1. A Critical Evaluation of Environmental and
Social Sustainability in Arcadia Group
‘Fashion Footprint’ Programme
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MSc
Environment and Sustainable Development
Word count: 10,105
Shantanu Prasad Baruva
Development Planning Unit
University College London
Table of Content
Literature Review 7
Case of the Sustainable Clothing
Case of Arcadia Group: Fashion
I would like to thank my supervisor Liza Griffin for her guidance and support
throughout the dissertation process. I would like to acknowledgement London
Collage of Fashion to let me use their library and Development Planning Unit for
their help. I would to specially like to thank Nanadini Baruva, Padminee
Chaliha, Thomas Skeen and Martina Heuser for their support and
According to the Guardian, ‘Fast Fashion’ is defined as a “contemporary term used by
fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly in order to capture
current fashion trends. Trends are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply to
allow the mainstream consumer to take advantage of current clothing styles at a lower
price”. The main idea behind fast fashion is quicker production in a cost-efficient
manner. Marketing is key within the fast fashion industry. It has been argued by some
scholers that the success of fast fashion has outputs at different stages of production
and supply chain. Due to the fast moving nature of the industry, there is increased
pressure at different levels of the supply chain to deliver high quantities of products
within a stricter time frame. The impact of this pressure is highlighted in the Rana
Plaza tragedy. The clothing industry is extremely important for the economic
development of many countries of the Global South. Due to loopholes in regulation,
there have been many incidents such as industrial disaster, slave labour, child labour
and abuse, to name a few. Due to the extended reach of media and globalisation,
awareness of such incidents occurring in the Global South is reaching the consumers
of the North. Hence, consumers are becoming more aware about the product they are
using. Fashion firms are making extra effort to work with the countries of Global
South in order to bring in changes which are socially sustainable, recognising the
value of the factory worker.
This thesis looks into the extent to which Arcadia Group contributes meaningfully
towards environmental and social sustainability with their programme of ‘fashion
footprint’. The thesis simultaneously looks into the government-led, industry-
supported Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, (SCAP), which is the main programme
in U.K. aimed at making the fashion sector more sustainable and most of the high
street fashion brands are its signatories. The question this thesis addresses is: to what
extent does corporate social responsibility (CSR) contribute meaningfully towards
environmental and social sustainability with reference to ‘fashion footprint’
programme and SCAP?
The thesis uses literature on sustainable development, CSR and greenwash, focussing
on Baker’s model of sustainable development, Dahlsrud’s dimensions of CSR, UL’s
seven sins of greenwash and Moon’s drivers of CSR. This is followed by a case study
of SCAP and the ‘fashion footprint’ programme of Arcadia Group in context of the
literature used, concluding with an alternate perspective on the achievement of
sustainability within the fashion industry.
In the UK, around two million tonnes of clothing are purchased per annum, with the
fast/discount fashion sector (characterised by low cost, short lifetime garments)
making up one-fifth of the UK market. We discard approximately one million tonnes
of unwanted clothing a year – 50% of which ends up in landfill. As 90% of the UK’s
clothing is imported, our activities have a significant overseas “footprint”, particularly
in India, China and other developing countries (Maxwell, 2010).
The garment industry in Bangladesh has grown unregulated during the last two
decades. Today around 4 million workers are involved within the garment industry
and it is the single most important export industry. There are around 5,000 factories
within the sector and in total the industry is valued at around 450 billion dollars. The
garment industry provides independence for women, as most of the employees in the
sector are women, constituting more than 80% of the workforce. However, owing to
the fact that they are at the bottom of the supply chain, they have to deal with long
working hours and low levels of pay (High St Fashion: Weaving New Threads, 2014).
An example for a garment plant disaster is the Rana Plaza tragedy that took place on
24 April 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh killing 1,138 people and injuring more than
2,500. The building had planning permission to build up to two floors, but in fact had
six floors constructed with foundations, which were not strong enough to support the
structure. As a result of the disaster the government shut down 18 garment plants
immediately (BBC, 2013).
As a result of the Rana Plaza disaster, more than 100 retailers and brands, including
Arcadia, Marks & Spencer, Next and Primark, have signed up to a legally binding
deal to help improve factory safety in Bangladesh known as the “Accord on Fire and
Building Safety in Bangladesh”. Those brands that are involved contribute £309,718 a
year towards inspections and training to improve safety. The group has the backing of
international union IndustriALL and is supported by workers' rights pressure groups
including the Clean Clothes Campaign. The group is also working with the
Bangladeshi government to support in funding any repairs required at unsafe factories
brought to light by the inspection and committed to providing whatever money is
required to get the job done (Butler, 2013).
‘Fashion’ can be differentiated from ‘clothing’, with the former being a personal
symbolic statement whereas latter denotes everyday basic garments. In the UK, on
average a party top is only worn 1.7 times. A high street retailer claimed
anonymously that during the recession, their profit increased by 30 percent. During
the same time, the conditions of the workers in the factories worsened: many workers
experience abuse such as being beaten, sexually harassed, shouted out, and bullied.
The fashion industry is highly consumeristic in nature. The consumer attitude and
behaviour plays an important role in order for brands to innovative and create new
products (Busch, 2012).
The supply chain within the fashion industry is buyer driven. Retailers constantly
change what they sell in their shops to make consumers return to the shop again and
again. If deadlines are not met due to delays in the factories, the cost associated with
this is borne by the factories themselves. To improve the conditions in the factory, the
costs should be passed on to the consumers. According to Tau Investment
Management, if we wait for consumers to make change, then it is already too late
(BBC Radio 4, 2014).
In the UK, and particularly in London, there has been a rise of billboards, especially
those which are illumined or feature video displays. This is an important way to gain
attention and for retailers to spread their message, especially to working professionals.
Advertising within the fashion industry uses a top down approach, and the message is
often conveyed to consumers through the use of celebrity or language of passion and
addiction (Neuberg, 2012).
