2019 marked an important milestone for C&A. While we have been focused on reducing our impact on climate change for many years through sustainable sourcing and factory engagement, our science-based targets for climate change have now been approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.
Along with our strong focus on water, chemicals, and waste, we have also been working hard on modelling and validating our science-based targets through a combination of process life cycle assessment (LCA) and hybrid modelling of the entire C&A value chain. Our GHG reduction targets are now science-based and are in alignment with the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
We therefore will:
As we progress on this journey, we will take a look at science-based approaches for other areas, such as water and biodiversity, to ensure our approach supports the balance of the Earth's ecosystems.
Launched a hazard-based chemical assessment project across key fabric mills and laundries, and conducted a project to understand the provenance of chemicals.
Continued to implement the Sustainable Chemicals Management (SCM) Programme at all key tier-1, tier-2, and tier-3 suppliers, creating tangible progress towards our ZDHC commitment.
Improved our hybrid LCA methodology to better understand our carbon and water footprints and the impact of our actions in these areas.
Developed science-based climate targets, which were approved.
We believe that our focus areas should be based on scientifically sound data and analysis. In 2019 we completed our fifth C&A-specific, cradle-to-grave hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) to better understand our carbon and water footprints and our impacts on climate change and water risk. We’re also working hard to build and test robust assessment tools for chemicals and environmental management that drive consistent change toward zero discharge of hazardous chemicals and reduced environmental impacts across the industry. Finally, we continue to strengthen our efforts by setting new global goals to reduce water use in the production of raw materials, striving to cut waste and water use in our own operations, and providing in-store recycling solutions for our customers.
Material processing, which is dominated by textile production, is the largest source of emissions in our supply chain, representing about 45% of total emissions. During 2019, supply chain emissions were reduced by 4.3% over 2018. We reduced our global emissions intensity by 29% since our 2012 baseline, achieving and surpassing our goal of a 20% reduction in C&A stores, distribution centres, and offices.
The hybrid LCA assessed our water footprint across our value chain, demonstrating that the largest water consumption phase is the production of raw materials (64%), followed by intermediate textile goods (29%). Together, they make up 93% of our total combined blue, grey, and green water footprint. In 2019, our sourcing of organic and Better Cotton, as well as sustainable cellulosic fibres, significantly reduced our water footprint, with blue water reduced by 54%, green water by 35%, and grey water by 43% in one year.
Our 2019 water footprint decreased by 2.9% compared to 2018. This includes a 2.5% decrease in blue water consumption, a 5% decrease in green water consumption, and a 2.6% decrease in grey water consumption.
To make further reductions, in 2017 we committed to new global 2025 goals to reduce water in the production of our raw materials by 30% (compared to 2016), and to further reduce the water we use in stores, distribution centres, and offices by 10% (compared to 2012). In 2019, we made significant achievements. For instance, we reduced the volume of water used in our supply chain by 5.3 percentage points over 2018, through more sustainable agriculture and apparel production in our supply chain. We also reduced our water use in stores, distribution centres, and offices by 33% over our 2012 baseline, greatly surpassing our goal of 10%.
Towards zero waste
In 2017, C&A committed to sending zero waste to landfill from C&A stores, distribution centres, and head offices by 2025. With products such as our Gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM collection developed in 2017 and expanded in 2018, as well as our Platinum level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM denim fabric in 2019, we’re closer to our goal of circular fashion. We recognise that zero waste is an ambitious and difficult aspiration. At the same time, we are committed to building the foundation for minimising waste production — and helping our customers do the same — so that we can eventually meet our goal However, the volume of waste sent to landfill in 2019 remained virtually unchanged from 2018, indicating that we have more work to do if we are to progress towards zero waste. We are evaluating our lack of progress in this area with a view to developing new goals and approaches.
Advancing Sustainable Chemicals Management
Our SCM programme began with 50 fabric mills in 2016, and grew to 350 production units globally in 2019. During the year, we advanced our focus from expanding coverage to driving positive impacts in input, process, and output management, with special emphasis in 2019 on input chemistry to identify and drive adoption of safer chemicals. In 2019, we revised our SCM Minimum Performance standard as we moved from our previous chemical audit approach to the industry-accepted Higg Index FEM.
Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Laudes Foundation, World Resources Institute, Aligned Incentives, IPE, Greenpeace, China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), Fashion for Good, Solidaridad, Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, Dutch Covenant for Sustainable Apparel and Textile