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Beyond the Bale : Feb - Mar 08 Supplement
4 BEYOND THE BALE ECO-TRENDS SUPPLEMENT By Kellie Penfold Armed with the view that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is widely discussed in the textiles and fashion industry, but not well measured or benchmarked, CSR Asia and 3p (Profit People Planet) Consortium for Sustainable Management this year conducted the first global survey of textile manufacturing CSR activities. Most of the companies surveyed sourced their products from China and South-East Asia. The results showed that consumers were more concerned with environmental and ecological than social issues -- so much so that respondents indicated they planned to increase their commitment to environmental responsibilities over the next one to three years. The survey found that 80 per cent of clothing retailers were approached in the past 12 months with queries about the environmental and/or social performance of their products. Of those requests, 67 per cent came from consumers. Most companies believed up to 60 per cent of their customers were concerned with ecological issues relating to the products being purchased, while only 40 per cent were concerned with social conditions. There was a widespread expectation among retailers that suppliers would comply with environmental or social standards, with local laws CUSTOMERS SEEK CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY The socially and environmentally responsible consumer is a reality and industry is trying quickly to respond to their demands, a widespread sur vey of fashion and lifestyle companies in 10 countries has revealed TRENDS New industry association aims to do the RITE thing applying to the supply chain in the country of origin/production as a standard to which they expect suppliers to comply. As for implementing these standards, 86 per cent had taken steps to ensure supplier compliance, usually through third- party audits. If a supplier failed to meet standards, 75 per cent of respondents said they would provide support and guidelines for corrective actions and 52 per cent said they would terminate the business relationship if corrective action was not taken. While most participating companies (58 per cent) stated that they had 'ecologically optimised' products in their range, in most cases these products were less than 19 per cent of the product range. Only 14 per cent of companies sur veyed said that ecologically optimised products comprised more than 80 per cent of their range. A serious issue revealed by the sur vey is transparency, with most companies admitting compliance issues were not made public and recognising the need to adopt and communicate CSR activities. ú More information: www.3p-consortium.org stressed the need for greater information about the supply chain, with improved traceability. Another theme was producing 'eco' or cleaner fibres (as opposed to organic) with US delegates stating that 'cleaner cotton' was a strong alternative to organic cotton, which is a small part of production. Outdoor wear retailer Timberland has introduced a 'green index' system, which indicates the impact of each raw material used in the garment on the environment, while Patagonia is introducing a recycling project for all cotton and wool garments it sells, aiming for all products to be recyclable by 2010. More information: www.ritegroup.org Many retailers speaking at the conference stressed the need for greater information about the supply chain, with improved traceability. Following the success of fair-trade cotton, Marks & Spencer is extending this program to other fibres. A new UK industry association formed to reduce the impact of textiles on the environment is engaging stakeholders worldwide to help reach its goals. Reducing the Impact of Textiles on the Environment (RITE) was founded by UK retail giant Marks & Spencer, the University of Leeds and Ecotextile News. In late 2007, the first RITE Conference on Ecotextiles was held in London and attended by 400 delegates.The conference led to the establishment of a number of expert sector groups and AWI has nominated for a position within one of these groups. Head of corporate social responsibility for Marks & Spencer Mike Barry told the conference that surveys showed that consumers thought responsibility for reducing the impact on the environment should be shouldered by industry, with only 25 per cent regarding it as a consumer responsibility. Following the success of fair-trade cotton, the retailer is extending this program to other fibres. Marks & Spencer also considers that consumers are concerned about animal welfare. Many retailers speaking at the conference
Dec - Jan 08
Feb - Mar 08