Animal-based fibres Protecting animal welfare and the environment

C&A is committed to protecting animal welfare and the environment where animals are raised. To this end, we uphold the Five Freedoms for animal welfare and environmental standards when there is potential for significant impact.  

How we approach animal welfare

Our policy on animal welfare states that we will:

  • Expect our suppliers to abide by the internationally-accepted Five Freedoms for animal welfare.
  • Never use products for which animals have been slaughtered or harmed in any way for their skin, fur, or feathers. 
  • Strive to increase traceability from the farm to the final product.
  • Only use raw materials that come from animals used for meat production. 
  • Never accept materials from exotic, threatened, or endangered species, as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

Our approach is collaborative, working hand in hand with others who are tackling similar issues. We set, define, and implement industry level solutions with animal welfare organisations, fellow brands, retailers, our suppliers, and independent auditors. 

We also actively listen, welcoming challenges and criticism that can help us improve. Ensuring high standards of animal welfare means that the apparel industry must be accountable for the promises we make.

Read more about how we engage with our stakeholders

For the last 10 years, we have worked hard to eradicate animal welfare issues from our supply chain. We started banning fur in the 1990s and have been a Fur Free Retailer since 2013. To date, we have banned the following materials and practices:

  • Live-plucking and force-feeding geese and ducks for down and feather production
  • The use of angora, real fur, and mohair
  • The practice of mulesing merino sheep
  • Bovine-based leather from India, or leather with hair attached from China or India

Read our animal welfare policy here


How we approach environmental protection in animal agriculture

We recognise that animal welfare is not the only impact of animal-based fibre production. For several animal-based fibres, including wool and cashmere, we apply industry standards such as the Textile Exchange's Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). This standard focuses on improving environmental resilience and increasing regenerative agriculture through rangeland stewardship and best practices in land management at the herder level.

Our 2019 performance

Maintaining our Responsible Down Standard-certified supply chain

C&A continues to source 100% RDS-certified down for all of our collections that contain down or feathers.

During the year, we continued applying our findings from 2017, when we conducted additional due diligence visits to RDS-certified supply chains to determine where further improvements could be made. Our visit showed that, in the future, we should rely less on local legislation to define our minimum requirements, instead supporting RDS to make sure it sets minimum standards that can be applied in markets where legislation is not stringent. We should also strengthen the standard requirements over time to ensure continuous improvement in animal welfare practices and include training modules to drive awareness among suppliers. This work continued in 2019.

Read more about responsibly sourced down

Safeguarding animal welfare in cashmere production

For the last few years we have focused on cashmere with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), a non-profit international organisation working with the extended cashmere supply chain, from herders to retailers.

Currently, more than 25 international brands and retailers have joined SFA, united in a goal to implement the Sustainable Cashmere Standard to preserve and restore grasslands, ensure animal welfare, and secure livelihoods. The SFA provides an excellent forum to jointly identify actions that address three main objectives:

  • Environmental resilience in cashmere-producing regions
  • Improved long-term prospects for herding communities that rely on cashmere markets
  • Assurance of animal welfare within cashmere production

Ceasing the use of high-risk fibres

We believe animals can be treated with dignity and respect. In several cases, we have detected higher risk in some animal-based fibre categories, leading to our decision to cease their inclusion in our products. Currently, we have identified fur from the Angora rabbit and mohair from the Angora goat as fibres no longer used in C&A collections.

Where next?

We will continue our work with SFA to extend sustainable and humane practices throughout the entire cashmere supply chain.