Sustainable fashion, also known as ‘Eco Chic’ is a combination of four factors:
economic, ecological, social and cultural; i.e. using a holistic approach, economic,
ecological, social and cultural factors can achieve sustainability at different stages of
the supply chain, ranging from high street consumers to labourers in the global south.
Are brands on Bond Street and 5th
Avenue helping to achieve sustainable livelihoods
within the producer communities of the global south, where there is institutional
corruption, grey labour law and improper implementation of regulations (Black,
The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) produces The Sustainable
Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), a government funded organisation, aiming to improve
sustainability within the clothing and fashion sector by bringing together government,
industry and the third sector. It involved major retailers, recyclers, brands, sector
bodies and charities and has four working groups: design, reuse and recycle,
influencing consumer behaviour and metrics. They have a SCAP 2020 target, aiming
to reduce the environmental footprint within the sector. Some of the retailers included
are Arcadia Group, ASOS, John Lewis, New Look, Next, Sainsbury's, Stella
McCartney, Ted Baker and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (London College of
Fashion) (SCAP, 2014).
Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR can be defined as “an attempt to achieve
commercial success in ways that honors ethical value and respect people,
communities and natural environment” (Bhattacharya and Sen 2004). Most studies of
CSR look into consumer satisfaction and is an important part of an organisation with
large budgets. CSR policies and communications are supposed to be the core of the
company’s ethical perception and social legitimacy. According to empirical research,
there is a negative impact on the company for any alleged irresponsible acts whereas
there is a positive impact if the company is reliable and responsible. CSR can be
classified into controlled and un-controlled. Controlled CSR is company-planned
communications, designed to create brand equity. Un-controlled CSR is through word
of mouth, NGOS, and mass media communications, on which the company has no
control. External sources of information, from the media, consumer groups and NGOs
about the CSR activities of a company, play a vital role in shaping the future CSR
activities of a company (Parguel et al 2014).
Today for business, social, political and environmental factors are the drivers of CSR
actions around the world. According to some authors, firms are undertaking much
more responsibility to do social good, more than simply what is required by the law.
Environmentally responsible business practices are increasing due to the firms want to
do good, which benefits the society. According to research on environmental
management practices by companies, companies are increasing the amount of
activities in order to decrease their impact to the environment while adapting steps for
efficient environmental management. Among the environmental, social and economic
pillars of CSR, natural environment is increasing its momentum and its importance.
Organisations are using paradigm to maintain a relationship with the natural and
social environment around them (Shrivastava, 1995). Voluntary acts, such as
reduction of waste and emissions from operations, involvement in voluntary
environmental restoration, eco-design practices, and the extent to which an
organisation conserves natural resources shows the environmental concerns of the
company by addressing environmental responsibilities. Regulation and social
responsibility for the environment is governed by legal and social requirements for
corporate environmental management addressing the environmental impact. The
literature suggests organisations develop environmental strategy through a complex
web of the requirements of customers, shareholders, investors or employees, turning
environmentalism from an external factor of market to a core objective of the firm.
More recently market attitudes also drive the environmental interest in CSR. It is
reported that environmental performance development leads to improved financial
performance of the firm, for the stakeholder, environment has become the most
important of concerns for a company’s CSR strategies (Babiak and Trendafilova,
It is uncertain in both the corporate and academic worlds as to how CSR should be
defined. According to Van Marrewijk (2003) it is often based on the companies’
specific interest, which in turn does not allow the concept to develop and implement
itself. In other words the companies are biased in nature. But in having said so there is
no evidence to support the same as there is no such methodology that has been coined
to verify the biasness. The question that arises now is how to understand CSR by the
way it is defined. The social, environmental and economic dimensions are merely
different categories of impacts from business. In all the definitions, CSR is described
as phenomenon rather than the social responsibilities of business (Marrewijk, 2003).
In definition, firstly, CSR has often been linked with different fundamental strategic
purposes like legitimacy, responsibility for externality, and competitive advantage.
Then again there is a variation according to its substantive content. Thirdly, there may
be variation in the approach method employed to identify responsibilities and assess
the practices, especially the policies that are stakeholder oriented or around which
moral ethics or values have been developed (Clarkson, 1995).
Both CSR and sustainable development are considered as valued and not just simply
experimental concepts. It is considered a good quality of an organisation or an activity
to be socially responsible or for manifesting sustainable development. Having said
that, there is a high possibility that organisations or activities be described in terms of
trying to build their image. Since each stakeholder brings with it different principles
and opportunities, which in turn gives rise to many different values and expectations
in relation to the corporation they are connected with, there is a sense of pressure felt
in CSR in trying to balance different economic, legal, ethical and social
responsibilities. By definition, sustainability plans to address the effects of the usage
of ecological dependency and planetary wide social or local behaviours (Moon,
This process identified five dimensions, namely the environmental dimension based
on the natural environment, the social dimension based on the relation between
business and society, the economic dimension based on economic development, the
stakeholder dimension based on the interaction with their stakeholders and lastly
voluntariness dimension based on ethical values. Even though the environmental
dimension is considered a part of CSR, it has received a significantly lower dimension
ratio than the other dimensions. The question that arises now is how to understand
CSR by the way it is defined. The social, environmental and economic dimensions are
merely different categories of impacts from business. In all the definitions, CSR is
described as phenomenon rather than social responsibilities of business. It can be
concluded that among the many definitions of CSR that are available there is one
thing that is common and that is that they consistently refer to the five dimensions.
Although the definitions describe a phenomenon, they fail to present any guidelines as
to how to manage the challenges within this phenomenon. Therefore, the prime
challenge for business is not to define CSR, but to understand how CSR is socially
constructed and how to develop business strategies taking the social dimension into
account (Dahlsrud, 2008).
