Primark has joined the United Nations’ Fashion Charter (UNFCCC), supporting the Charter’s net-zero ambition for 2050 and committing to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
In joining the Charter, Primark is committing to tackling emissions from across its entire value chain, including beyond its own operations, or ‘Scope 3 emissions’, which make up the vast majority of its carbon footprint.
The retailer is committed to analysing and setting a decarbonisation pathway drawing on methodologies from the Science-Based Targets Initiative.
Katharine Stewart, Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Director at Primark commented on the announcement: “We are delighted to be joining the UNFCCC and are committing to cutting our emissions across our value chain.
“As a global fashion retailer, we are passionate about finding solutions to the challenges of climate change and recognise that there is always more to do.
“While we have big ambitions to make our business more sustainable, we also know that even our small changes can make a big difference, simply because of our size.
“And we want to do all this without passing the cost on to our customers, as we believe that sustainable fashion shouldn’t come with a big price tag.”
Primark has already implemented several processes across its manufacturing, distribution, and store operations to identify and reduce its carbon footprint.
To reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions Primark’s facilities management and store operations teams are constantly looking for practical measures to reduce the retailer’s energy use.
For example, the company established an Energy Reduction Group in 2015 to identify and implement energy saving initiatives in stores.
The company has also been tackling emissions generated by the use of raw fabrics and materials, which are its largest source of greenhouse gases.
Measures the company states to have taken so far include:
- Doubling the number of its products made using recycled materials to 40 million items this autumn.
- Training cotton farmers in more environmentally friendly practices since 2013 and significantly expanding the Primark Sustainable Cotton programme in 2019, committing to train 160,000 farmers by 2022 and pledging to increase the number of sustainable cotton products to 60 million items.
- Partnering with charities since 2010 to donate unsold products from its stores.
- Operating an in-store recycling scheme for customers in the UK so that they can donate their unwanted clothes, textiles, shoes and bags to be recycled, reused or repurposed. Primark plans to roll this scheme out in other markets.
- Supporting its suppliers’ factories to implement the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Facility Environmental Module tool to monitor the energy usage and carbon emissions in the factories where Primark’s products are made.
- Developing a packaging optimisation programme with PAC-D to train its suppliers’ factories to accurately measure products and efficiently package them into shipping cartons, eliminating empty space, which has so far saved 2.26 million square metres of corrugated material from being produced, shipped, and recycled.
- Shipping, rather than air freighting the vast majority of products from its suppliers’ factories. Once delivered to its warehouses the same trucks that deliver products to Primark’s stores also collect the waste and return it to the distribution centres, thereby reducing the number of trucks on the road and the volume of onsite waste collections at the stores.