Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Act on clear, regularly reviewed climate change targets
In 2019, C&A committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Our new GHG reduction target to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 is aligned 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. To meet these targets, we are addressing the major drivers of our climate impact. This includes using Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) data in unique ways unprecedented in the fashion industry. We are mapping supplier ‘carbon maturity’, which allows us to provide them with the right entry point into our carbon reduction programme and the correct level of technical support. We are also identifying potential carbon reduction opportunities.
FUTURE ACTIONS in C&A Europe will include:
- Our own operations: we will explore options such as energy monitoring systems, additional energy efficiency measures in our operations and stores, and increased renewable energy use.
- In our supply chain: we will continue to scale our carbon supply chain intervention programs, such as the innovative Carbon Leadership Project, which uses a methodology pioneered by C&A. The priority will be on analysing current performance, identifying possible reduction opportunities, creating a bespoke facility-level carbon target, and then providing technical support and training to support implementation.
Continue reading for more about how we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Understanding GHG emissions
The GHG Protocol categorizes emissions into three broad scopes:
- Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions
- Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat, or steam
- Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as outsourced activities, waste disposal, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity, and other sources
Towards 30% reduction
To achieve our ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, we will work with the C&A supply chain on a variety of measures, supporting supplier carbon assessments and development of carbon roadmaps, providing technical assistance, helping them identify carbon reduction opportunities, setting reduction targets, and more. Within our own operations, we are exploring options such as an energy monitoring system for C&A Europe, energy efficiency measures in our stores and distribution centres, and increased renewable energy use.
Over the past several years, we have been recognised as one of the few brands to have disclosed its entire GHG inventory for five years. Supported by consulting firm Aligned Incentives, the life cycle assessment (LCA) leader, we have focused for over two years on modelling and validating our SBTs through a combination of process LCA and hybrid modelling of the entire C&A value chain.
We have determined our GHG inventory for Scope 1, 2, and 3. To accomplish this, we use a hybrid LCA in accordance with the World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainable Development GHG Protocol for corporate accounting and reporting and value chains. Our model combines input-output and process LCA methods, enabling us to focus on the key hotspots in our value chain.
Using data creatively for targeted interventions
We continue focusing on better understanding the C&A supply chain's emissions to develop smart reduction strategies. Material processing, which is dominated by textile production, is the largest source of emissions in our supply chain, representing about 45% of total emissions. We are partnering with RESET Carbon and the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) in a Carbon Leadership Project to target the supply chain areas with the best opportunities for emissions reduction. C&A pioneered this methodology, which has since been adopted as a best practice in the Aii programme.
First, using Higg Index Faciity Environmental Module (FEM) data, we engage our suppliers by level of maturity in emissions management. Some suppliers are already efficient, while others have more progress to make, so C&A is working to develop individual carbon targets for each unit. Through online conferences, engineers worked with the most energy-efficient units to learn about their methods and build a repository of resources for less efficient sites. We then chose 20 production units, mostly big mills and laundries, to complete an energy assessment. This programme drives accountability at the factory level, but it affords a meaningful, data-driven path towards reducing emissions in our supply chain. It results in each facility:
- Creating a baseline, which C&A will monitor performance against
- Identifying specific interventions to lower the carbon footprint
- Setting a carbon target for 2030, alongside an interim target for 2028
- Developing an action plan detailing implementation projects, timelines, and responsibilities, which yields fine-grained information about what each supplier needs to reduce their emissions and enables C&A to provide technical support for energy efficiency measures.
Commitment to safe chemicals
Continually improve and secure safe chemicals throughout our supply chain
As a part of our commitment to creating a sustainable future, C&A leads the industry in efforts to renew and restore our planet. We want our customers to Wear the Change, and we believe that C&A — and the wider fashion industry — can be more responsible stewards of natural resources. This will be done by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using more sustainable chemicals, promoting efficient water use, finding creative ways to address waste, and protecting animal welfare. Through partnerships, innovative technology, and scientific data, we can identify areas for improvement and develop solutions to help regenerate our shared environment.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition Higg Index provides a centralised assessment standard used by C&A and other major brands to increase positive impact and reduce complexity in the supply chain. We have adopted the Higg 3.0 Facility Environment Module for use in our own supply chain as a comprehensive environmental assessment tool for chemicals, climate, and water.
