In 2012, we committed to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) and are working to eliminate harmful chemicals from our supply chain by 2020. By helping our production facilities improve their standards, conducting wastewater testing, and collaborating throughout the industry to promote system-level change, we can eliminate harmful chemicals from our supply chain. In 2015, independent Sustainable Chemicals Management (SCM) audits took place at 52 mills. An additional 50 wet-processing facilities will be audited against C&A standards and assessed for their use and management of hazardous chemicals by July 2016.
Chemicals are used throughout our products' life cycle, from the growing of raw materials like cotton to consumer use. In clothing production, dyeing, washing, printing, and treating fabrics for fire, odour, stain, water or wrinkle resistance can all involve the use of chemicals.
C&A—and others in the industry—can help to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals by:
C&A is a founding member of ZDHC—a coalition of 21 global sports, fashion, and outdoor brands with a shared commitment to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in the textile and footwear supply chain. C&A is working in six areas to create impact:
The latest version of the ZDHC Joint Roadmap, offers a clear and strategic effort to streamline the program in order to maximize impact and change. Initially released in 2011, the roadmap sets a clear path towards eliminating hazardous chemicals in the supply chain by 2020. The latest version of the Joint Roadmap can be found here.
We have already eliminated the use of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in all regions, well ahead of the 2020 ZDHC deadline. We will continue to communicate the PFC ban across our supply chain whilst working with chemical suppliers to provide safer alternatives. The current approved PFC-free alternatives are listed here. We will also continue to update this list whilst working on case-studies to be published on SubsPort, the Substitution Support Portal. The ban of PFCs is communicated and controlled by the Restricted Substances List (RSL) and MRSL.
We have recently updated our chemical policies with the publication of the C&A Chemical Policy . For the first time, the RSL—regulating chemicals in the final product, and the MRSL—regulating chemicals in manufacturing processes, have been merged to simplify our message and deliver one standard to our supply chain. While the RSL is focused on product safety, the MRSL represents a list of chemical substances banned from intentional use in the supply chain and establishes concentration limits for substances in chemical formulations. The MRSL goes beyond the 11 priority chemical groups C&A have committed to eliminating by 2020, and we seek to update the MRSL, in accordance with the precautionary approach, on at least an annual basis. Interim MRSL conformance guidance can be found here, with an update expected by the end of 2016. Once available, we will work with our supply chain on providing the necessary training for rolling out the guidance.
In 2015, we covered
of our nominated fabric volume in Europe with our SCM programme.
Meeting this goal in our supply chain is ambitious. But we believe we can make it happen by working together across the apparel industry to understand our strategy and why it is important for environmental stewardship and attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As an important step, we recently launched our first global chemicals management strategy, which spells out how we’re guiding wet-processing suppliers in Bangladesh, China, India, and Pakistan so they can improve their chemical management systems, adopt best practices, and use safer alternatives. In June and July 2016, we’ll also include laundries and printers as we expand the programme to include more manufacturing activities and three more regions – Brazil, Cambodia and Mexico.
The initial two components of the strategy involve conducting wastewater testing and a sustainable chemicals management audit. The wastewater testing is conducted to identify any hazardous chemicals being used in the supply chain, whilst the audit assesses the level of on-site chemical management performance. Both are essential in the monitoring of actual implementation and progress towards our 2020 goal.
As part of our commitment to the Right to Know principle, we have published two reports:
Both of these components address hazardous chemicals at facility level, meaning, even if hazardous chemicals are detected in wastewater that can be traced back to another brands production, we will still support the facility on the phase-out process in our support of the ‘clean factory approach’.
Along the way, we’re being careful to adopt a standard approach to helping suppliers make practical improvements. This includes:
With the publication of this report, we have disclosed 850 of our suppliers’ factories names and addresses across 36 of our production countries. The list represents first-tier cut and sew factories and vertically integrated factories. By April 2017 we will include suppliers like fabric mills, laundries and printers.
