Our 2019 performance Strong performance towards our 2020 aspirational goals

We made strong progress towards our 2020 sustainability goals in 2019. A total of 94% of the cotton we source is now either organic cotton or sourced as Better Cotton. This compares to 71% in 2018.

Building on the success of our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts and Gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM jeans, in 2019 we offered even more Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM clothing. We also developed the world's first Platinum level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM denim fabric during 2019. To date, we have received more than 4 million pieces of Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM items, which underscores the importance of sustainable fashion to our customers.

During the year, we also continued to communicate our sustainability efforts through Wear The Change, which allows customers to identify our more sustainable products via the #WearTheChange label in stores and online. Wear The Change also provides an easily recognised communications message for sustainability initiatives such as unwanted clothing take-back, in-store waste programmes, and other initiatives that engage our employees and our customers.

We also continue 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 enhancing our efforts in leading industry- wide change.

Our performance overview

Sustainable Products

  • 94% of the cotton we source is certified organic cotton or sourced as Better Cotton, up from 71% in 2018, 67% in 2017, 53% in 2016, and 40% in 2015.
  • Almost two-thirds (60%) of the cotton we buy is sourced as Better Cotton, making us one of the world’s largest contributors to the Better Cotton Initiative.
  • 64% of the raw materials we use in our collections, such as cotton, viscose, and polyester, are now sourced more sustainably. This compares with 49% in 2018, and brings us closer to our 2020 goal of 67%.
  • In Europe and China, we have committed 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.
  • We work closely with Fashion for Good, and together with other leading brands collaborate to drive sustainable fashion innovations towards a more sustainable and circular fashion system; implementing new technologies from innovative start-ups into our supply chain, and working together to scale these innovative technologies for the benefit of the industry.
  • We are sharing our learnings from the development of our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products with the industry through a collaborative report created together with Fashion for Good and shared through their Good Fashion Guide, alongside their other resources, comprising toolkits, reports, and whitepapers, which are all open source.
  • We continued offering the world’s first Gold Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM jeans in several Men's and Ladies’ styles, and developed the world’s first Platinum level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM denim fabric.
  • We have brought more than 4 million pieces of our revolutionary Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM apparel to market in Europe, Brazil, and Mexico. 
  • 100% of our down and feathers meet the Responsible Down Standard, and we are working to strengthen the standard.
  • We worked with the Organic Cotton Accelerator, CottonConnect, and C&A Foundation to improve the business case for organic cotton for 300 farmers in India.
  • We were recognised in the 2019 Textile Exchange Material Change Index as a 'Leading' brand, with 16 other brands.
  • We expanded our in-store take-back programme to new geographies globally, reaching nine countries as of 2019, including an online take-back programme in Germany as well as a new online take-back programme in France.

Sustainable Supply

  • We disclose 100% of our tier-1 and tier-2 suppliers across all four regions. The names and addresses of the factories, among other information, for our 635 suppliers are plotted on a supplier map.
  • We continued to work with suppliers through our Supplier Ownership Programme, covering more than 67,500 workers.
  • We continued to deliver a strong and constantly evolving audit process on safe and fair labour. In 2019, 52% 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, anti-discrimination, abolishing violence or abuse, protection of vulnerable groups, freedom of association, combating undisclosed production, safeguarding health & safety, and environmental compliance.
  • 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 seven years on, the vast majority of the issues identified across C&A’s supplier operations have been corrected. Corrective Action Plans are in place for the remaining operations.
  • We are one of the only fashion brands to disclose our entire greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and cradle-to-grave water footprint. 
  • We completed our fifth hybrid life cycle assessment to measure our carbon and water footprints from cradle to grave and established science-based targets to reduce emissions. Already, in just one year since setting the new targets, we have reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 9.5% compared to the new 2018 baseline.
  • Sourcing organic and Better Cotton, as well as sustainable cellulosic fibres, significantly reduced our water footprint. The use of blue water was reduced by 54%, green water by 35%, and grey water by 43% compared to conventional fibres.
  • We continued to implement the Sustainable Chemicals Management (SCM) Programme at all key tier-1, tier-2, and tier-3 suppliers, with 350 production units covered globally under the SCM Programme, creating tangible progress towards our Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals commitment. In 2019, we achieved 93% SCM Programme coverage of our supplier expenditure.
  • 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. Our 2019 analyses for nearly 55,000 chemical analytes in the wastewater of our supply chain demonstrated a pass rate of 99.6%, with the majority of analytes not detected.
  • In 2019, we replaced our internal SCM Audit with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index Facility Environmental Module. This allowed us to align with the primary tool in the industry to assess environmental and chemical performance, which helps suppliers to focus and avoid duplication of efforts.

