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TOKYO – Fast Retailing CEO, Tadashi Yanai, has used his company’s annual sustainability report to issue a rallying call to stakeholders. “At stake is the long-term of human life,” he said. “… we must repeatedly ask ourselves if we are doing the right things for society at large. The world is watching.” Fast Retailing owns Uniqlo, one of the world’s leading fast fashion brands.

Supporting his words, Yanai said that for the past 12 months, all 110,000 Fast Retailing employees worldwide, including retail store staff, have been taking an online course or other training sessions on sustainability, offered in eight languages. All staff are expected to have completed the course by August 2017.

Yanai suggests sustainability will now permeate throughout all parts of the business. “The cornerstone of our approach to sustainability is to make, distribute and sell only what is necessary,” he said. “To set clear and meaningful targets we must first understand all processes in our business operations. Only then can we effectively resolve issues together with our production and logistics partners. The key is to take action; words alone are empty. We must consider all facets of our daily business from the perspective of sustainability.

“Profitability has little meaning unless we do our part to put society firmly on a path of stable and sustainable development.”

The report also touches on the issue of recycling. Fast Retailing takes a rather different approach to this issue which we have yet to come across in a mainstream retailer. The company has clothing collection services like many brands. The report adds: “After sorting, about 20 per cent of the clothes collected from customers at stores are deemed unwearable. In Japan, these clothes are recycled into refuse paper and plastic fuel (RPF) pellets by cutting the clothes into fine pieces using a shredding machine, removing any metal pieces, mixing in paper and plastic, and then compressing the materials. This high-calorie solid fuel is used by large paper manufacturers as an alternative to fossil fuels such as coal.” Interesting!

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