Primark today unveiled a far-reaching sustainability strategy. This aims to reduce textile waste, cut CO2 emissions in half along the entire value chain and improve the lives of the people who manufacture Primark products.
With the new strategy, the international fashion retailer is committed to changing the way its clothing is made, but without changing its affordable prices, so that customers can shop more sustainably.
As part of the new commitments, the company will ensure that by 2030 all of its clothing will be made from recycled or more sustainable materials. These currently make up 25 percent of all clothing items sold. In a first step, all T-shirts for men, women and children in the lower price segment will be made from sustainably grown cotton within a year.
Primark will change its design process to ensure that garments can be recycled at the end of their life cycle, thus helping to reduce textile waste. This also includes working with the British aid organization WRAP to define new industry guidelines for the shelf life of products. The organization is committed to changing the fashion industry towards a circular economy.
Paul Marchant, CEO of Primark, commented on the implementation of the global strategy: “This is a new and exciting chapter in Primark’s history. Our aim is to give customers the affordable prices they know and love us for – but we do with products whose manufacture is not at the expense of our planet and its inhabitants.We know that this is exactly what our customers and colleagues want and expect from us.
This is not the beginning of a new journey. We have been working to become a more sustainable and ethical company for over ten years. Every fourth item of clothing we sell comes from our Primark Cares range, which is made from recycled or more sustainable materials. However, our new commitments mean a significant acceleration in the pace and scale of change in our company and require us to rethink our business. This starts with the design and manufacture of our clothing and ends with the sale in our stores.
We don’t have all the answers to all of the questions yet. But we are aware that we cannot manage change alone. We are therefore committed to working together within our industry to drive real change on a large scale. “
The new commitments, drawn up by industry experts, apply to both Primark’s own business and its global supply chain. The strategy extends the existing voluntary commitments that the company has already entered into as a signatory to important industry initiatives. This includes the WRAP initiative “Textiles 2030”, which aims to accelerate the transition of the fashion and textile industry to a circular economy and to bring about a change in the system. The company also works with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to make all of its clothing items recyclable.
Primark won’t just change the way its clothing is made. The company will also work with its suppliers to cut carbon emissions in the value chain by half, driving change at the industry level. Primark will also eliminate single-use plastic, building on 500 million items that have already been removed.
Primark will expand its Sustainable Cotton Program, which is already the largest of its kind in the fashion industry, and train farmers to use regenerative farming methods. These are based on sustainable methods such as the use of less water and chemicals. It does so as part of its partnership with CottonConnect, which applies the industry-leading REEL Regenerative Code to promote biodiversity, adapt to climate change and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
The company will build on its established ethical trade initiatives and expand its partnership with ACT to improve the lives of the people who make its clothing. For example, Primark will advocate living wages for workers in its supply chain and invest in programs that give women more opportunities.
Christiane Wiggers-Voellm, Managing Director of Primark Germany and Austria, said: “In Germany and Austria in particular, awareness and demand for sustainably produced fashion have increased significantly. We are of the opinion that sustainability should not come with an extra charge only a few people can afford it. Because we are Primark, we are convinced that we can make more sustainable fashion affordable for everyone. “
Primark will use its 397 stores in 14 countries to educate its customers about the changes the company is making through the “How Change Looks” campaign. Initiatives include educating consumers on ways to extend the life of their wardrobe, for example by teaching them how to sew and how to wash them.
The company will report annually on its progress in implementing the global Primark Cares strategy.