Sustainable Lives

  • C&A was recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand for the fourth year in a row in Brazil and once again in Germany in our fifth annual survey of more than 6,000 customers, conducted in partnership with GlobeScan. Trust in C&A remained strong, with C&A rated top among apparel retailers trusted to act in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
    Read more
  • We continued customer engagement in our sustainability journey with #WearTheChange, our global, multi-channel sustainability communications platform. #WearTheChange was localised in some markets and translated for use in multi-faceted outreach campaigns and internal communications.

  • We phased out the sale of single-use plastic bags in stores across Europe, introducing the durable 'bag-for-life', made of 80% recycled PET, which can hold up on many shopping trips. Read more

  • The Inspiring World campaign, which completed its second year in 2019, involved 63% of C&A global employees representing 20 countries, and provided nearly €1 million in donations through C&A Foundation[1] to local charities.

  • In 2019, the C&A Together programme, funded by C&A Foundation[2],  donated €2.7 million to 122 initiatives. Funds were distributed to benefit children and young people in 18 European countries.

  • In Brazil, Instituto C&A supported 127 charities and 2,452 employee volunteers also participated in 444 events, 23% more events than in 2018.

  • Between March 2018 and February 2020, C&A Europe and C&A Mexico raised a total of €1.1 million for Save the Children through cause-related marketing and emergency appeals.Read more

[1] In January 2020, C&A Foundation became part of Laudes Foundation.

[2] In January 2020, C&A Foundation became part of Laudes Foundation.

Progress towards our 2020 goals

Sustainable Products

ExceedingMeeting Not Progressing

KPI - % share of total cotton products

Total global share

Retail Markets/Metric Status 2017 2018 2019
Europe 74% 74% 98%
Brazil 42% 61% 80%
China 95% 96% 97%
Mexico 35% 48% 52%
Units of more sustainable cotton - total pieces - 294,072,750 318,456,614 428,314,836
Units of organic cotton [2] - total pieces - 173,224,396 170,496,672 156,979,971
Units of BCI and REEL Cotton [3] - total pieces - 120,848,354 147,959,942 271,334,885
[1] More Sustainable Cotton - The sum of cotton that has been either certified to the Organic Cotton Standard (OCS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), placed as orders sourced under the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), or is verified as recycled. In 2019, the BCI methodology changed, as described in footnote 3 below.

[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 placed as orders sourced under BCI. Current reconciliation constraints do not allow for 100% Better Cotton Claim Unit (BCCU) crediting. Therefore, the 2019 Better Cotton share per placed orders sourced under BCI was 60%. Per BCCUs credited, it was 51%. In 2019, this methodology changed.

KPI - % share of total products

Total global share

Retail Markets Status 2017 2018 2019
Europe 49% 51% 67%
Brazil 25% 40% 56%
China 58% 65% 61%
Mexico 21% 31% 36%
[1] More sustainable raw materials - The proportion of raw materials sourced under a third-party certification. This includes, but is not limited to, certified organic cotton (OCS or GOTS), cotton placed as orders 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.

