Our 2018 performance Strong performance towards our 2020 aspirational goals

We made strong progress towards our 2020 sustainability goals in 2018. A total of 71% of the cotton we source is now either organic cotton or sourced as Better Cotton. This represents an increase over the previous year.

In early 2018, we also launched our first global, multi-channel sustainability communications platform, #WearTheChange, which allows customers to recognise our more sustainable products via the #WearTheChange label in stores and online, and provides an umbrella communications platform for sustainability initiatives such as unwanted clothing take-back, in-store waste programmes, and other initiatives that engage our employees and our customers.

Building on the success of our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts, in 2018 we launched a collection of gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM jeans. In so doing, C&A became the world’s first retailer to offer an entire pair of men’s and women’s jeans made completely from sustainable materials – from fibre to buttons to hem – which can be recycled at end of use. To date, we have received almost 4 million pieces of Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM items, which underscores the importance of sustainable fashion to our customers.

We continue to focus on strengthening our programmes across the rest of our supply chain to meet our 2020 goals for top-rated suppliers, particularly in relation to safe and fair labour practices and zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. Across all our sustainability focus areas, we remain committed to our goals and to strengthening our efforts in leading industry-wide change.

Our performance overview

Sustainable Products

  • 71% of the cotton we source is certified organic cotton or sourced as Better Cotton, up from 67% in 2017, 53% in 2016, and 40% in 2015. We remain the world’s leading buyer of certified organic cotton. 
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  • Over one-quarter of the cotton we buy is sourced as Better Cotton, making us one of the world’s largest contributors to the Better Cotton Initiative. 
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  • 49% of the raw materials we use in our collections – such as cotton, viscose, and polyester – are now sourced more sustainably. 
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  • In Europe and China, we have taken the bold step of committing to source 100% of our man-made cellulosic fibres from suppliers who have practices in place to prevent ancient or endangered forest products entering their supply chain. 
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  • We work closely with Fashion for Good, where we are collaborating to drive circular economy approaches into our supply chain with other leading brands by implementing new technologies from innovative start-ups.
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  • We are sharing our learnings from the development of our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products with the industry through Fashion for Good’s Good Fashion Guide and other resources, which are open-source roadmaps. 
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  • We developed and offered the world’s first gold Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Jeans in several Mens’ and Ladies’ styles. 
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  • We have now brought almost 4 million pieces of our revolutionary Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM apparel to market in Europe, Brazil, and Mexico. 
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  • We were recognized by Ethical Corporation with the Sustainable Innovation of the Year award for our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM gold level T-shirts, as well as by AMCHAM Brasil Prêmio Eco.
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  • C&A Europe introduced our first recycled nylon products in early 2018: around 80,000 pieces of lingerie certified to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
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  • 100% of our down and feathers meet the Responsible Down Standard, and we are working to strengthen the standard. 
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  • We are working with the Organic Cotton Accelerator, CottonConnect, and C&A Foundation to improve the business case for organic cotton for 300 farmers in India. 
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  • We expanded our in-store take-back programme to new geographies globally, reaching nine countries as of 2019, including a new pilot take-back initiative at 10 stores in Mexico and an online take-back programme in Germany that also supports Save the Children.
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Sustainable Supply

  • We disclose 100% of our tier-1 and tier-2 suppliers across all four regions. The names and addresses of the factories of our 722 suppliers are plotted on a supplier map. 
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  • We continued to work with suppliers through our Supplier Ownership Programme, covering more than 67,500 workers.
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  • We continued to deliver a strong and constantly evolving audit process on safe and fair labour. In 2018, 46% of the workers in our supply chain work in top-performing, A- and B-rated factories that adhere to our high standards on minimum wages, discrimination, violence or abuse, protection of vulnerable groups, freedom of association, undisclosed production, health & safety, and environmental compliance.
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  • We are among the leading brands for remediation in line with the Bangladesh Accord. C&A was one of the first signatories of the Accord, and six years on, 96% of the issues identified across C&A’s supplier operations have been corrected. Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) are in place for the remaining operations.
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  • We are one of the only fashion brands to disclose our entire greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and cradle-to-grave water footprint. 
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  • We completed our fourth hybrid life cycle assessment to measure our carbon and water footprints from cradle to grave. Compared to our estimate for 2016, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 14% in 2018.
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  • 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 offices by 10% compared to 2015. 
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  • We continued to implement the Sustainable Chemicals Management (SCM) Programme at all key tier-1, tier-2, and tier-3 suppliers, creating tangible progress towards our Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals commitment.
  • We worked closely with suppliers to build knowledge, strengthen skills, and drive remediation in the supply chain so our suppliers can meet our SCM requirements. During the year, 85% achieved compliance.
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  • We led industry-wide convergence on a standardised environmental assessment tool called the Higg 3.0 Facility Environment Module (FEM) as part of our collaboration with other brands in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and in 2018, we adopted the Higg 3.0 module for use in our own supply chain. 
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  • We implemented tools to increase the transparency of the chemicals used in our supply chain, including CleanChain, which provides information that will drive the adoption of safer chemistry.
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Sustainable Lives

