We continue to develop our partnership with clothing recycling partner I:CO to increase the reuse and recycling of garments that have been rejected. This year we have sent them 30,000 kilogrammes with 80% of that de-branded for second hand markets outside the UK and the remainder recycled into fibres and reused. Other clothing that is rejected by us due to quality concerns or returned to stores by customers due to a fault is otherwise returned to the supplier, sold on to ‘jobbers’ or given to charity (see Our Communities).
We have started to extend our advice to customers to wash clothes at lower temperatures to the garments sourced by BHS. This year 60% of BHS childrenswear will carry this advice, which can save up to 40% of the energy used to heat water. BHS lingerie will feature the wording ‘consider the environment, do not tumble dry’ while womenswear garments will promote washing at lower temperatures, ‘be green when you dry clean’ and avoiding tumble drying.
Promoting washing at lower temperatures continues to be a good opportunity to influence our customers’ wash care habits. This year 81% of our garments carry this advice. Dry clean only accounts for 9% of garments. Selected products continue to promote the ‘Green Earth’ option, rather than the traditional ‘perc’ (perchloroethylene) process.
Strict packaging standards for suppliers already save the business approximately 500 tonnes of excess packaging a year. Extending this into BHS has not progressed as fast as we would have liked this year. Despite this we have identified initial areas of opportunity. These include increasing the product areas we receive from suppliers as hanging goods rather than folded, thus reducing the need for tissue paper. We are also reviewing how we receive footwear, especially in childrenswear.
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. Three of the Sustain pilot projects are now into their second year, demonstrating a commitment to longevity and consistency that will drive longer-term benefits.
TOPSHOP Reclaim to Wear, the outcome of a partnership with the founders of up-cycling brand From Somewhere, was launched successfully for summer 2012 with an eightpiece collection made from fabrics that would otherwise have been considered pre-production waste. Both public and media response to the sell-out range was astounding, creating a buzz that has given the team the confidence to expand the range for spring/summer 2013. Not only that, but the range will be extended beyond its online-only market and will be sold in-store for the first time.
The challenge in this approach continues to be the reversal of the traditional design process, where garments are created to use the available ‘waste’ fabrics rather than designing a piece and then sourcing the fabric accordingly.
Homegrown – our ‘Made in UK’ pilot – has also seen success this year. Across product ranges, we have grown our UK-sourced offer by 60%. All garments now carry a swing ticket to proudly proclaim their UK provenance. Our collaboration with Izzy Lane will continue next year with another coat range. Izzy farms rare breeds of sheep that she rescues from slaughterhouses, using their wool to create luxurious and locally produced woollen cloths and fabrics. TOPSHOP plan another range for autumn/winter 2013 following the success of the first.
Hand-knitted pieces have been a major trend for the in-house designed TOPSHOP Unique label during 2012 and its collections have included designs brought to life through the work of a co-operative of hand knitters from across Scotland.
Both these initiatives have continued to attract positive reaction from customers and the public in general and we remain committed to developing them further.
Denim Production – in last year’s report we referred to a new project looking at how we could champion new technologies and processes to reduce the environmental impact of denim production. We are hopeful that the involvement of a third party organisation with the aim of creating a baseline study will help us to make progress in this area next year.
Images courtesy of SOEX