Partnering for long term results
Partnership is crucial in achieving a more sustainable textile industry. In order to identify wise resource-use solutions and promote better working conditions, we and our colleagues in the industry have to work together.
Better working conditions in focus
A great deal needs to be improved at the socioeconomic level in the countries where we manufacture our garments. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is one of our causes where we have teamed up with other forces to achieve a safer working environment for millions of textile industry workers in Bangladesh. Since 2013, more than 1,500 factories have been inspected, and comprehensive improvements have since been made.
Another key partner for us is Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an alliance of companies, unions and interest organisations working to improve working conditions for factory workers. We have held membership since 2016, and ETI’s principles and goals are fully incorporated in our sustainability efforts.
”By being there on site and working for long-term improvements, we can help to drive changes that make a difference.”
Greater transparency with common tools
Our collaboration with Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is also contributing to a more sustainable fashion industry. SAC is an organisation whose vision is for the fashion industry to cause no harm to the environment and instead to have positive impact on people and communities. SAC has developed the Higg Index; a suite of tools for measuring and scoring the sustainability performance of textile factories and products, and thereby contributing to long-term sustainable improvements for factory workers, communities and the environment.
We hope and believe that SAC and the Higg Index will transform the fashion industry. As a member of SAC, Kappahl is rolling out their tools in our operations, which will result in a harmonisation of supplier requirements with those of our industry colleagues, an increased exchange of data and greater transparency, among other things.
One of SAC’s goals is for garments and footwear to eventually bear a label displaying the product’s environmental performance in simple terms. Essentially in the same way as the energy labelling on white goods. This will then allow customers to make informed choices and support fashion retailers who are committed to sustainability.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions through our initiative
The global temperature is rising fast – far too fast – and climate change requires us all to take immediate action. Meanwhile, the textile industry is struggling with the fact that we are responsible for between 2-8 per cent (results from studies vary) of greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of those emissions stem from fossil-based energy within manufacturing.
This is not a problem that can be overcome by any one single player in the textile industry. Collaboration is the key to achieving the crucial and industry-wide transition to renewable energy sources.
Consequently, in 2018 we joined forces with Peak Performance, H&M, Elco and Sustainable Fashion Academy to launch Stica, Swedish Textile Initiative for Climate Action. Any Swedish textile and fashion organisation can join Stica, on condition that it commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and the 1.5°C target. Stica is committed to serving as an action learning network, where members are allied in sharing knowledge and implementing solutions for achieving sustainable change.
Education conserves water
In 2010, we co-founded Sweden Textile Water Initiative, STWI. Through STWI, we educate and support our manufacturers in reducing their use of water, energy and chemicals. We initiated the project jointly with two other fashion brands, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Stockholm International Water Institute. STWI now comprises around ten Swedish textile companies.
Sweden Textile Water Initiative operates in China, India, Bangladesh, and Turkey, and has been instrumental in enabling the participating manufacturers to reduce their annual water consumption by 11.5 per cent. This is a saving of more than 520 million litres of water and corresponds to the daily water requirement of more than 3.5 million people.
Through this project, we are educating and supporting manufacturers in adopting simple and cost-efficient methods that benefit the environment and offer rapid return on investment. We tailor our efforts to the manufacturers’ prior knowledge and capabilities. Simple measures, such as repairing leaky pipes may be a first step. Next, we typically start up a bigger project, such as to recover steam or replace energy-intensive diesel generators. The last stage is more comprehensive, and involves educating and coaching manufacturers to think long-term and invest in new technologies that conserve considerable volumes of water and energy.
Our targeted efforts also have knock-on effects: factory managers and workers learn more about sustainable methods and go on to implement many of the solutions in their own homes and at community level.