FUTURE ACTIONS in C&A Europe will include:
- In the supply chain: among other activities, we are adopting a new version of the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List, using the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module to assess wet processing facilities’ on-site chemical performance, and publicly reporting on wastewater progress. We will continue to increase the expertise in our supply chain via C&A’s innovative capacity building program, as well as continuing the development of a hazard-based safer chemistry program, alongside several other leading brands and in coordination with the ZDHC.
- In our products: we are integrating environmental key performance indicators into the work of C&A product design teams to increase awareness and accountability at the product development stage.
Continue reading for more about how we are improving use of safe chemicals in our supply chain.
Holistic chemical management approach
Our vision of a supply chain with zero discharge of hazardous chemicals cannot be achieved alone. Only with industry efforts, including brands, NGOs, academics, chemical suppliers, and manufacturers, can we drive permanent change. That’s why C&A has focused on developing industry standards, tools, and methodologies, such as our contributions to the Higg 3.0 FEM, ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL), and ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines.
We have also created a Minimum Performance Standard as a tool to communicate our chemical management expectations to our supply chain. All facilities under the SCM programme receive a rating encouraging them to meet our expectations.
C&A’s holistic approach to chemical management includes input, process, and output management. The objective of input management is simple: for C&A suppliers to procure chemicals that meet ZDHC requirements. Process management is key to ensuring each of our supply chain partners has the necessary personnel, management systems, tools, and expertise to reach ZDHC requirements. For output management, we conduct regular wastewater testing at our suppliers’ production units against the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines to validate elimination of hazardous chemicals.
The starting point for safer chemistry is transparency. We use a Chemical Inventory Management System tool to increase transparency of the chemicals used in our supply chain, allowing us to determine which chemical products are being used, who is supplying them, and in what quantities. We have rolled out this tool to hundreds of production units across every key sourcing country in our global supply chain.
Once we have mapped our chemical supply chain, we have visibility to understand who the key chemical suppliers are, allowing us to then engage them on C&A and industry requirements on safer chemistry. The ultimate goal is to increase the availability of safer chemistry listed in the ZDHC Gateway—a platform for factories to identify which chemicals are conformant—and drive their adoption across the supply chain. C&A is also adopting the MRSL 2.0, a new version created by an independent council within ZDHC.
C&A uses the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) to assess our wet processing facilities on-site chemical performance. This determines whether the facility has the core requirements of an effective chemical management system, including policies, employee training, chemical procurement practices, inventory management, storage and handling, emergency response plan, traceability, innovation, and continuous improvement.
Ensuring our facilities have an effective chemical management system means they have the foundation required to implement the SCM Programme and ZDHC requirements. To provide added confidence in the process, C&A also conducts third-party verification of our supply chain’s FEM responses.
Safer chemicals and smarter processes lead to better outputs, wastewater, and products. As part of our holistic approach to chemicals, C&A continues to test the wastewater discharge of our wet processing facilities against the ZDHC wastewater guidelines and test our products against our Restricted Substances List (RSL). In the rare event a detection occurs, a plan is created with the production unit to replace the chemical with a safer alternative within the shortest possible timeline. C&A is committed to publicly reporting on our wastewater progress via our Environmental Performance Report and on the IPE Detox Disclosure Platform.
We recognise there is a knowledge gap in the supply chain. Most of the mills, laundries, and printers we work with have just a basic understanding of chemicals issues and lack the skills and information to make necessary changes. To meet this challenge, C&A continues to implement global trainings. This includes training factory workers on chemical and wastewater management, tackling issues such as how to manage chemicals and hazardous waste throughout the facility, properly handle and dispose of chemicals, conduct chemical risk assessments, create chemical policies and management systems, and address other important knowledge gaps. On-the-ground experts conduct frequent site visits to provide support and assess remediation progress and timelines as part of our corrective action plan (CAP) process. As a complement to factory-level training, C&A also hosts regular meetings to discuss common issues in the supply chain and develop solutions at a supplier top management and owner level.
