Certification and Markets: An Newsletter (April 2013)

Apr 2013

H&M Promotes its Suppliers: The Swedish retail chain H&M is now one of the top three global retailers of clothes and fashion.  It is also striving to be the leader in sustainability focusing on ethics, climate change, use of organic materials and waste management among other issues.  As it has no factories of its own, supply chain management is paramount.  It has now taken the step of other leading fashion and apparel brands such as Levis and Nike and is releasing a list of its suppliers, a list of several hundred companies accounting for 95% of its order volume.  It is likely that a supplier on this public list will be able to utilize this “qualification” in demonstration of its own sustainability efforts.

 Cambodia Promotes Ethical Supply Chain Credentials: Playing catch up in economic development in the 1990s and early 2000s, Cambodia is now attempting to build its textile sector partially on marketing its ethical and worker welfare credentials.  As the global brands seek destinations of lower cost than China, Cambodia’s market share is rising.  The trade association in the country GMAC is working with the ILO on an initiative called Better Factories Cambodiaattempting to raise the quality of worker management in the country.  An in country account of supplier management by Levis in Cambodia can be found here.  Further attention to worker welfare in Cambodia was noted early this year after workers at an alleged Walmart supplier went on strike over pay and other issues.  The dispute was reportedly settled in March this year.  

Another Sustainable Clothing Group Formed for Home Textiles: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition  was formed in 2011 by a group of apparel and footwear industry players (such as Walmart, Adidas, Patagonia) to improve sustainability performance in the industry, specifically by improving supplier assessment tools.  In February this year another similar sounding group, this time the Sustainable Textiles Coalition  emerged, led by Walmart rivals Target  and Williams Sonoma and with the stated mission.   “Our mission is to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on a common approach for measuring and evaluating textile product sustainability performance that will spotlight priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation.  To deliver on that mission we are developing an index to assess environmental and social performance across the textiles value chain.”   The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s remit is similar while it is several years ahead with its Higg’s Index: “The Higg Index 1.0 is primarily an indicator based tool for apparel that enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and product design choices.”  While Target is a member of both groups, Williams Sonoma is not and the new coalition explains the relationship between the two groups: “The Sustainable Textiles Coalition will leverage the work of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, creator the Higg Index which currently focuses on apparel and footwear products.  The Sustainable Textiles Coalition will build on this work to create and use an index tailored to home textile products.”

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