Our clothing is made from a wide variety of raw materials, including natural ﬁbres such as cotton, down, linen, and wool, as well as synthetic ﬁbres such as polyester, and man-made cellulosics like viscose. Ensuring they’re more sustainable means the materials are grown and manufactured in ways that use fewer natural resources, respect nature and people, and ensure the welfare of animals throughout the supply chain.
We want our customers to feel good about the clothes they buy at C&A. We started our journey with more sustainable cotton – our most-used material – and are using what we’ve learned to develop and implement best practices for other sustainably sourced materials. Our 2020 goal is for 67% of our raw materials to be more sustainable.
In 2019, we made good progress against that goal, achieving a total of 64%. The vast majority of this progress has been driven by our work in more sustainable cotton. While we are conﬁdent that we will achieve our 2020 goal, over the past several years we have identiﬁed the following challenges to eventually increase the share to 100%:
Cost-eﬀective source of recycled polyester: The price of recycled polyester is 10 to 20% higher than virgin polyester, depending on the volume purchased. We continue looking for cost-eﬀective ways to incorporate more recycled polyester into our clothing. This includes working with Fashion for Good and the chemical recycling start-ups from their programmes to help scale technologies to bring costs down, while increasing the availability of chemically recycled polyester.
Scalable recycling technologies for mixed ﬁbre fabrics. For instance, with cotton and polyester blends, no scalable or cost-eﬀective chemical recycling technologies are available. We work closely with Fashion for Good, which identifies promising start-ups whose technologies (in this space) can be scaled.
Animal welfare is a key issue for our customers and C&A as a business. The mistreatment of animals is still prevalent across the world and materials can be hard to trace back to the farm where the animals were born and raised. Animal-based materials appear in a number of our products, from the down in our jackets to the wool in our sweaters, and we work hard to ensure that these materials do not come from mistreated animals. We also oﬀer our customers the choice to select a synthetic substitute and always have an alternative in-store.
Continue progress towards our 2020 goal for 67% of our raw materials to be more sustainable.
Continue sourcing 100% RDS-certified down
Continue increasing the uptake of recycled fibres in Europe and China.
Participate in the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), an international organisation working towards a sustainable cashmere supply chain.
100% Responsible Down Standard-certified down
We have been sourcing 100% RDS-certiﬁed down since 2016. In 2019, we brought 479,000 products containing down to market, all certiﬁed to RDS.
Read more about down and feathers
Read more about man-made cellulosics
To meet our 2020 targets for raw materials, we have formed or joined partnerships with leading industry stakeholders seeking to implement change faster and more eﬀectively. We use tried and tested, independently audited initiatives to improve our performance. Once we have achieved those best practice standards, we seek to collaborate further, taking the industry with us along the way.
C&A has joined the Circular Polybag Pilot launched by Fashion for Good, a platform for sustainable innovation we have partnered with since 2017. This is the ﬁrst pilot of its kind in the fashion industry that focuses on scalable solutions to address the issue of plastics. The solution being evaluated in the pilot involves manufacturing a clear recycled polybag using a high percentage of polybag waste, including ink and adhesive contaminants. The pilot aims to validate and further implement this new supply of waste for recycled content polybag production, returning the recycled bags back into circulation within the supply chain.
Although polybags are of course not used in our clothing, they are common in the fashion industry, where they are used to store, transport, and protect garments, footwear, and accessories. Our engagement on this project is one of several routes C&A is exploring to reduce the use of virgin plastics industry wide, including in our supply chain and our stores.
Read more about this innovative Fashion for Good project