C&A saves energy
Energy consumption is the one area with the greatest economic and ecological potential for making savings. Apart from logistics, this concerns our stores and head offices in particular. Of the electrical energy that we consume, roughly 50% is used for lighting and about 35% for ventilating and cooling our buildings. These are the most significant demand factors that we address in order to maximise potential savings and efficiency improvements. Despite increased requirements for lighting and cooling, our approach has enabled us to succeed in avoiding rises in consumption.
When choosing decorative and advertising materials C&A pays heed to their environmental compatibility in addition to the cost-benefit factor. This begins with ordering. Each branch has to enter its specific advertising material requirements in an online database, thus preventing overproduction from happening in the first place.
Decorative material that is intended for longer-term use is mostly made of plastic at C&A, among other reasons because it has better flame-retarding properties than paper. At C&A we mainly use paper for short-term campaigns, floor displays or countertop displays in the sales areas. For the most part, these advertising materials are printed with solvent-free inks using a screen-printing process and returned to our recycling partners once the campaign has ended.
Since 2008, all C&A brochures and the C&A report have always been printed on paper that conforms to the guidelines of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC certificate provides assurance that the raw materials come from sustainable forests.
Light is not just light. Much rather, the lighting of our stores has to be viewed as part of the entire energy supply for a building. Since 2008, C&A has been converting its branches to a more energy-efficient lighting system. This system not only creates electricity savings of around 8% but also gives off less heat into the environment. Those areas of the building therefore require less cooling, which in turn saves even more energy. C&A is currently testing LED technology for other possible areas of use.
In the IT sector, too, C&A is always on the lookout for possible energy-saving potential. The introduction of a new point-of-sale system means that whereas the former system required two servers, now just one server is sufficient. This has yielded annual savings of around 675,000 kilowatt hours. The replacement of several thousand old point-of-sale terminals with more modern models likewise provides further savings in electricity consumption. All in all, the new terminals use about 440,000 kilowatt hours less electricity per year than the previous equipment. Alongside computing power, power consumption and heat output have been crucial criteria in the procurement of new computers for a number of years now, because in large data-processing centres in particular large amounts of energy are needed to cool the servers.
No fashion company can do without clothes hangers. They are indispensable for transporting and displaying merchandise. This is why C&A hangers are collected, damaged ones sorted out, and undamaged ones reused many times. If specifically requested, however, we also give them to our customers free of charge. In 2009 a total of about 231 million clothes hangers were collected in Europe, of which it was possible to re-use 133 million. This is equivalent to a saving of 3,325 tonnes of plastic, 1,330 tonnes of metal and around 2.74 million kWh of electricity.
The manufacture of carrier bags consumes raw materials and energy. To save raw materials, since March 2008 we have been using standard shopping bags that consist of at least 80% recycled film. The effect of this was to avoid the production of 2,700 tonnes of new plastic film in 2009. However, shopping bags made of organic cotton are even more environmentally friendly. The proceeds from the sale of these bags go to farming projects in India. As a result of this campaign, more than 626,000 organic cotton bags were sold by the end of 2009, and more than 167,000 euros donated.
Environmental tips for our customers
C&A is trying to raise customers' awareness of the need to save energy. Sewn-in labels, for example, showing washing instructions often also include an environmental tip to wash the item at lower temperatures. Even reducing the washing temperature from 40 to 30° C can save as much as 40 per cent of domestically used electricity. If customers also choose not to use a tumble dryer – as also indicated on the labels – their electricity consumption falls even further.