Application of both CSR and sustainable development has always been a part of
debate as to their meaning as these two are essentially contested concepts. There is an
argument as to what the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has to offer,
as it compels corporations to act responsible socially which in turn includes
contributions to the agenda of sustainable development. CSR has often been criticised
for its conventional argument that managers’ main responsibilities are towards the
shareholders and that governments bear the responsibility for social well-being. The
best way to understand CSR is by looking at it as a component of new systems of
societal governance. Through a theoretical model of business strategy based upon the
resource and through examples of business policies of a firm, the application of
sustainable development agenda can be indicated (Moon, 2007)
A number of CSR consultants, whose main aim, are not only to promote CSR but also
to bring a critical perspective and to elevate current CSR standards. The consultants,
along with many consumer groups and NGOs have divided the drivers of CSR to the
following (Chapple and Moon, 2005; Kolk, 2005; Moon, 2004).
Market is the main source of the CSR policies of a firm. The firm’s main
focus is to increase market share and increase the return on investment and
they determine the firm’s CSR activities.
Even though it is apparent that consumers, employees and investors are
noticeable social drivers, NGO pressure, media attention, general social
expectations and business associations and coalitions for CSR are also worth
Governments can give support to socially responsible business at the most
basic level, as it was illustrated by former Conservative Secretary of State for
the Environment, Michael Heseltine, who addressed the issues of
unemployment and urban decay in the early 1980s and encouraged the
business leaders to take up these issues. It is worth mentioning that the
government in the UK is a leader in having a Ministry for CSR and a minister
who formulate various policies and initiatives to persuade companies to be
more socially responsible.
Globalisation opportunities for business organisations develop new labor
markets, social principles, and protection of natural resources. But ironically,
globalisation also generates fresh imperatives for business legitimacy across
borders, which can drive the CSR activities of the business.
This has generated a number of new types of business behavior in order to manage
and report CSR. In order to enable themselves, individually, for better articulation and
implementation of CSR across various countries where they operate and have their
global supply chains, companies are developing many corporate codes. Jointly, the
companies are signing up to organisations such as the UN Global Compact and the
International Business Leaders Forum in order to advance the CSR system. Through
the Global Reporting Initiative some companies have gone as far as to agree to report
their international CSR. Research shows that companies that work across boundaries,
are those that pay more attention to their CSR, as opposed to companies who operate
only in one country, and are also concerned about the local CSR agenda (Chapple and
Sustainable Development as defined by the Brundtland Commission "development
that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs." The United Nations Millennium Declaration
identified principles and treaties on sustainable development, environmental
protection, social development, and economic development (Burton, 1987).
The term sustainable development can be interpreted to have a diverse range of
meanings. There are different approaches of policy imperative with the promotion of
the concept of sustainable development. The different approaches give an indication
of how different corporations, organizations, and individuals consider the
environment. These can be classified into the ladder of sustainable development
ranging from the ‘ideal model’, which is highly eco-centric to ‘pollution control’
being highly anthropocentric. (Baker, 2006)
Wahba (2008) explored the relationship between institutional investors and
environmental responsibility and found that environmental responsibility has a
significant positive effect on investors, when the financial performance was high. It is
suggested that if the top levels of management are committed to the environment, it
influences the whole organisation to develop different types of environmental
practices for the whole corporation. Most businesses are recognising and actively
paying attention to the strategic prospect of doing environmental good. Businesses
understand the negative impact they have caused on the environment, and addressing
the problem with advertising, legal resource and build relationship with key
stakeholders that can help them to save money. The environmental and social
challenge is multidimensional and so complex that businesses need to work with
NGOs and governments to reach a sustainable solution. Environmentally focused
CSR for many organisations is valued as driver which cannot be seen in traditional
financial terms. CSR can be seen as a source of innovation, opportunity and
competitive advantage rather than constraint, cost or charitable deed. The media plays
an important role in scrutinising the business. Businesses see using the doing good
environmental deeds as a method of creating positive public perception, especially
with consumers favouring ‘go green’ policies, hence promoting green initiatives,
building goodwill and potentially increasing their customer base (Babiak and
Companies, which employ a self-benefit CSR positioning, showed a result where the
consumers were more likely to buy their products. It was also found that the effect of
the CSR beneficiary positioning on purchase intention depended up on product type,
situation, and self-monitoring level. People pay more attention to information about
companies’ CSR efforts, especially when the management motivation impression is
high lightened. As a way to fulfil the companies social obligations and to enhance
their profit and sustainability and also because consumers have increased their
interests in CSR, companies are actively investing in CSR activities.
There are hints in some existing research that whenever there is a conflict or
difference of interest between consumers, who prefer to purchase high quality
product, and social, who prefer to purchase pro-social products, the consumer
hesitates to sacrifice their own interest for social interest (De Cremer and Van Dijk,
2002). So that the CSR information is considered as relevant to be used by consumers
in making their purchase decisions, more effort must be put forward to find ways that
will allow the consumers to make informed choices.
When a company lacks the capability or innovativeness to indulge or participate in
meaningful CSR activities, the satisfaction level of a consumer also decreases. When
the CSR domain of the company is related with the company’s existing products or
when the CSR domain is related with corporate capability, it has a positive effect on
the purchase decision of the consumer. The reason behind this is that the ethicality of
a company is positively or negatively associated with the gentleness and strength
related attributes of the product (Kim, et al., 2014). It is because of these two reasons
that the efforts of CSR have little effect on the decision making process of the
consumer. While the focus of pro-social consumers’ purchase is on altruistic goals
pursuing social or public interest, consumers’ purchase behavior inherently focuses on
selfish goals pursuing their own interests. Unless consumers are inherently altruistic
or have a high regard for ethical consumption, consumers generally purchase products
for their family, friends or for themselves (Collins et al., 2007). Based on an
accessibility-diagnostically framework, there are some researchers that suggest that
the association of CSR in purchase decision is not diagnostic in nature and does not
lead to purchasing, whereas a company’s capability association is diagnostic in nature
and thus leads to purchasing (Kim, et al, 2014).