Partnering for improvement
C&A engages with industry stakeholders such as IPE. As part of this engagement, C&A regularly screens our supply chain for environmental violations listed on the IPE website and works jointly to drive remediation across our supply chain in China. This screening extends beyond C&A’s direct suppliers to also cover upstream and downstream suppliers such as chemical formulators, waste disposal operators, and off-site effluent treatment plants. As part of these efforts, C&A has joined the IPE Blue EcoChain tool, which provides automatic notifications to C&A should an environmental violation be detected in the supply chain. In 2020, IPE rated C&A #1 among hundreds of companies in the Green Supply Chain CITI Evaluation, which measures companies’ environmental oversight.
Laudes Foundation continues to work with ZDHC to accelerate, further scale, and drive impact on eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals across global apparel and footwear supply chains.
Towards Zero Waste
Continually pursue zero waste to landfill or incineration of waste from C&A operations
The apparel industry creates signiﬁcant waste along its value chain. While a big part of this comes from clothes discarded at the end of life (see Circular Products for information about how C&A is addressing this challenge), waste is also generated in our own operations, such as in packaging, distribution, and unsold inventory. Our approach to reducing waste is grounded in the idea that we must help to shift our industry from a ‘take, make, use, and dispose’ model to one where every resource is used and repurposed, again and again, eliminating irresponsible disposal at the end of life. For our own operations in the retail markets where C&A operates, this includes responsibly using and reusing or recycling the polybags, tissue paper, boxes, and pallets our suppliers use to protect our products during shipment and storage. It also includes responsibly managing the packaging we use to deliver products to our online customers and addressing textile season leftovers. We aim to further improve data collection and transparency on all waste streams to strengthen disposal, recycling, and treatment processes in distribution centres, offices, and stores.
FUTURE ACTIONS in C&A Europe will include:
- Supply chain: we are working to better understand all relevant waste streams along the supply chain.
- Our own operations: we want to create full transparency on all waste data in our distribution centres, offices, and stores.
Continue reading for more about our pursuit or zero waste to landfill or incineration in C&A operations.
Our waste management approach
In addition to our in-store take back programme to reduce the amount of textile waste, and waste guidelines specifying how C&A and suppliers must handle the disposal of unused or returned textile and non-textile products which are not fit for sale, we are also focusing on waste in our own operations. One of our objectives is to create full transparency on waste data in our distribution centres, offices, and stores to measure improvements against baseline data. We hope to streamline our data collection and organisation methods to better understand what critical waste streams in our supply chain are likely to go to landfill. We are working to collect consistent and accurate data and make it publicly available. Once we have additional data, we can further strengthen our defined responsible disposal and treatment processes for the different waste streams in distribution centres, offices, and stores to continue avoiding irresponsible processing.
Reduce blue water consumption in manufacturing processes
By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may struggle to access sufficient clean water. The apparel industry uses a lot of water, from crop irrigation to wet processes in production, to customer use — as many as 2,700 litres for a simple cotton T-shirt [WWF]. This ‘blue water’ is sourced from lakes, rivers, and wetland aquifers. In a world of shrinking natural resources, we must work together to reduce this level of consumption. for our Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products.
FUTURE ACTIONS in C&A Europe will include:
- In our supply chain: we aim to expand the setting of contextualized targets to reduce water use in production units in high stress areas, identify possible reduction opportunities, and provide technical support and training to support implementation.
- In our products: we will begin integrating environmental key performance indicators into the work of product teams to increase awareness and accountability.
Continue reading for more about how we are reducing blue water consumption in manufacturing.
C&A has made great strides reducing our water footprint in raw materials over the past 5 years. To continue this progress, our 2030 water stewardship goal focuses on wet processing manufacturing in the supply chain. We are also striving to cut waste and water in our own operations, and providing in-store recycling solutions for customers to minimise the need to produce new garments. We also aim to lead the industry in pioneering new uses of existing data for setting contextualized water targets to reduce water use in manufacturing.
Blue water includes fresh surface or groundwater used to process and produce our goods, such as fabric dying and denim washing. During the development of our new goal, C&A decided to take the more holistic approach of measuring against water risk over water stress. Water stress—the ratio of water withdrawal to available water supply—is one metric by which to understand a country’s relationship with water, but doesn’t reflect the full picture in countries like Bangladesh, known for having water challenges, which is listed as Low in water stress but High in water risk.
By using water risk, we take a holistic approach to water stewardship, considering the quantitative factors affecting the health of a country’s water system, while also accounting for qualitative and regulatory factors, such as government efforts to improve drinking water and water sanitation.