  • C&A was recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand in Brazil, the Netherlands, and Germany in our fourth annual survey of more than 6,000 customers, conducted in partnership with GlobeScan.
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  • We continued customer engagement in our sustainability journey with #WearTheChange, our global, multi-channel sustainability communications platform, in Europe, Brazil, China, and Mexico. #WearTheChange was localised in Brazil and China and translated for use in multi-faceted outreach campaigns and internal communications.
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  • 93% of employees in China, 92% in Brazil, and 90% in Mexico, told us they feel proud of C&A’s contribution on the community, society, and environment. 
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  • During its first year, the Inspiring World campaign involved 65% of C&A global employees representing 21 countries, and provided a collective €1 million in donations through C&A Foundation to 45 charities, benefitting more than 250,000 people.
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  • Between March and December 2018, the C&A Together programme funded 142 initiatives in 18 European countries, donating €2.9 million. 
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  • C&A and C&A Foundation won the 2018 Employee Engagement Awards in the category Social Responsibility for our Inspiring World campaign, launched that same year.
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Progress towards our 2020 goals

Sustainable Products

ExceedingMeeting Not Progressing

KPI - % share of total cotton products

Total global share

Retail Markets/Metric Status 2016 2017 2018
Europe 61% 74% 74%
Brazil 26% 42% 61%
China 85% 95% 96%
Mexico 2% 35% 48%
Units of more sustainable cotton - total pieces - 222,195,516 294,072,750 318,456,614
Units of organic cotton [2] - total pieces - 138,722,325 173,224,396 170,496,672
Units of BCI and REEL Cotton [3] - total pieces - 83,473,191 120,848,354 147,959,942
[1] More Sustainable Cotton - The sum of cotton that has been either certified to the Organic Content Standard (OCS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), sourced under the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), or is certified as recycled.

[2] Pieces of Certified Organic Cotton - Garment pieces made of cotton certified by a third party under the Organic Content Standard (OCS) or the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

[3] Pieces of Better Cotton - An estimate of pieces sourced under the Better Cotton Initiative's mass balance system in metric tons converted into pieces.

KPI - % share of total products

Total global share

Retail Markets Status 2016 2017 [2] 2018
Europe 39% 49% 51%
Brazil 16% 25% 40%
China 45% 58% 65%
Mexico 1% 21% 31%
[1] More sustainable raw materials - this is the proportion of raw materials sourced under a third-party certification scheme. This includes, but is not limited to, certified organic cotton (OCS or GOTS), cotton sourced under BCI, viscose sourced under the Canopy Style Initiative, certified recycled polyester (GRS, RCS, or equivalent), down sourced under the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), etc. Note that until 2017 only cotton was declared as sustainable raw material; beginning in 2018, recycled polyester and more sustainable viscose have been included.

[2] The majority of this figure is more sustainable cotton. Other raw materials account for less than 1% of the total.

Sustainable Supply

ExceedingMeeting Not Progressing

  2016 2017 2018
2017 KPI – Number of mills audited 111 251 n/a
2018 KPI – % coverage of supplier expenditure n-a n-a 92%
In 2018, we adjusted this KPI to represent % coverage of supplier expenditure, which is a better representation of progress toward safer chemicals in our supply chain.

Total supply chain expenditure and the amount of expenditure from suppliers with wet processing units covered, audited, and tested. Important note: Suppliers without wet process units will be counted as audited and tested.