Dahl, in his 2010 paper “Greenwashing: do you know what you’re buying” claims
companies are regularly promoting their image through ‘greenness’ marketing, where
they make overblown or unwarranted claims about environmental friendliness or
sustainability in order to increase their market share. This is not a new phenomenon,
but it is on the increase due to today’s consumers being more environmentally
conscious. This leads to confusion among the public, and critics regarding greenwash
as harmful. It is suggested that it is possible for a clean company to achieve green
marketing by incorporating with an environmental management system, with a
detailed environmental programme which is inline to ISO 14001. A company can also
take part in Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a widely used corporate reporting
There are various things that have greatly influenced the evolution of the fashion
apparel industry over the past decade, one being the expansion of the world across
boundaries. Fading of mass production, modified structural characteristics in the
supply chain, desire for low cost and flexibility in design, quality, delivery, and speed
to market are also some of the factors which have influenced the ever changing
dynamics of the fashion industry. There is an indication that a competitive edge can
be gained by the retailers in the market if they ensure speed by providing fashion
trends rapidly to the consumers, as a result of which the time gap between designing
and consumption on a seasonal basis will be reduced and in turn result in the adoption
of ‘quick fashion’. Fast fashion, similar to the concept of quick response, has been
defined as a business strategy that aims to shrink the processes involved in the buying
cycle and lead times for getting new fashion product into stores, in order to satisfy
consumer demand at its peak (Barnes and Lea-Greenwood 2006).
By actually creating the demand, fast-fashion retailers achieve higher turnover. This
strategy is achieved by creating many more products in smaller quantities by the
retailers, a strategy which is not applied by traditional retailers. A sense of urgency is
created in the minds of the customer when the product which is sold, is replaced, not
with more of what was originally sold out but by a ‘new’ style. The
internationalisation process or the process of increasing involvement of retailers in
international markets of fashion retailers is another important reason for the ever-
changing dynamics of the fashion industry. Studies have been conducted to analyse
whether it’s a ‘Born-global’ retailers (e.g. Zara) or a ‘Gradual global’ retailer (e.g.
GAP and H&M), the rate of movements for trends and product is extremely fast and
works with tight time frame (Bhardwaj et al., 2011).
Using the Model of Sustainable Development by Susan Baker, this thesis will try to
analyse the position of Arcadia Group and SCAP programme. The four modes can be
understood as the following
Model of sustainable development Type of development
Ideal model Right livelihood; meeting needs not
wants; biophysical limit to development
Strong sustainable development Change into patterns and levels of
consumption; shift from growth to non-
material aspect of development;
necessary development of third world
Weak sustainable development Decoupling; reuse, recycle, and repair of
consumer goods; product life-cycle
Pollution control Exponential, market-led growth
Source: Adapted from Baker, 2006
The definition of CSR is debatable as there is a degree of uncertainty in the definition,
which is used within the academic and corporate arenas. The definition can be biased
towards specific interest of the group, in accordance with what they are looking to
achieve. However, the use of term CSR by different organisations can be put into five
dimensions (Dahlsrud, 2008):
The Dimensions The definitions
The environmental Working for the betterment of the natural
The social Working for the betterment of the relation
ships between business and society
The economic Working towards socio-economic aspects
or financial gain, including describing
CSR in terms of a business operation
The stakeholder Working for a better relationship with the
stakeholders or stakeholder
The voluntariness Working on actions not prescribed by law
Source: Adapted from Dahlsrud, 2008
The dimensions from the above table will be used to understand the stand Arcadia
Group and SCAP programme have on their CSR activities.
According to Care2, the world’s largest online community for healthy and green
living, it is not possible within the fashion industry to be sustainable. Brands use
greenwash as a tool mixed within their CSR activities and communication material.
The ‘Seven Sins of Greenwashing’ published by UL, a global independent safety
science company, highlight seven ways how a business or firm conducts greenwash..
This will be used to analyse the Arcadia’s ‘fashion footprint’ programme.
The Seven Sins of Greenwashing
1. Sin of the hidden trade-off: committed by suggesting a product is “green”
based on an unreasonably narrow set of attributes without attention to other
important environmental issues (e.g., paper produced from a sustainably
harvested forest may still yield significant energy and pollution costs).
2. Sin of no proof: committed by an environmental claim that cannot be
substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable
third-party certification (e.g., paper products that claim various percentages of
postconsumer recycled content without providing any evidence).
3. Sin of vagueness: committed by every claim that is so poorly defined or broad
that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer (e.g., “all-
4. Sin of irrelevance: committed by making an environmental claim that may be
truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking
environmentally preferable products (e.g., “CFC-free” is meaningless given
that chlorofluorocarbons are already banned by law).
5. Sin of lesser of two evils: committed by claims that may be true within the
product category, but that risk distracting the consumer from the greater health
or environmental impacts of the category as a whole (e.g., organic cigarettes).
6. Sin of fibbing: committed by making environmental claims that are simply
false (e.g., products falsely claiming to be Energy Star certified).
7. Sin of false labels: committed by exploiting consumers’ demand for third-
party certification with fake labels or claims of third-party endorsement (e.g.,
certification-like images with green jargon such as “eco-preferred”).
In the following, the SCAP is being analysed with Baker’s ladder of sustainable
development and the Arcadia’s ‘fashion footprint’ programme with Baker’s ladder of
sustainable development and Dahlsrud dimensions of CSR and UL’s seven sins of
The case of the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap
In 2007, the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap or Plan (SCAP) was launched by Waste
& Resources Action Programme (WRAP), with the aim of improving the
sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle, ranging from the crops that are grown to
make the fabrics, to the design and manufacture of the garment, its retail, use and end
of life. An ambitious aim, but one which is necessary because clothing, whilst an
economic success story globally worth £500 billion, has a significant environmental
and social footprint across its supply chain. High consumption levels, especially in the
developed world, exacerbate this. The roadmap is based on the co-ordinated action of
key clothing and fashion stakeholders – the people best placed to make effective
improvements throughout their operations.