Current reconciliation constraints do not allow for 100% BCCU crediting. Therefore, the 2019 Better Cotton share per placed orders sourced under BCI was 60%. Per BCCUs credited, it was 51%. In 2019, this methodology changed.

Note that until 2017 only cotton was declared as sustainable raw material; beginning in 2018, recycled polyester and more sustainable viscose have been included.

Sustainable Supply

ExceedingMeeting Not Progressing

  2017 2018 2019
2017 KPI – Number of mills audited 251 n/a n/a
2018 and 2019 KPI – % coverage of supplier expenditure[1] n/a 92% 93%
[1] 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 2017 2018 2019
Absolute carbon footprint
KPI – total metric tons (t) CO2
167,261 139,676 118,331
Absolute energy footprint
KPI – total megawatt hours
815,314 810,674 783,015
Energy efficiency
KPI – % variance in kWh/m2 Gross Leasable Area (GLA)
-19% -20% -23%
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory according to the
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol
5,436,246 5,485,876 5,146,998
Scope 1 GHG Emissions
KPI – metric tons (t) CO2e
19,759 19,175 19,567
Scope 2 GHG Emissions
KPI – metric tons (t) CO2e
147,502 120,501 98,764
Scope 3 GHG Emissions [2]
KPI – metric tons (t) CO2e
5,268,985 5,346,200 5,028,667
[1] This metric changed from TUSA to GLA in 2017. Previous years re-calculated using GLA methodology 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.

KPI - % change compared to 2016 baseline

Global change from baseline

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.
  2017 2018[3] 2019
KPI – 0 waste to landfill (hazardous[2]
and non-hazardous, measured in metric tons)
1,601 9,505 9,503
[1] By 2025.

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

[3] We have updated the 2018 reported number to correct an error in waste reported from the Brazil retail market, where the vast majority of waste to landfill is organic.

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

Total global share

Retail Markets Status 2017 2018 2019
Europe 65% 70% 43%
Brazil 68% 78% 82%
China 68% 69% 82%
Mexico 50% 64% 60%
[1] All factories were audited unannounced, which did not allow them any time to prepare. As a result, we found more infringements, both smaller and larger, than in previous years. As part of this, we detected more undisclosed production, which has a negative impact on a supplier's rating. Additionally, we had significant changes in the overall factory portfolio, as we onboarded an exceptionally high number of new facilities during 2019, and these did not receive A/B ratings in the initial audit, which affects the overall A/B rating results for the year.
  2017 2018 2019
KPI – Number of key factories included
in the Supplier Ownership Programme.1
24 25 37
[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. Over the last 4 years, 37 production units have participated in the SOP programme and 22 are already certified.

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 2017 2018 2019
Europe 85% 85% n/a
Brazil 87% 91% n/a
China 87% 90% 88%
Mexico 92% 90% n/a
[1] Our Europe and Mexico retail markets and Brazil licensee conducted employee surveys from 2016 to 2018. The China retail market conducted surveys from 2017 to 2019, with the 2019 survey having a limited scope. Given that the scope of the survey has changed over the years in the retail markets and licensees, we are evaluating the applicability of this KPI going forward.

[2] In 2017 and 2018, Europe did not include the sustainability-related question in their survey, so we report the total score for those years.
  2017 2018 2019
KPI – not yet established Signed WEP Region-specific
implementation plans
on gender parity and
developed for our
retail markets
Retail markets began
implementing their
region-specific plans
on gender parity and
[1] These include training programmes for managers and supervisors on equality, diversity, unconscious bias, maternity/paternity/adoption leave, and others; various non-discrimination policies which are part of the forthcoming Code of Ethics; and analysis of employee gender by recruitment, level, function, and promotion.

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







Retail region/year

Country [2]
2017 2018 2019
Germany 11% 10% 12%
Netherlands 14% 14% 12%
France 4% 4% 3%
Brazil 15% 16% 17%
China 2% 1% 3%
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.