular technologies for the apparel industry.
Every piece of clothing or accessory we sell must not only meet regulatory requirements, but our own strict quality standards down to the very last detail. And it must be made in environments that safeguard worker health and wellbeing. Ensuring this level of safety and quality is a multi-part process that includes detailed checks during production and in our stores—as well as initiatives to increase safety and quality throughout the garment industry.