Starting from a baseline year of 2012, SCAP Signatories have committed to the
following by the end of 2020:
15% reduction in carbon footprint;
15% reduction in water footprint;
15% reduction in waste to landfill; and
3.5% reduction in waste arising over the whole product life cycle.
The seven action areas of the commitment
1. Use a common assessment tool to measure our baseline position and track changes
in footprint over time.
2. Reduce the environmental footprint of clothing through fibre and fabric selection.
3. Over the longer term work with our supply chain partners to reduce the
environmental footprint of their processes.
4. Extend the useful life of clothes and reduce the environmental impact of clothing in
use through our product design and services.
5. Develop effective messaging to influence key consumer behaviours which will
reduce the environmental footprint of clothing.
6. Increase re-use and recycling to recover maximum value from used clothing.
7. Develop actions that help keep clothes out of landfill.
Source: Adapted from SCAP 2020, 2014
Relating the concept of sustainability to clothing means that ideally this would be
clothing which meets the needs of today’s consumers, and is also made, transported,
sold, used and disposed in ways which do not adversely impact people or the planet –
now or at any time in the future. In practice, achieving this is not straightforward. It
involves trade-offs between different impacts and working out how to prioritise
improvements. The environmental impacts involved in the manufacture of clothing
vary significantly. For example, cotton growth involves significant water use, toxicity
from fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide use, whereas production of synthetic fibres
involves the generation of GHG emissions from the processing of fossil fuels. For all
fibres the dyeing and finishing processes can involve heavy water use resulting in
hazardous waste from pre-treatment chemicals.
The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap has a wide remit in order to ensure that the
relevant data is gathered and that the concept of sustainable clothing is understood in
its fullest sense. As the roadmap develops, it is tightening its focus and working to
agree actions to tackle a series of more defined ‘hot spots’ within the clothing
lifecycle. The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap concept is about bringing together
relevant sector expertise to understand the full picture and develop co-ordinated
Sustainable Design: Promoting Sustainable India
Sustainable Fashion explored and shared knowledge on sustainable design practice. In
India, the industry is a large net foreign exchange earner and a major employment
provider. From poverty wages to water and pesticide use in cotton farming, there is a
wide range of challenging sustainability issues related to the country’s industry.
However, there are also growing numbers of suppliers developing better practices.
This project, involving designers, suppliers of Indian textiles, buyers and
undergraduates from the London College of Fashion, Pearl Academy of Fashion
Delhi and the Amsterdam Fashion Institute aimed to build capacity and explore
market opportunities for using more sustainable Indian textiles. The project developed
an online sourcing toolkit and textile catalogue to help UK-based fashion businesses
develop productive relationships with Indian suppliers and successfully source
This project focused on demonstrating the environmental and business case for eco-
efficiency in Indian dye houses that supply the UK clothing market. Dyeing is
recognized as being a high impact process that consumes large quantities of water,
energy, and chemicals, and the dyeing industry is known to be one of the major global
polluters. The project selected three dye houses of differing abilities to work with in
order to reduce the amount of water, energy, and chemicals used to dye their products.
Motivating dye house staff to improve processes and data gathering were challenges,
but a key finding was that it is possible to significantly reduce costs and
environmental impacts by simple, low cost actions. In order to maximize progress
though, some capital investment is necessary. Three best practice seminars were held
in India to share the findings with the wider dyeing industry.
Source: Maxwell, 2010
Based on the evidence obtained, the roadmap participants agreed on five key action
1) Improving environmental performance across the supply chain
2) Consumption trends and behavior
3) Awareness, media, education, and networks
4) Creating market drivers
5) Traceability across the supply chain (ethics, trade, and environment)
At the end of 2010, WRAP commissioned an independent evaluation of the
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and WRAP initiated
voluntary agreements, including the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap. Catalysing
debate and increasing consumer understanding of the concept of sustainable clothing
is also a key part of the roadmap process. Clothing made from certified organic
cotton, recycled polyester clothing and Fair Trade certified clothes are all examples of
actions being taken to improve the sustainability of clothing. Although varying in
levels of sustainability improvement, these kinds of examples help consumers become
aware of their purchases and what their choices mean for the wider world.
This is a global challenge, and the UK is not alone in seeking solutions to the issues
surrounding sustainable clothing. Work continues with international partners to push
for greater action in supplier countries. As population figures rise and prosperity
increases around the globe, the demand for commodities will escalate and only those
sectors and businesses within them who are preparing for this future will remain
prosperous. Profitability and sustainability can no longer be seen as irreconcilable
forces, but inextricably linked.
Signatory measuring and reporting: measuring progress is a tool developed under
SCAP. Using the SCAP Footprint Calculator, Signatories can calculate and keep a
track of their baseline carbon, water, and waste footprints. Since reporting is an
annual process, the signatories will be able to use the SCAP Footprint Calculator to
calculate their carbon, water and waste footprints in a reliable and steady way.
Through an auto-generated form by the calculator, signatories will be able to report
on their progress.
With revised sector averages relating to in operation and waste destination data; The
SCAP Footprint Calculator will be updated yearly with a new edition that will be sent
to signatories for use during that year.
By using the outputs from ‘what if?’ scenario modeling and preceding years’ results,
Supply-side organizations will be able to calculate the following indicators
Before distributing a new and updated version of the calculator to supply-side and end
of life signatories, data from WRAP measuring consumer behavior will be collated
and included within the calculator each year.
End of life
Using outputs from different runs of the calculator and earlier years’ outcome, end of
life organizations will be able to calculate the following indicators.
