Sustainable materials Supporting the uptake of sustainable raw materials

Our long-term goal is to help the apparel industry become circular, where our products are designed and sourced with their end of use in mind.


We are proud of what we’ve achieved in 2017: making significant progress towards our target of sourcing 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020 and increasing the sustainability of our raw materials to 67% by 2020. In 2017, 67% of the cotton we sourced and 44% of the raw materials we used were more sustainable, and we remained the world’s leading buyer of certified organic cotton.

More sustainable cotton

Other raw materials

Why sustainable materials are so important

Our clothing is made from a wide variety of raw materials, including cotton, polyester, viscose, wool, linen and leather. In particular, C&A can drive change in how cotton, polyester and viscose are grown and manufactured, which we buy in large quantities. To ensure the materials we use to make our clothes are more sustainable, we strive to source them from farms and work with manufacturers that use fewer natural resources, respect nature and people, and protect the welfare of animals. From sourcing fibres and dyeing fabrics to cutting and sewing clothing, we're working hard to reduce the impacts of our materials and design more innovative products.

The range of impacts for different materials

Water in use in litre per kg of fibre Source: Mc Kinsey team analysis; EPA 2015 Lower Range Upper Range Cotton 3 . 4 9 . 2 Polyester 7 . 9 1 4 . 2 Viscose 5 . 0 1 1 . 3 C O 2 emissions per kg of fibre 2 , 7 4 0 7 , 00 0 1 7 6 0 2 6 3 4 7 3 Chemicals used · Aldicarb · Fluometuron · Prometryn · Acephate · Dimethipin · Paraquat > Trade names of pesticides · Ethylene glycol, used to react with dimethyl terephthalate to form monomers · Chlorine dioxide · Ozone · Sulphuric acid · Ammoniumhydroxide > Used in pulp production process

Who we’re working with

How we’re working to make sustainable materials the norm

Using the most sustainable materials possible in our products is how we ensure our customers feel good and do good. We believe in making our clothing responsibly: creating products that are the best they can be without compromising the welfare of those in our supply chain. To do this, we:

  • Set targets across the business, so everyone has a stake in ensuring our materials meet the highest standards.
  • Conduct due diligence that goes beyond simply relying on third-party standards.
  • Work with stakeholders and industry leaders who champion best practice to make our products the best they can be. And we don’t stop there – we look to take the industry with us.
  • Use industry and multistakeholder-developed standards and initiatives rather than develop our own standards and initiatives. We believe common frameworks at a global level are the only way of shifting the whole industry towards best practice.
  • Work to reduce the water and chemical use, carbon and waste impacts of the apparel industry, while ensuring people’s rights in our supply chain are protected.

Read more about cultivating supply and demand for organic cotton in China