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 and nothing is wasted in their creation or disposal.


We are proud of what we’ve achieved in 2018: 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 2018, 71% of the cotton we sourced and 49% of the raw materials we used were more sustainable, and we remained the world’s leading buyer of certified organic cotton for the sixth year.

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. 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

Cotton Polyester Viscose Chemicals used Aldicarb Fluometuron Prometryn Acephate Dimethipin Paraquat > Trade names of pesticides Chlorine dioxide Ozone Sulphuric acid · Ammonium hydroxide > Used in pulp production process Ethylene glycol, used to react with dimethyl terephthalate to form monomers CO 2 emissions per kg of fibre Water in use in litre per kg of fibre Source: McKinsey team analysis; EPA 2015 Upper Range Lower Range · · · · · · · · · · 3.4 9.2 7.9 14.2 5.0 11.3 2,740 7,000 17 60 263 473

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 one way 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, while supporting 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.
  • Create strong policies on key impact areas like water use, biodiversity and climate change.
  • 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 encourage others in the industry to join us in extending positive outcomes far beyond our businesses.
  • Use industry and multi-stakeholder-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