The SCAP Footprint Calculator is used for recording the actions of the supporters.
Whenever and where ever it is achievable, it should be seen that there are measures
taken to make these actions more quantitative, say for example a supporter spoke at a
conference where xx number of people were present as audience or maybe WRAP
materials were distributed to an xx amount of subscribers, where xx is suggestive of
the amount or quantity. For communication purposes, the Footprint Calculator should
provide a page to be completed by the Supporters. The Supporters includes:
Not for profit
Source: Adapted from WRAP, 2010
SCAP aims to provide a uniform measurement and monitoring tool for the clothing
industry in UK. The plain emphasis on the need for the fashion industry to reduce
environmental footprint, changing consumer behavior, and using innovative product
design which are eco-friendly, while trying ways to keep out cloths from being
thrown away. Having a baseline and a standardized calculator provide standardized
data among all the signatories. The SCAP included trade/sector body, public sector,
standards body and not for profit sector, which help to make a balance within the
It could be said SCAP falls between pollution control and weak sustainable
development. SCAP aims to implement reuse, recycle, and manage the product life
cycle from suppliers to consumers, while at the same time focusing on globalization
when it comes to the supply chain. The use of environmental indicator is viable in the
plan, rather then simple market lead indicator.
The case of Arcadia Group: Fashion Footprint
Arcadia group is the UK’s second largest retailer with over 2,500 outlets with eight
high street brands – BHS, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge,
TOPMAN, TOPSHOP and Wallis.
Fashion Footprint is the programme of Arcadia Group to manage and monitor the
environmental and social impact of their business. The programme is headed by
Fashion Footprint Steering Group (FFSG), which comprises of senior members from
their varied businesses. One of the key pillars of the Fashion Footprint programme is
the engagement of the stakeholders, which includes their employees, suppliers,
customers, trade union, governments, non-governmental organisations, students,
campaign groups, competitor and third party service providers. The Fashion Footprint
programme focuses on their products, environment, employees and communities
The break down of fashion footprint programme
o Ethical Audit Programme
o Country Risk Assessments
o RAGS – the Responsible and Accountable Garment
o Sector Project
o Joint Turkey Project
o Strategic Labour Priorities
o Code of Conduct Guidebook
o Management Systems
o Prohibited Activities
Environmental Impacts of Products; and
Energy efficient and CO2 emission reduction
Recycling and waste reduction
Efficient transportation and logistic
Retail staff engagement
Employee volunteering scheme
Employee training and development on ethical trading
NEWGEN: Sponsoring and monitoring young fashion talent
Working with local charities in the suppliers country (India and Bangladesh)
Source: Adapted from Arcadia, 2013
Arcadia Group acknowledge the Bangladesh fire disaster in November 2012 and
building collapse in April 2013, and signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in
Bangladesh in September 2013. The main challenge for Arcadia Group claimed by
them is finding local and right expertise for verification and validation of paperwork.
As part of Accountable Garment Sector Challenge Fund (RAGS), Arcadia Group was
one of six initial retailers to part-fund the project, working on improving the garment
manufacturers management systems. This is lead by industry consultants with
specialist skills aiming to improve the garment manufacturers’ business practices and
the day-to-day lives of the factory workers. They are working in partnership with
factories in Bangladesh and India, the project aimed to show the business the benefits
of providing better jobs through (Arcadia, 2013):
Establishing a more stable and satisfied workforce
Enhancing workers’ pay
Avoiding excessive hours worked
Improving productivity and quality in the longer term
The fashion footprint programme of Arcadia group concentrated on its CSR activities
have higher weightage towards its products, employees and community, showing the
company’s policies are more inclined towards the social and stakeholder dimensions
of CSR with some degree of environmental. Arcadia group concentrated on
improving the quality of the factories with whom the suppliers work with an auditing
practice which is structured, well rounded and is independent, done by an appointed
recognised third party. They pay importance to the development of the factory
workers community in the countries their suppliers work in, especially Bangladesh
and India. They are tying to implement new processes and management through
knowledge transfer and supporting them financially and institutionally. The use of
secondary sources of leather and a no fur policy contributes towards the environment
function of CSR, where the right of the animal to some degree are protected.
Engagement of the stakeholder is another area, where Arcadia Group’s emphasis on
store employees’ training to encourage the user to recycle clothes and other products
and the values of the fashion footprint programme. On the social dimension, with the
Accountable Garment Sector Challenge Fund (RAGS) programme, the results were
positive in both Bangladesh and India, where the factory workers rights are getting
recognised and they are able to work in a better environment. Arcadia Group also
work with the local community within the UK by showcasing the work of young
talent and helping youth to get into the retail industry through its buyers,
merchandisers and designer apprentice scheme.
The Accountable Garment Sector Challenge Fund (RAGS)
Designed by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Responsible
and Accountable Garment Sector Challenge Fund (RAGS) was created to support
project aiming to improving conditions of vulnerable workers in the Ready-Made
Garment (RMG) production sector. From 2010 to 2013 RAGS supported twelve
projects in four countries, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Lesotho by providing
matching grants to organisations associated with labour conditions in the garment
sector in developing countries. Grantees included private businesses, trade unions and
members of both ethical and fair trade movements. Eleven projects were completed.
The impact of the programme is “responsible, ethical production is the norm in the
garment sector supplying the UK market”.
The outcome is “RAGS acts as a catalyst to better working conditions in garment
industries through the identification and development of scalable and replicable
interventions in key labour areas”.
The three programme outputs are:
Improved business case for ethical garment production
Improved awareness of decent work and labour rights amongst workers and
managers and better capacity to enforce them
Known barriers to suppliers and buyers scaling up ethical practices are
Source: Smith et al., 2014
The achievement of RAGS project in India and Bangladesh, the countries, which have
factories in relation to Arcadia Group, can be found as follows (Arcadia, 2013).
