Clean environment Continually driving significant water and carbon reductions

The apparel industry faces environmental challenges at every stage of a garment’s life, from farms, 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 67% of our cotton is now more sustainable, our role in driving less impact is significant on the upstream supply chain.






We believe that our focus areas should be based on scientifically sound data and analysis. In 2017, we completed our third C&A-specific, cradle-to-grave hybrid Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to better understand our carbon and water footprints and our impacts on climate change and water risk. 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 global goals to reduce water use in the production of raw materials, striving to cut waste and water use in our own operations, and providing in-store recycling solutions for our customers. 

Our 2017 actions

Launch a hazard-based chemical assessment project across key fabric mills and laundries and conduct a project to understand the provenance of chemicals.

Extend Sustainable Chemicals Management program to all key tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 suppliers.

Improve our hybrid Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to better understand our carbon and water footprints and the impact of our actions in these areas.

Commit to the development of science-based climate targets.

Our 2017 performance

Implementing Sustainable Chemicals Management (SCM) 

We started 2016 with 50 fabric mills in our SCM programme. We now have 348 production units covered globally under the SCM programme, including all major fabric mills, laundries, printers and vertical set-ups. Over the next two years, we will shift our focus from expanding coverage to driving impact creation jointly with our industry partners in three key areas:

  1. Input management – identify safer chemicals, drive adoption and eliminate the usage of hazardous chemicals.
  2. Process management – assess and verify on-site chemical management systems and performance.
  3. Output management – validate the elimination of hazardous chemicals from wastewater and publicly disclose.

In 2017, C&A communicated its SCM Minimum Performance Standard and Rating System globally with our supply chain to ensure our expectations of chemical management performance are clearly understood. The Standard, and its associated performance requirements, is updated annually as we work towards ZDHC.

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). This is in line with our commitment to utilise industry tools and standards to ensure we reduce cost and complexity across our supply chain.

Driving the adoption of safer chemistry

We have been collaborating with other brands and stakeholders on a chemical screening project that uses a hazard-based approach to identify and substitute best-in-class or better alternatives. We have also been collaborating on the development of the ZDHC Gateway, a platform funded by C&A Foundation, which acts as a global database of green chemistry and wastewater testing results.

Carbon and water footprint reductions

We completed our third hybrid Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in 2017, gathering data on our carbon and water footprints from cradle to grave. We reduced our carbon footprint by 15% compared to 2016, driven by a reduction in the materials we used (despite selling more items in 2017) and by the sourcing of more sustainable materials.

We continued to realise significant water reductions during 2017, reducing our our total water footprint by 14% compared to 2016. These savings resulted from a 29% reduction in blue water consumption, a 15% reduction in green water consumption and a 13% in grey water consumption.

To make further reductions, in 2017 we committed to new global 2025 goals to reduce water in the production of our raw materials by 30%, and to further reduce the water we use in stores, distribution centres and head offices by 10% (compared to 2015).

Towards zero waste 

In 2017, C&A committed to sending zero waste to landfill from C&A stores, distribution centres and head offices by 2025. With products such as our GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM collection developed in 2017, we’re also one step closer to our goal of circular fashion. 

Who we’re working with