SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING ACTION PLAN
SCAP’s ambition is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle. It brings 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.
Signatories are committed to a seven-point 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 our 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 our 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.
BETTER COTTON INITIATIVE
We have signed up as a ‘learning member’ of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) for one year. BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the industry’s future by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.
BCI’s traceability system helps retailers and brands buy Better Cotton, driving credibility around volumes while exerting minimal pressure on suppliers. The aim is to increase the flow of Better Cotton, tracing the fibre through the production process.
Our membership will enable us to engage with BCI and work with other members to share best practice, engage suppliers and, in time, start to source Better Cotton.
We continue to maintain our partnership with clothing recycling partner I:CO to reuse and recycle garments that have been rejected. This year we have sent over 4,000 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).
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 fourth year, these projects continue to grow and provide valuable insight into the growth, 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) reached a milestone this year. We produced our third and final collection in collaboration with up-cycling experts From Somewhere and put in place steps to ensure the legacy benefits of the partnership will endure.
Working with From Somewhere, we have created an online manual that will guide our product teams on the up-cycling philosophy in future. The document captures the learnings of the three collections produced to date along with practical guidelines on how to build up-cycled products into core ranges.
Towards the end of the year, we will unveil a new name for the project and details of the first TOPSHOP solo collection, which will focus on premium fabrics collected from a decade of collections produced under the Boutique and Unique banners.
Homegrown - 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 improves sustainability as we have greater insights into the product’s provenance.
In particular, we have had great success in sourcing jersey pieces in Leicestershire and wovens in London. We have added to our factory base and we have plans to grow this in 2014/15.
We have undertaken a significant training programme among our product teams this year to refresh awareness of the European Union’s (EU) REACH Regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of hazardous CHemicals).
REACH was introduced in 2007, as an umbrella regulation, bringing together previous national directives on the use of chemicals. It is essential that our teams have an understanding of the regulation and its impact on product development and sourcing decisions.
During the year all our buying team members have received training in this area, while more detailed sessions have been run for over 60 members of our technical teams, partnering them with external industry experts.
Meanwhile, our Restricted Substances list has been reviewed, updated and re-communicated to all suppliers.
Images courtesy of SOEX