Improvement of factory efficiency
Improved cut to ship ratio,
allowing factories to save £40,000
Reduction of workers absenteeism
by 34% in average, showing
improvement in the worker
Reduction of worker turnover
reduced by 52%, implying fewer
people leaving the job
Increase in average take home
pay, 8% increase in the pay
companied to beginning of the
programme (average of 491 taka
Improvement of factory efficiency
Improved cut to ship ratio,
allowing factories to save £25,000
Reduction of worker turnover
reduced by 26%, implying fewer
people leaving the job
Increase in average take home
pay, 5% increase in the pay
companied to beginning of the
programme (average of 265
rupees per month)
Annual pay of £614,000 across all
the workers employed by
Hourly pay increased by 8%.
Reduction of working hours of the
workers, with 43% fall in workers
working more the 60 hours per
Hourly pay increased by 12%
Source: Adapted from Arcadia, 2013
The importance of factory workers’ welfare in the Global South, was highlighted by
the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, the factory workers were inhumanely and worked in
a hazardous environment. This thesis is concentrated on the labour practice of Arcadia
Group. Since the disaster, they have concentrated heavily on the Code of Conducts
(CoC), which their suppliers need to follow, with detailed guidance on how to audit,
implement and manage systems and processes in the factories they worked with.
Arcadia has priorities for the labour in the factories, with whom the suppliers work
Arcadia supports the accepted definition of a living wage, that all the workers
in the supply chain including those working in subcontracted, informal, home
and migrant workers, should at least get wages sufficient to meet their basic
needs for food, clean water, shelter, transport etc, as well as discretionary
income. They follow campaign groups such as Behind the Label (LBL) and
the Asia Floor Wage Campaign who work in and around the four pillars of
collaboration; worker organising and freedom of association; purchasing
practices and developing a route map to a living wage and have influenced
brands like TOPSHOP and TOPMAN’s Joint Turkey Project to develop
around pillars (to develop and implement a strategic and holistic programme
that will improve factory productivity, workers’ conditions, working hours,
earnings and worker management dialogue).
Freedom of association
With a small percentage of the factories that the suppliers use and that are
known to have trade unions, it becomes difficult to ensure freedom of
association in a continuous process
A significant part in the area of how suppliers’ factories manage their people,
their production and their working is the intensification of training for all
appropriate staff, everyone ranging from design, buying and merchandising. A
training programme had started in the year 2011 with a hope that by the end of
2012 this would have been finalised, but this target could not be fulfilled due
to other projects. Nevertheless, new buying procedures and new policies such
as those relating to Bangladesh have been updated recently in the training.
The vulnerable workers identified by Arcadia are i) Home workers, ii)
Migrant workers and iii) Contract workers.
o Home workers
Home workers have been rendered a vulnerable group due to their
invisibility and in combination with their complex employment status.
Implementation and use of the toolkit has, however, faced many
challenges. It is hoped that limiting the work to two suppliers, which in
turn makes it easier to manage and focus, can assess the benefits more
o Migrant workers
Arcadia Group has been, in recent years, very actively working in the
area of improving the recruitment and working environment of migrant
workers, who travel from place to place in search of employment. In
this process they are exposed to number of unscrupulous agents who
tend to exploit them and render them vulnerable. It is for this reason
that the Migrant Workers Guidelines have been developed.
o Contract workers
Two other high street retailers are also associated with TOPSHOP and
TOPMAN’s work in the area of contract workers. It is felt that
whatever work has been carried out up to date has raised important
awareness of the priorities and the challenges contract workers have to
Arcadia Group implements a management system for its suppliers, which need to be
followed by them. Arcadia developed the management systems which have been
stretched out to cover all areas of traditional and strategic human resources
management systems which involves:
1. The relation between a worker’s commitment and a successful business;
2. The steps required reaching these benefits;
3. The part played by the HR department; and
4. How to apply the examples and templates of practical tools that are available.
Forming the basis of all the areas are the following basic drivers of worker
engagement that should be developed by all organisations
1. Leadership that visibly transmits vision and values – this means being clear
about the ideas and principles and also to include workers in leadership’s
2. Engaging managers, i.e. managers who help and give power to rather than be
in charge of and control their staff, managers with capabilities like
appreciation, respect and commitment to develop
3. Workers voices: an environment where workers can voice their views and
4. Behaviour that is reliable and steady with stated values leading to conviction
and honesty throughout the organisation
All brands under Arcadia, must submit a third party ethical audit, which should not be
older than one year in order for a new factory setup. The ethical audit process follows
the following steps (Arcadia (a), 2009).
Opening meeting with the management and the workers union, explaining the
Document review regarding compliance with law, working hours, wages and
Tour of the whole factory facility
Interview of the employees, selected in random by the auditors, both
individually and in groups
Closing meeting where the findings are presented and a timescale is agreed on
how to address the failures.
Provide support on fulfilling the non-compliances and conduct follow up
audits according to timeline.
Depending on the audit, the result is classified into four categories
The ‘Green’ rating indicates the factory is at low risk of violation of the Arcadia’s
code. The next audit will be conducted within one year. Violations, under this
category, are like consuming food on the production floor or workers unable to
understand the pay slips.
The ‘Yellow’ rating indicates the factory is at medium risk of violation of the
Arcadia’s code. The next audit will be conducted within nine months. Violations,
under this category, are like uncovered electrical panel or emergency evacuation drills
are not conducted.
The ‘Orange’ rating indicates the factory is at high risk of violation of the Arcadia’s
code. The next follow up audit must be conducted within three months. Violations,
under this category, are like locked emergency exits or compulsory unpaid overtime.
The ‘Red’ rating indicates the factory is critically violating the Arcadia’s code. The
factories will need to address these issues immediately and will be re-audited
Source: Arcadia (a), 2009
Employment Standard Guideline
Employment Standard Guideline is a document produced by Arcadia group providing
guidance to the managers of the factories with whom they have relationship with.
