Although we aim to make the most sustainable choices on behalf of our customers, we can only do so much on our own. We are looking at ways we can use our position on sustainability to do more to engage our customers in-store so that sustainability can become the new normal: something we all do together, every day.
Inviting customers on our sustainability journey
In our stores in Europe, Brazil, and China, the first thing our customers see is our new #WearTheChange platform, which aims to help our customers find the products they want and to be reassured that they have been produced and sourced sustainably. Beginning in April of 2019, #WearTheChange was launched in Mexico, bringing sustainability to life for customers around the world.
Offering more sustainable products
For many years, we have acted on behalf of our customers to make our clothes responsibly and source our materials with sustainability in mind. 71% of the cotton we use is organic cotton or sourced as Better Cotton, and we offer groundbreaking products such as our gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt.
Helping customers recycle with ‘we take it back’
Following its successful launch in the Netherlands, in 2017 we rolled out our in-store take-back programme to three additional retail markets – Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland. In 2018, we expanded to Portugal and Spain, scaled-up the programme in Brazil, and launched an online take-back programme in Germany that provides customers with another option for giving new life to their old clothes. In-store take-back became available as a pilot at some stores in Mexico in 2019and we aim to expand the programme further to additional markets by 2020.
The 'we take it back' programme is now available in 460 stores, where customers have given more than 650 metric tons (approximately 2 metric tons each day) of unwanted clothes a new life. In Germany, C&A has collaborated with PACKMEE as part of our first online take-back. Customers have sent in 17,000 parcels since September 2018, helping to keep unwanted clothing out of the landfill and supporting Save the Children Germany.
Since the successful take-back pilot in Brazil launched in late 2017, we have expanded the 'we take it back' programme from 31 to 80 participating C&A stores. In 2018 alone we collected 2,630 kg of items, representing 14,256 pieces. Of these, 73% were in good condition and sent for reuse to Centro Social Carisma, an organisation dedicated to children and their families. The remaining 27% of items were sent for recycling. Centro Social Carisma received €1,502 for selling the collected items and invested the money in projects that benefit over 400 people weekly. Since ‘we take it back’ began in Brazil, we have collected 2,831 kg, or 15,332 pieces for reuse and recycling.
Also in Brazil, we sell mobile phones in addition to clothing, and have shared responsibility for taking back and disposing appropriately of cell phones and batteries. In 2018 we collected 49,472 batteries and 3,960 cell phones. In total, 53,432 items were collected.
Key to our success with the take-back programme is employee engagement. Each year, C&A Brazil recognises the three stores that send the most cell phones and batteries for recycling. Store managers celebrate the accomplishments with employees, using the opportunity to share additional information about the positive impacts of the recycling programme through discussions, a video, and a small gift for all employees. In 2018, C&A stores in São Paulo, Pelotas, and Rio de Janeiro were recognised for collecting and sending the most electronic items for recycling.
Read more about our in-store take-back programmes
Giving customers a look at our sustainable stores
In Brazil, we are the first fashion retail company to have a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, bespoke Eco Store. Four times a year, we invite customers and other interested members of the public to visit and learn about the store behind the scenes.
Rolling out #WearTheChange across the globe
As of 2019, #WearTheChange will be active in all C&A retail markets, including Mexico, which is launching it early that year. We will continue communicating on the sustainability topics relevant for our customers and take our product storytelling to the next level through Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM labelling and a variety of regionally customised #WearTheChange communications. In order to truly break through and engage our customers, we are activating #WearTheChange across multiple channels.
For more about #WearTheChange in Mexico, view this video
Focusing our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM product approach
In Europe, our aim was to deliver more than two million Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM pieces over the first two seasons, alongside campaigns showcasing the products. So far, we have delivered almost 4 million pieces. In Brazil, we developed a Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM roadmap to build on the success of the launch and position ourselves to reach even more customers. We anticipate doing the same in Mexico in the coming year.
Going forward, we are focused on making sure we develop the right Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products and clothing collections, in keeping with what is commercially and locally relevant to customers. Prioritising and refining our approach to Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products will help us even better meet our customers’ demand for more sustainable fashion.
Expanding ‘we take it back’
In 2018, we continued to grow the programme, reaching even more countries during the year and in early 2019. We also expanded our take-back programme in Brazil from 31 stores in 2017 to 80 stores in 2018, and will expand to 130 stores in 2019. The take-back programme is also being extended to 10 stores in Mexico as a pilot programme during 2019.