Innovative use of Higg data
Just as we with our approach to carbon emissions, we are mining the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module data in unique ways to understand the degree of water maturity in our production units. This helped us identify which suppliers are using large volumes of water. We compared that information against the World Resources Institute water atlas, a heat map showing the level of water risk in an area. From there, we identified specific production units and are helping them find ways to reduce their blue water consumption. Now we are working with Carbon Reset water engineers to find unique solutions, such as replacing older laundry machines with more energy- and water-efficient models. C&A has worked hard to create lasting, transparent relationships with suppliers. This, along with the existing supplier infrastructure associated with our sustainable chemicals management programme, has allowed us to find cutting-edge methods for identifying ways to renew and restore our planet’s water supply.
Safeguarding animal welfare
Protect animal welfare throughout our supply chain
C&A is committed to protecting animal welfare and the environment where animals are raised. We uphold the Five Freedoms for animal welfare and environmental standards and ensure that we do not accept animal products that have been reared for their skins, or any endangered species. We have strict terms as well on where our leather is sourced and the husbandry and practices of the supplier. Our products will never include real fur, angora or mohair. Our safeguarding is there to ensure our customers can make an informed choice about the products they buy.
FUTURE ACTIONS in C&A Europe will include:
- Monitoring: C&A continually monitors that animal welfare principles are being respected at every level of the supply chain and seeks to increase traceability to the farm.
- Collaboration: we also set, deﬁne, and implement industry-wide solutions along with animal welfare organisations, fellow brands, retailers, our suppliers, and independent auditors.
- Products: all core animal-based fibers will continue to be sourced in keeping with the C&A animal welfare policy.
Continue reading for more about how we protect animal welfare in our supply chain.
Our approach is collaborative, as we set, deﬁne, and implement industry level solutions with animal welfare organisations, fellow brands, retailers, our suppliers, and independent auditors. The C&A policy on animal welfare states that we expect our suppliers to abide by the Five Freedoms for animal welfare; never use products for which animals have been slaughtered or harmed in any way for their skin, fur, or feathers; strive to increase traceability from the farm to the ﬁnal product; only use raw materials that come from animals used for meat production; never accept materials from exotic, threatened, or endangered species, as deﬁned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species.
For more than a decade, we have worked hard to eradicate animal welfare issues from our supply chain. We started banning fur in the 1990s and have been a Fur Free Retailer since 2013. We have also identiﬁed fur from the Angora rabbit and mohair from the Angora goat as ﬁbres no longer used in C&A collections, and have banned a number of other materials and practices, as outlined in our animal welfare policy.
We are members of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), united in a goal to implement the SFA Cashmere Standard, which helps to preserve and restore grasslands, ensure animal welfare, and secure herder livelihoods. The farms C&A sources cashmere from are certified according to the SFA’s certification guidelines, which ensure strict animal welfare requirements are being met and that the fibre can be traced through the entire supply chain to the end consumer. In addition to our work with the SFA, we have also begun using some recycled cashmere as well as recycled wool.
Environmental protection in animal agriculture
We recognise that animal welfare is not the only impact of animal-based ﬁbre production. For several animal based ﬁbres, including wool and cashmere, we apply industry standards such as the Textile Exchange's Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) and the Sustainable Fibre Alliance's Standard System. In both cases, the standards focus on environmental resilience and regenerative agriculture through rangeland stewardship and best practices in land management at the herder level.
We recognise that animal welfare is not the only impact of animal-based ﬁbre production. For several animal-based ﬁbres, including wool and cashmere, we apply industry standards such as the Textile Exchange's Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) and the SFA Cashmere Standard. In both cases, the standards focus on environmental resilience and regenerative agriculture through rangeland stewardship and best practices in land management at the herder level.
Responsibly sourced down
Down and feathers make up a small percentage of the ﬁbre used in C&A collections. However, feather and down harvesting can result in unnecessary harm if not done with care and respect for geese and ducks. Each year, 100% of C&A's down and feathers is certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to ensure humane treatment of geese and ducks. RDS certification provides traceability through transaction certiﬁcates which identify the material from source to ﬁnal product, and the process is audited at every stage of the supply chain, so our customers can feel conﬁdent the material in their clothing was made to the standard’s requirements. We also engage with Textile Exchange to continue improving the standard.