Taking action in-store together Small changes make a big difference

Although we aim to make the most sustainable choices on behalf of our customers, we can only do so much on our own. We are looking at ways we can use our position on sustainability to do more to engage our customers in-store – so that sustainability can become something we all do together, every day.

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Our 2016 performance

Targeting plastic bags in Germany

As many as one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year [Source: EPA] and they represent a major source of pollution and threat to sea life. As part of a voluntary commitment with the German retail association HDE, C&A introduced a fee of 20 cents for plastic bags in Germany in April 2016. We were amazed at the results: plastic bag use dropped by 67% in a year. C&A also charges for plastic bags in Austria and paper bags in France.
Read more

Recycling clothes in the Netherlands

We’ve been running a Take-back clothes recycling programme in the Netherlands since 2012. As part of our commitment to moving towards circular fashion, C&A will be expanding the programme to Europe, Brazil, Mexico and China in 2017/18.

C&A customers in our Dutch stores can get a 5% discount voucher for donating old clothing of any brand under the slogan, ‘Bring your old clothes to C&A and give them a second life’. Our recycling partner, I:CO, an international apparel and shoe recycling expert, decides which items can be sold again on the second-hand market, and which can be recycled to create raw materials for new products. For every kilo of garments or shoes collected, I:CO makes a donation to the organisation CharityStar, which supports underprivileged European communities. Since its launch in 2012, our customers have donated over 240,000 kilograms of clothing.

While we have in-store Take-back in the Netherlands, we still have a long way to go with regards to rolling this out in other markets. We need government support and legislation that facilitates this and industry wide collaboration.

Recycling electronic equipment in Brazil

In Brazil, we sell cell phones in addition to clothing, and we have shared responsibility for taking back and disposing appropriately of cell phones and batteries. We work with GM&Clog, who collect the waste and make sure it gets to the correct destination. We have an e-learning programme to all store staff to help to raise awareness of this issue. In 2016, 68,795 items were collected in our stores, up from 64,451 in 2015.

Highlights of our in-store actions included:

  • A 67% reduction in plastic bag use at C&A Germany between April 2016 and April 2017, following a charge of 20 cents per bag.
  • Over 240,000 kg of clothing donated by customers through our in-store Take-back scheme in the Netherlands since 2012.
  • A 7% increase in items collected in 2016 (compared to 2015) through our cell phone and battery recycling scheme in Brazil.
  • 12,000 items of C&A Brazil uniform sent to partners who use the material to make key fobs, bags and notebook sleeves. More than 90,000 items have been recycled in this way since 2014.
  • 3,400 tonnes of hangers were recycled in Europe and Brazil.

Where next?

Towards circular fashion
Our ambition is to move towards circular fashion. Taking back clothes from customers is just one aspect of a new circular system. With our new GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt we are showing how a product can be designed to reuse materials, while improving the social conditions throughout the value chain.

Read more about circular fashion here

Europe: Take-back programme

We hope to roll out our Take-back programme in other European countries in 2017 and will evaluate the possibility of a further roll out in other locations in the future.

Read more about waste and our progress on in-store Take-back programmes 

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