We made a commitment last year to review the environmental impacts of our key suppliers’ factories. This project has involved an assessment of the environmental processes for several key suppliers and action taken in response to the findings.
Some of the progressive environmental initiatives in place at our factories include rainwater harvesting for dyeing processes, dryers equipped with heat recovery units for energy efficiency and energy-efficient lighting.
Work will continue to advance our suppliers’ environmental credentials as part of a new initiative we have joined this year. We are one of the early signatories to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) 2020 commitment, which aims to improve the UK clothing industry’s environmental footprint.
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING ACTION PLAN
SCAP’sambition is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle. It will bring together the clothing industry, government and other stakeholders to take action to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint, along with providing support, tools and guidance.
SCAP’s 2020 commitment will see us measure and reduce our overall carbon, water and waste footprints across all our brands. Using SCAP’s footprint calculator, we will measure and report the total impacts of the clothes we sell in the UK on an annual basis.
20 Signatories are committed to playing their part in reducing their UK carbon, water and waste footprints via a sevenpoint action plan:
- Use a common assessment tool to measure baseline position and track changes in footprint over time.
- Reduce the environmental footprint of clothing through fibre and fabric selection.
- Over the longer term, work with supply chain partners to reduce the environmental footprint of their processes.
- Extend the useful life of clothes and reduce the environmental impact of clothing in use through product design and services.
- Develop effective messaging to influence consumer behaviours, which will reduce the environmental footprint of clothing.
- Increase re-use and recycling to recover maximum value from used clothing.
- Develop actions that help keep clothes out of landfill.
We continue to extend our advice to customers to wash at lower temperatures. Washing clothing at lower temperatures can save up to 40% of the energy used to heat water. All our brands are working to influence our customers’ wash care habits. For example, last year, 90% of BHS womenswear garments featured the wording, ‘save energy, wash at 30 degrees’. Only 1% of BHS womenswear clothes are dry clean only and include the messaging ‘be green when you dry clean’. For Dorothy Perkins 94% of garments carry ‘wash at 30 degrees’ labelling and only 3.5% of garments are dry clean only. Wallis continues to promote the ‘Green Earth’ option for all dry clean only garments, rather than the traditional ‘perc’ (perchloroethylene) process.
Our packaging standards for suppliers have been in place for a number of years and they already save the business approximately 500 tonnes of excess packaging a year. This year we have not been able to roll this out to BHS as much as we would have liked and we will need to review the best way to achieve some quick wins.
This year we have extended a cardboard carton re-use process at three of our distribution centres. This involves re-using cartons from suppliers to send stock to our franchise partners overseas, instead of recycling them. We estimate this will save approximately 300,000 cartons per year.
Sustain is TOPSHOP’s initiative that aims to deliver sustainability into the brand’s ranges via a mix of local sourcing, reclamation and environmentally friendly processes.
Now into their third year, these projects continue to grow and provide valuable insight into the appetite for and challenges of creating products that reduce environmental impact and waste, support communities in need and raise awareness of sustainability.
Reclaim to Wear, our range of up-cycled clothing (created from fabric that would otherwise be treated as waste) continues to grow, both in terms of scale and worldwide availability.
Following on from last year’s introduction of the range in partnership with From Somewhere, summer 2013 saw the launch of a second collection as part of the unveiling of TOPSHOP’s new flagship store in Hong Kong. Similar launches followed in the brand’s global flagships, marking its extension beyond the online-only sales channel.
The second range offers an increased selection of styles and has also been produced in greater volumes, reflecting demand identified when last year’s collection sold out in a matter of days.
The range has been entirely produced in the UK and a great deal of the fabric used was garnered from previous TOPSHOP Unique collections.
Customer response has, once again, been hugely enthusiastic, encouraging us to further develop the range and tap into the growing profile of upcycling. Plans are 21 already in place for another full-scale collection for spring/summer 2014.
Our ‘Made in the UK’ project goes from strength to strength, reflecting a wider trend of sourcing some products closer to home.
We are developing significant UK sourcing for outerwear and jersey and in particular for our TOPSHOP Boutique range. This brings commercial benefits as it helps us to react to trends much faster and improve sustainability as we have greater insights into the product’s provenance.
We continue to work with Izzy Lane, with a new coat collection planned for autumn/winter 2013, made from the wool she produces on her farm in Yorkshire, from sheep rescued from slaughterhouses.
Images courtesy of SOEX