Animal welfare Treating animals with care and respect

C&A has a long-standing commitment to high standards of animal welfare. We believe that animals should be treated with care, respect, and dignity, as per the Five Freedoms. We work hard with partners and our suppliers to make sure this approach is standard practice across our supply chain. This involves focusing on all the animal-based raw materials involved in the production of our clothing.

Our animal welfare policy

Our policy on animal welfare states that we will:

  • Expect our suppliers to abide by the internationally-accepted Five Freedoms for animal welfare.
  • Never use products for which animals have been slaughtered or harmed in any way for their skin, fur or feathers. 
  • Strive to increase traceability from the farm to the final product.
  • Only use raw materials that come from animals used for meat production. 
  • Never accept materials from exotic, threatened or endangered species, as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

Our approach is collaborative, working hand in hand with others who are tackling similar issues. We set, define, and implement industry level solutions with animal welfare organisations, fellow brands, retailers, our suppliers, and independent auditors. 

We also actively listen, welcoming challenges and criticism that can help us improve. Ensuring high standards of animal welfare means that the apparel industry must be accountable for the promises we make.

Read more about how we engage with our stakeholders

For the last 10 years, we have worked hard to eradicate animal welfare issues from our supply chain. We started banning fur in the 1990s, have been a Fur Free Retailer since 2013. To date, we have banned the following materials and practices:

  • Live-plucking and force-feeding geese and ducks for down and feather production
  • The use of angora, real fur, and mohair
  • The practice of mulesing merino sheep
  • Bovine-based leather from India, or leather with hair attached from China or India

Safeguarding animal welfare in cashmere production

In 2018, we started to look cashmere as part of our commitment to making sure our animal welfare policy was implemented through our animal-based fibre. We acknowledge the challenges that cashmere production might have and we are determined to work towards using a more sustainable cashmere. The first step taken was to work with our suppliers to identify the cashmere upstream supply chain. To this end, we joined the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), a non-profit international organisation working with the extended cashmere supply chain, from herders to retailers.

Currently, 15 international brands and retailers have joined SFA, united in a goal to implement the Sustainable Cashmere Standard to preserve and restore grasslands, ensure animal welfare, and secure livelihoods. The SFA provides an excellent forum to jointly identify actions that will address three main objectives:

  • Environmental resilience in cashmere-producing regions
  • Improved long-term prospects for herding communities that rely on cashmere markets
  • Assurance of animal welfare within cashmere production

Since C&A joined the roadmap, SFA has discussed the strategy headlines in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the member commitments, and the measurement of impacts throughout the cashmere supply chain.

Read our animal welfare policy here

Our 2018 performance

Maintaining our Responsible Down Standard-certified supply chain

We have been sourcing 100% RDS-certified down since 2016. In 2018, we brought over 1.3 million products containing down to market, all certified to RDS.

 

During the year, we continued applying our findings from 2017, when we conducted additional due diligence visits to RDS-certified supply chains to determine where further improvements could be made. Our visit showed that, in the future, we should rely less on local legislation to define our minimum requirements, instead supporting RDS to make sure it sets minimum standards that can be applied in markets where legislation is not stringent. We should also strengthen the standard requirements over time to ensure continuous improvement in animal welfare practices and include training modules to drive awareness among suppliers. This work has continued in 2018.

Read more about responsibly sourced down
 

Listening, investigating, and taking action

We are constantly seeking to improve our practices. When legitimate concerns are raised, we take them extremely seriously. We listen and investigate to ensure the necessary action is taken. For example, when we discovered violations in our angora wool supply chain in 2013, we eliminated it from our entire product range because the supply chain was opaque and we understood that it would be difficult for us to ensure the welfare of all animals in the process.

 

In 2018, we started to look cashmere as part of our commitment to making sure our animal welfare policy was implemented through our animal-based fiber. As a result, in 2019, we joined the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, which is working with the extended cashmere supply chain, from herders to retailers. Their goal is to promote a global sustainability standard for cashmere production to preserve and restore grasslands, ensure animal welfare, and secure livelihoods. In 2019, we will define the scope of our work and next steps. Only through collaborations like these will we be able to drive impact and improve practices.

 

Following allegations of animal abuse in the mohair industry, we have banned the use of mohair from the angora goat beginning with the Spring/Summer season 2019. As of this season, no product with mohair is sold by C&A.


Where next?

Going forward, we will continue working towards strengthening the Responsible Down Standard and will source only RDS-certified down for all our feather- and down-filled products. We will also continue our work with SFA to extend sustainable and humane practices throughout the entire cashmere supply chain. Other existing commitments, such as remaining a fur-free retailer and banning certain practices from our supply chain, will of course continue.

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