Clean environment Continually driving significant water and carbon reductions

The apparel industry faces environmental challenges at every stage of a garment’s life, from the farm, to fabric and garment production, through to transportation and in our stores. Our cornerstone commitment to sourcing more sustainable cotton results in significant carbon and water savings when compared to conventional cotton. Considering that one in every two cotton items we sell is more sustainable, the impact of this cascades through our supply chain each time a garment is bought. 

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We believe that our focus areas should be based on scientifically sound data and analysis. This year, we completed our second C&A specific, cradle to grave, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to better understand our carbon and water footprints. We’re also working hard to build and test robust assessment tools for chemicals and environmental management that drive consistent change toward zero discharge of hazardous chemicals and reduced environmental impacts across the industry. Finally, we continue to strengthen our efforts by setting new goals in Europe to reduce water use in the production of raw materials and striving to cut waste and water use in our own operations, as well as provide more in-store recycling solutions for our customers. 

Our 2016 actions

Expand our Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme to 100 wet processing facilities – complete.

Create a strategy to support C&A Foundation’s strategy on water efficiency and conservation in important basins of cotton production for C&A in India & China – TBC

Develop goals for water and waste management – completed for Europe.

Work towards 20% carbon footprint reduction in stores, distribution centres and offices by 2020 – ongoing.

Our 2016 performance

Implementing Sustainable Chemicals Management (SCM) 

We started 2016 with 50 suppliers included in our SCM programme. We now have 111, which represents 74% of our nominated fabric volume. Over the next two years, we plan to scale up the programme significantly – beyond those who have been nominated – to laundries, printers and additional fabric mills across our entire supply chain. We have also piloted our SCM management training for suppliers, as well as supporting development of the ZDHC Academy, which will be migrated to our only training module in 2018.


Chemical Audits and Higg 3.0 pilot 

We have been actively supporting the convergence of the ZDHC Chemical Management Audit and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index tool to create the Higg Index 3.0 Facility Environment Module (FEM), due to launch in late 2017.


Collaborating on screened chemistry and data management

We have been collaborating with other brands and stakeholders on a screening project that aims to identify and prevent hazardous chemicals from entering the supply chain, thereby designing out the issue of non-compliance. We have also been collaborating on, and are currently developing and implementing several data management systems, including our wastewater disclosure platform, Higg 3.0 FEM and the ZDHC’s Chemical Gateway.


Carbon and water footprint reductions

We completed our second Life Cycle Assessment gathering data on our carbon and water footprints from cradle to grave. Compared to our calculations in 2015, our 2016 performance has improved due to improvements in how garments are manufactured and by sourcing more sustainable raw materials. By increasing the granularity of our estimates, we have been able to reset a new baseline for us to work from. To make further reductions, we also set new goals in Europe to reduce water in the production of our raw materials by 30%, and to reduce the water we use in stores, distribution centres and head offices by 10%.


Towards zero waste 

In 2016, we committed to zero waste to landfill in our operations in Europe, where we are also investigating what it would take to develop end-of-life product solutions for our customers. With products such as our GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt developed this year, we’re also one step closer to our goal of circular fashion. 

Who we’re working with

Making a clean environment the norm through more sustainable cotton

Our cornerstone commitment to sourcing 100% of our cotton from more sustainable sources by 2020 means a significant reduction in water use, greenhouse gas emissions, GMO use, and the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. This action alone is a major step towards how we can make a clean environment the norm.

We are also seeking to play a part in transforming the apparel industry by using other levers. Our commitment to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals and our work with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is helping drive improvements in the convergence of industry-wide environmental standards around the SAC’s Higg 3.0 Facility Environment Module. The roll-out of the new assessment tool will change how our whole industry measures their environmental performance.

We have also started to develop circular fashion products, with the launch of the first GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle Certified™ T-shirt, developed in partnership with Fashion for Good. This exciting product will be available at scale in our stores and is made with safe and non-toxic materials and dyes, 100% renewable energy, 100% recycled water and fair labour practices. It can be composted at home into healthy soil in just 11 weeks.

Read more on our approach to circular fashion here

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