Understanding the impacts of other raw materials

Our 2020 goal is for 67% of all our raw materials to be produced in more sustainable ways. We started this journey with cotton, the raw material we use most. In 2016, we will build upon our experience using more sustainable cotton and other materials in our current collections by developing robust roadmaps to define and progress towards leadership in this area.  We will be collaborating with other brands, retailers, and NGOs to help influence how more sustainable materials are made and scaled. We’re researching the use of recycled materials to maintain the quality and style that our customers expect, while relying less on natural resources and supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

In 2015, we mapped the impacts of viscose and polyester—our two most important materials aside from cotton—to help us understand where to focus our efforts. We found that while water use is relatively low for viscose and polyester compared to cotton, the greenhouse gas impacts are relatively higher due to the energy needed to extract and convert the raw materials into final products.

Comparison of water and CO2 emissions in the production of fibres that C&A sources

Protecting endangered forests

Rayon/viscose, modal, and lyocell are made from the dissolved pulp of trees. Together, they are the third most used material at C&A. In 2015, C&A joined the Canopy Style initiative and published a policy on protecting forest through fabric choices. By 2017, C&A China aims to eliminate fabrics made of pulp from ancient and endangered forests, illegal logging, or logging that harms indigenous people’s rights, and will preference Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified fibres. To date, with support from the organisation Canopy, nine global cellulosic fibre producers - representing over 65% of viscose production - have adopted similar policies.

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Protecting animal welfare in the supply chain

Our commitment to sustainable sourcing includes protecting animal welfare. We strive to ensure the wellbeing of all animals involved in creating our products. Specific commitments guide how we source certain animal-derived raw materials and in 2016 we strengthened our animal welfare due diligence in collaboration with Four Paws and published our Animal Welfare Policy.

 

 

Using more recycled polyester

Because polyester is made from oil, recycling this fabric consumes fewer finite resources, prevents plastic pollution, and reduces climate change-related impacts. Recycled polyester also requires fewer chemicals and less energy and water.

In 2015 in Europe, we added four styles of kids’ and toddlers’ denim to our Spring Kids Brochure. These jeans featured 28% recycled polyester (made from recycled polyethylene, or PET) and 72% organic cotton. Adding recycled polyester also makes denim more durable - a benefit in children’s clothing. C&A China also offered two recycled polyester men's jackets collections in 2015.

 

newborn collection

All of our down will be RDS certified

FROM FALL 2016
newborn collection

100%

of our down and feathers
will be certified to the Responsible Down Standard.

Down and feathers certified responsible

C&A products contain only down and feathers from birds raised primarily for meat production. We have banned the live plucking of feathers and don’t accept down or feathers from any endangered species. In 2015, we moved away from supplier declaration and towards supply chain certification for down and feathers to verify animal welfare standards are being applied. We use the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), an independent voluntary global standard owned by Textile Exchange and certified by Control Union. RDS encourages best practices in animal welfare and excludes suppliers that violate an animal’s wellbeing. It also allows for traceability of the down and feathers so products can be labelled and our customers can make informed choices. In 2015, over 40% of the down purchased by C&A Europe was RDS certified. In 2016, all down purchased by C&A will be certified to RDS. Beginning with our 2016 autumn/winter collections in Europe and our 2017 collections in China, all down items will be certified. In Brazil and Mexico, we don't sell any down products.

Wool, hair, angora, and fur

C&A does not accept wool from sources using mulesing practices. In addition, we stopped buying any angora wool beginning in 2013, following reports of cruelty to rabbits.

In 2015, we continued contributing to the International Working Group on Wool convened by the Textile Exchange. With other brands, farmer organisations, suppliers, and animal welfare associations, the group is developing a global Responsible Wool Standard. When published - expected to be 2016 - the standard will create an industry benchmark for animal care and land management, ensure wool comes from responsible farms, and create ways to verify the wool complies with the standard at every stage. Farmers will be required to respect the five freedoms of animal welfare, and end harmful practices.

We do not accept or sell products made from real fur or accept hair from any endangered species. In 2013, we signed a letter of engagement to demonstrate our commitment to being a fur-free retailer.

Responsible leather and skins

We only source leather from animals reared for meat production, such as cows, buffalo, and pigs. We don’t use skins from any endangered or exotic animals, as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna and the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We have also sourced cruelty free leather made of polyurethane for jackets, shoes, handbags and belts.

In Europe and in China, we use chrome-free tanning for all leather products, avoiding potential negative effects on human health. We do not sell leather products in Mexico, and in Brazil we will develop a study to understand the impacts and feasibility of using chrome-free tanning for leather products.

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