Dear C&A stakeholders,
For the past few years, we have demonstrated our progress against our 2020 Global Sustainability Framework in this annual Sustainability Report. 2017 marks the midpoint in our strategy: our mission has created a groundswell of interest and action within our company and with our customers, but we still have a long way to go.
Our strategy was developed with the aim of mainstreaming sustainability, taking it from niche to normal. Not a series of pilots. Not a luxury for those who can afford it. Ultimately, we want to be at a point where consumers do not need to make a choice between looking good, feeling good and doing good.
Over the years, we have learned that to make sustainability the norm in apparel, we need to push the boundaries of what is possible. We have to take a leap of faith, setting bold goals that may seem impossible to achieve in order to push ourselves and the industry further.
That’s how we approached our commitment to certified organic cotton, in collaboration with C&A Foundation. We started this commitment in 2005 with only 1 million garments made of organic cotton. Today, we are the largest volume buyer of certified organic cotton worldwide, with over 170 million pieces sold in 2017. We’ve reached a leadership position that we had not envisioned was reachable – or even possible – when we started out.
We see the same possibilities with the work we are doing right now.
Our C2C collection. We launched 1.3 million pieces of Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM apparel in 2017, maintaining the most sustainable fashion collection currently on the market at this scale. It is only by taking this leap of faith that we will prove that it can be done, engage our customers and inspire the industry to take action. Eventually, we want to create a new norm in how clothing is designed for its next life: non-toxic, made with 100% renewable energy and 100% recycled water – and produced in a way that affords dignity and fairness to workers.
Man-made cellulosics. In 2017, in our Europe and China retail markets, we have taken the bold step of committing to source 100% of our man-made cellulosic fibres from suppliers whose practices prevent ancient or endangered forest products from entering their supply chain. We are shifting the market towards sustainable man-made cellulosics, and encouraging other brands to follow our lead.
Bringing customers on our sustainability journey. We launched #WearTheChange, our first global, multi-channel sustainability brand campaign, across our major markets. All products advertised under #WearTheChange are produced and sourced in a way that is more sustainable than conventional methods. This permanent campaign is accompanied by an in-store take-back programme, allowing customers can bring back unwanted clothing.
Supporting Global Frameworks. With the emergence of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, our long standing committment to the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact and our support of key industry initatives like Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Make Fashion Circular, we will evolove our strategy a new high by faciliating collaboration across the apparel value chain.
As one of the leading mainstream fashion brands, we have a duty to make sustainability the norm. To get there, we’ll need to keep on taking leaps of faith – challenging orthodoxies, demonstrating leadership and catalysing convergence in the industry.
This is our role, and we’re committed to playing it until sustainable fashion is the new normal.
Jeffrey Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer, C&A Global
Edward K. Brenninkmeijer, Chairman Global Sustainability Board. Chairman C&A Foundation Board.