As of May 2016, 76 of our wet processing facilities have disclosed their wastewater test results on the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) DETOX Disclosure Platform. Disclosure includes facilities across Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan and includes 74% of our fabric sourced from our nominated fabric mills. In addition to DETOX disclosure, we are also working with IPE to screen our supply chain for environmental violations, including wastewater, and requesting facilities for a public response on corrective actions being undertaken along with implementation timelines.
Our goal is to have 80% of our wet processing facilities to disclose their wastewater test results on the IPE platform. By Q3 2016 we would have disclosed;
By 2017 we are committed to disclosing the raw wastewater discharge results of;
We will continue to challenge ourselves to reach the 80% goal across our global wet processing facilities for all regions; Europe, Brazil, Mexico and China by 2018.
Our engagement with the chemicals industry led to
chemical companies developing MRSL compliant formulations.
In line with our ZDHC commitment, we’re helping our wet processing units better manage chemicals. We recognize that too successfully drive and sustain change, at an industry level, a clear strategic plan is required. Our Strategy to Drive Change sets out our journey and steps needed to accomplish this.
As a result of our auditing we are adapting the support we offer each mill, in line with their level of knowledge and expertise. In this way, each mill can implement its own improvement plan, with regular support from us. To help them even more, we’ll publish common issues and solutions in a new Sustainable Chemicals Management handbook.
In 2016, the programme will extend to another 50 facilities. We are one of the largest users of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index 3.0 measurement tools pilot, which offer a holistic approach to environmental performance. By sharing results across brands, we can help to reduce the number of audits needed in the broader supply chain.
Looking ahead, we will help mills voice their concerns, ask the most successful suppliers to show other businesses how they’ve benefited from technical improvements, and share our findings with the industry. We will also begin ranking our suppliers, partially on their ability to comply with our chemical and environmental management criteria.
Of course, the chemical industry plays an important role in eliminating hazardous chemicals and devising safer alternatives. Since 2012, we have engaged with major industry players in China, including chemical suppliers, industry associations, and government agencies. This work has led to 24 chemical companies distributing positive formulations lists and declaring their products to be MRSL-compliant. While these claims need more verification, we’re encouraged by this progress and plan to build on it in 2016.
In Brazil, we see a big opportunity to compel the fashion industry to manage chemicals more responsibly. With the Brazilian Technical Standards Association, we’re developing a comprehensive and voluntary standard, due in 2017. We’re participating in the steering group and sharing insights from our own work restricting and eliminating harmful substances across the world. The standard will draw from existing standards and its product list will cover 80% of the substances currently addressed by ZDHC.
In China, we have been working closely with the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), an industry federation which represents all textile related industries in China, on how to address the issue of hazardous chemicals across the Chinese supply chain. We have worked closely to raise the awareness of hazardous chemicals, we have supported several conferences for Chinese suppliers, in addition to, advising on the development of the Chemical Improvement Exchange (CiE) platform which will allow wet process facilities in China to upload their chemical inventory and cross check against the level of MRSL conformance. We also supported the launch of the Textile Sustainable Manufacturing Coalition (TexSMC); an alliance for textile enterprise and key stakeholders of the Chinese textile industry to move the supply chain towards sustainability.
We have also supported the dialogue with the China Dyestuff Industry Association whom is now working with their membership, alongside ZDHC, on integrating the MRSL standard.
In Bangladesh, our local Sustainable Chemicals Management team has been providing advice on development of the Standards and Guidelines for Sludge Management that will provide guidance on how to manage and dispose of hazardous sludge waste. This effort has directly led to the Bangladeshi Department of Environment seeking to upgrade outdated local legislation for sludge management across the country.
By 2020 aim to source 100% of our cotton from more sustainable sources that use less water, where the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is little to none. Currently, 40% of our cotton collections are produced with more sustainable cotton using either organic or Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) cotton.