KPI – % change in CO2e/m2 Gross Leasable Area (GLA) compared to 2012 baseline

Global change from baseline

Metric 2016 2017 2018
Absolute carbon footprint
KPI – total metric tons (mt) CO2
159,500 167,261 139.676
Absolute energy footprint
KPI – total megawatt hours
885,625 815,314 810.674
Energy efficiency
KPI – % variance in kWh/m2 Gross Leasable Area (GLA)[3]
-14% -19% -20%
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory according to the
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol
6,348,491 5,436,246 5.485.876
Scope 1 GHG Emissions
KPI – metric tons (mt) CO2e
22,117 19,759 19.175
Scope 2 GHG Emissions
KPI – metric tons (mt) CO2e
137,383 147,502 120.501
Scope 3 GHG Emissions [2]
KPI – metric tons (mt) CO2e
6,188,991 5,268,985 5.346.200
[1] This metric changed from TUSA to GLA in 2017 and from location based to market based scope 2 methodology for purchased energy (electricity, district heating and cooling). Previous years re-calculated by our partner Aligned Incentives.

[2] Scope 3 calculations include the following 7 of the 15 scope categories in the GHG Protocol: purchased goods and services, fuel- and energy-related activities, upstream transportation and distribution, waste generated in operations, business travel, use of sold goods, and end-of-life treatment of sold products. Explanation of how our Scope 1, 2, and 3 calculations were conducted is included in the How We Report section of the website.

[3] Compared to 2012 baseline.

KPI - % change compared to 2016 baseline

Global change from baseline

[1] From 2016 baseline, by 2025.

This is a new goal. Therefore, we do not have data for previous years.
Reduction of Blue Water footprint

KPI – % change in m3/m2 Gross Leasable Area (GLA) compared to 2012 baseline

Global average

C&A China is not included as this water use is not material.

[1] From 2012 baseline, by 2025.
  2016 2017 2018
KPI – 0 waste to landfill (hazardous[2]
and non-hazardous, measured in metric tons)
Was not tracked 1,601 7,033
This is a new goal.

[1] By 2025.

[2] Includes lamps, electronic waste, light bulbs, and toner cartridges, among other forms of waste.

KPI - % share of volume of products sourced from A/B-rated suppliers

Total global share

Retail Markets Status 2016 2017 2018
Europe 89% 65% 70%
Brazil 42% 68% 78%
China 52% 68% 69%
Mexico 36% 50% 64%
A and B-rated suppliers are the highest performing suppliers as rated against our Code of Conduct and audit protocols. Each supplier is rated based on performance from audits conducted at the factory level.
  2016 2017 2018
KPI – Number of key factories included
in the Supplier Ownership Programme.1
24 24 39
[1] The Supplier Ownership Programme (SOP) is offered to key factories in the C&A supply chain to help build capacity and increase ownership of compliance and sustainability performance. It includes both certified and not-yet-certified suppliers and factories, or production units. During 2018, our SOP included 8 certified suppliers, 17 certified factories, as well as 7 suppliers and 7 factories that participate in the SOP, but are not yet certified. In addition, some suppliers 'graduate' from the SOP each year, so the total numbers reported here reflect both additions to and subtractions from the programme.

Sustainable Lives

ExceedingMeeting Not Progressing

KPI – % of employees surveyed who responded favourably to this statement: ‘I feel proud of C&A’s contribution on the community, society, and environment’.[2]

Global average

Retail Markets Status 2016 2017 2018
Europe 85% 85% 85%
Brazil 93% 87% 91%
China n/a 87% 90%
Mexico 88% 92% 90%
[1] Our Brazil, Mexico, and China regions have conducted employee surveys each year. In 2017 and 2018, Europe did not include the engagement question in their survey. In Brazil 5,042 employees participated. In Mexico 1,074 employees participated. In China 838 employees participated.

[2] In 2017 and 2018, we report the total score due to the omission of the sustainability-related question for Europe.
  2016 2017 2018
KPI – not yet established On track Signed WEP Region-specific
implementation plans
on gender parity and
developed for our
retail markets
Now that our regions have developed their roadmaps for achieving the seven principles, they will be able to set measurable goals.

KPI – Market ranking based on % of category buyers recognising the brand as a leader







Retail Markets/year

Country [2]
2016 2017 2018
Germany 9% 11% 10%
Netherlands 12% 14% 14%
France 4% 2% 2%
Brazil 17% 15% 16%
China 4% 2% 1%
Mexico 3% 3% 3%
[1] The survey included our main retail markets in terms of stores/revenues. 'Category buyers' refers to consumers of retail fashion who have shopped at C&A or our competitors at least once in the last year. The survey included 6,000 category buyers in the retail markets mentioned in the table. Percentages indicate the percentage of survey respondents from among the approximately 6,000 category buyers surveyed who recognise C&A as a sustainability leader.

[2] The percentage of respondents within each country that gave C&A the given rank each year.