DUBLIN – Fast fashion giant Primark has launched a new sustainability strategy via which it says it will halve carbon emissions across its value chain by 2030. As part of the new strategy, the business also says it will only use, “recycled or more sustainably sourced materials,” and design clothes so they “can be recycled and strengthen their durability, so they last longer.” Primark says it will also pursue living wages for workers in its supply chains, although the company is vague on details of how this might be achieved.
Primark said its new commitments will see it ensure all its clothing is made from recycled or “more sustainably sourced materials” by 2030. At present this accounts for 25 per cent of all clothes sold. As a next step, all of Primark’s men’s, women’s and kids’ entry price point t-shirts will transition to being made with “sustainably sourced cotton” over the next year.
The timing of this new strategy is interesting given heightened discussions around greenwashing. What does ‘sustainably sourced cotton’ entail? Does Primark have LCA data to prove its cotton is ‘sustainably sourced’? What are ‘more sustainably’ sourced materials? Are these not the kind of vague, unsubstantiated claims the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is supposed to be clamping down on?
Commenting on the global strategy launch, Primark CEO, Paul Marchant, said: “This is a new and exciting chapter in the Primark story. Our ambition is to offer customers the affordable prices they know and love us for, but with products that are made in a way that is better for the planet and the people who make them. We know that’s what our customers, and our colleagues, want and expect from us.
“This isn’t the start of our journey. We’ve been working to become a more sustainable and ethical business for over 10 years. One in four of all the clothes we sell already come from our Primark Cares range of products made from recycled or more sustainably sourced materials. Our new commitments mark a significant acceleration in the pace and scale of change, requiring us to think differently about how we do business. Right from how our clothes are designed and manufactured, through to how we sell them in stores.
“We don’t have all the answers and we know we can’t do it alone. We’re committed to work in partnership with the industry to drive real change at scale.”
The new strategy expands on commitments Primark has already made as a signatory to major industry initiatives. These include Textiles 2030, the WRAP initiative to accelerate the fashion and textile industry’s move towards circularity and system change in the UK. The business is also a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to inform its journey towards circularity, including making all its clothes recyclable by design.
Primark says it will also work with its suppliers to cut carbon emissions by half throughout its value chain.