In addition, we are embarking on an exciting journey to create a circular economy in the apparel industry. A journey that will see the move away from the make, use and dispose economy to one that allows us to keep resources in use for as long as possible. We will be partnering with the C&A Foundation to create a hub focused on incubating and accelerating technologies that support the circular economy in the apparel industry.
As the world’s climate changes and the global population grows, the world’s fresh water supplies - which represent just 2.5% of all water - are even more strained. More than one billion people already live in areas where water is scarce and, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could face water shortages, according to the United Nations.
In the apparel value chain, water is primarily used in three areas: growing raw materials, the wet processing of clothes when fabrics are dyed and finished, and clothes washing by customers. With an estimated total industry water footprint of 141 billion cubic metres annually, our industry must work together to reduce water use and protect water supplies from pollution.
In addition, water has the potential to be impacted most in apparel production through the pesticide runoff from conventional cotton farming and in the production and treatment of fabrics. From consumption to discharge, water resources must be managed sustainably.
Read more about our cleaner production projects.
Reducing these impacts is at the heart of our corporate water strategy, which we’re developing in 2016. We began this work in 2015 by getting an in-depth understanding of our cradle-to-grave water footprint with Aligned Incentives and our raw-material water footprints with the Water Footprint Network.
Investing in clean production can save water, energy, and carbon, while keeping harmful chemicals out of the environment. Two clean production programmes - the Better Mill Initiative (BMI) in China and the Partnership for Cleaner Textile in Bangladesh (PaCT) - also offer lasting benefits to our suppliers’ businesses and our own.
The Better Mill Initiative is a three-year collaboration between global fashion brands and Solidaridad, a non-profit organization. With an objective to improve sustainability among wet processing mills across the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas in China, the project has already delivered impressive savings in its first 15 months. The project report is available here.
C&A has been closely involved since we helped found the initiative in 2013. Today, we’re working with five key suppliers to conserve water and energy, improve their chemicals management expertise, reduce waste, cut emissions, and improve worker health and safety.
of water reduced
of energy saved
of chemicals eliminated
Nearly two-thirds of the groundwater consumed in Bangladesh each year is used by textile wet-processors to wash, dye, rinse, and finish fabric. The factories can also affect the quality and availability of drinking water in local communities.
The Bangladesh Water Partnership for Clean Textiles (PaCT) is committed to a sustainable, competitive, and cleaner wet dyeing and finishing sector. Launched in 2013, the three-year project unites global fashion brands like C&A with industry associations, financial institutions, and community leaders to build local capacity. C&A Foundation is one of the lead sponsors.
Through training and on-site support, PaCT is introducing cleaner production methods to 52 factories and mills that supply to C&A. The programme helps mills access funding to invest in changes, which are in turn designed to pay for themselves in a short time. Since the project started, PaCT has delivered impressive results for even more environmental improvements:
of water saved per year
of wastewater per year
of greenhouse gases avoided per year
saved for the participating factories since the start of the launch
In mid-2015, we started auditing our first and second tier production units against the new Code of Conduct, which benchmarks environmental requirements. For production units that have wet processes like garment washing, dyeing, and printing, we have additional requirements on waste and chemicals, that in some cases go above and beyond the industry benchmark. Information collected from the audits is used to set our baseline and inform future targets and improvement strategy.
Environmental impacts identified in our supply chain
|Brazil||Europe and China||Mexico|
|Production units subject to environmental impact assessments||861||1,692||9|
|Production units identified as having significant negative environmental impacts||77||227||1|
|Environmental impacts identified||Lack of, or non-compliance with the waste management certificate|
Lack of, or non-compliance with environmental license
Lack of community or environmental programmes
Lack of, or non-compliance with effluent treatment programme for production waste
Lack of ANVISA license
Lack of permission for effluent disposal
Lack of adequate program or initiative for the disposal of waste from wood chips
Lack of adequate program or initiatives for the disposal of used bulbs
|The majority of the negative environmental impacts were with regard to the handling, transportation and disposal of waste. Further non-compliances with significant impact include wastewater treatment or air emissions.||Lack of waste water treatment|