This is a part of Arcadia’s Code of Conduct (CoC), employment standard guideline
providing specific practical guidance to the factories on how to implement new
process in order to improve their standards. This also helps the factories to produce
their own Code of Conduct to improve the working condition of the factory and its
employee with compliance with the local law.
The highlight of Arcadia’s ‘Code of Conduct Guidebook: Employment standard” can
broadly divided into the following.
Promoting Labour Compliance in the Factory
General Working Principles
Employee has freedom to choose employment
Employees have the Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective
Abstain from use of Child Labour
Payment of Living Wages
Limited Working Hours
Security of Employment should be provided
Employees not treated in harsh or inhuman manner
Source: Arcadia (b), 2009
It can be demonstrated that Arcadia Group focuses a lot on the welfare of the factory
workers. Arcadia provides support and guidance to the suppliers on how to improve
the environment of the factory workers, but this in not a legal or contractual
obligation, as Arcadia Group does not have the jurisdiction and rights over the factory
workers as they have contracts with the suppliers and not with the factories directly.
Sourcing of raw material
Arcadia prohibits a number of activities, which includes policies to protect animal
welfare, the sandblasting technique, the use of Uzbek cotton and mulesing of sheep.
Sandblasting, banned in 2011 because of the potential health hazards faced by
workers if they breathe in the fine silica particles used, is a process by which denim is
given a worn out or a faded look. In 2008, Uzbek cotton was banned because there
were concerns regarding forced child labour in Uzbekistan during cotton harvesting
season. A sheep husbandry practice followed by the Australian wool industry to
remove skin from sheep (often without anaesthetic) in order to prevent fly strike
refers to as mulesing.
Environmental impact of products:
Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP)
The main aim of SCAP, is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle
with a view to bring together the clothing industry, government and other
stakeholders to collectively take action to reduce the carbon, water and waste
footprint, along with providing support, tools and guidance. SCAP’s 2020
commitment will witness the measures taken to reduce the overall carbon, water and
waste footprints across all brands.
Through a seven point action plan, signatories are dedicated to playing their part in
reducing their UK carbon, water and waste footprint, which is as follows:
1. Usage of a common evaluation device to measure baseline position and track
changes in footprint on a time to time basis.
2. Through fibres and fabric selection decrease the environmental footprint of
3. Work with supply chain partners over a long period, to reduce the
environmental footprint of their processes.
4. Through product design and services extend the useful life of clothes and
reduce the environmental impact of clothing in use by means of product
design and services.
5. Develop efficient messaging systems to influence consumer behaviours, which
in turn will reduce the environmental footprint of clothing.
6. To recover highest value from used clothing increase the concept of re-use and
7. Develop actions plans that help keep clothes out of the landfill.
Created from fabric that would otherwise be treated, as waste is a range of up-cycled
clothing called Reclaim to wear continues to grow both in terms of scale and global
availability. With the introduction of the range in collaboration with From
Somewhere, the summer of 2013 saw the launch of a second collection as part of the
promotion of TOPSHOP’s new flagship store in Hong Kong. The second range which
has been produced in greater volumes, offers an increased selection of style, which is
nothing but a reflection of demand identified when last year’s collection sold out in a
matter of days. The range has entirely been produced in the UK and a great deal of the
material that was used was garnered from previous TOPSHOP Unique collections.
Due to high enthusiastic customer response, it has encouraged the further
development of the range and tap into the growing profile of up cycling. ‘Made in the
UK’ project goes from strength to strength, reflecting a wider trend of sourcing some
products closer to home.
As part of their factory set up it is mandatory for all suppliers to sign up to an animal
welfare declaration. Suppliers are automatically reminded of the animal welfare
policy when they are asked to supply goods made from animal sources through our
internet-based test report system. Further confirmations will be put in place by our
new ethical audit database (Valid8), which includes reinforcing our ban on wool from
producers that use mulesing as part of their animal husbandry techniques. According
to the existing policies, Arcadia, Group expects suppliers to stick to the following
The source of leathers, skins and feathers must only be obtained as a by-
product and not be the exclusive reason of the slaughter of an animal;
Fully or partially, no products are to be sourced from endangered species lists
of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) or
IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature);
Any products supplied to Arcadia Group should not use real fur or pelts
While an animal is alive leathers should not be obtained;
Arcadia Group branded cosmetics, and their ingredients, must not be tested on
animals and feathers should not be plucked from live animals
TOPSHOP paired up with animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals) to launch a campaigning window in the Oxford Circus
flagship store, it provided a clear public reminder of our stand on the use of exotic
animal skins, which urged the customers to ‘Keep Wildlife out of your Wardrobe’ by
signing a PETA pledge, Its main objective in doing so was to reinforce the message
that exotic animal skins such as crocodile, python and lizard are often gathered using
painful and unethical methods.
Source: Adapted from Arcadia, 2013
Currently more than 50% of used clothes in UK go into landfill, and with the
‘Sustain’ programme, Arcadia Group’s brands are encouraging recycling of clothes,
as used garments can be reused to produce new clothes. As a member of Sustainable
Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), they are actively participating in making the fashion
industry a sustainable one. Arcadia Group has a strong stand when it comes to animal
welfare, and follows international standards regarding protecting of the animal rights.
Arcadia Group have well written communication material which is meant for the
suppliers to follow, when it comes for the suppliers use of factories, but there is no
transparent way to verify, what is actually happening on the ground. According to the
radio documentary, High St Fashion: Weaving New Thread, although there has been a
change on the safety standards and government regulation, the condition of the
workers have not improved in terms of harassment, abuse and threat, and there is a
visible discrepancy between what is on paper and what actually exists.
Arcadia Group has to some degree used ‘greenwash’ as a part of their communication
material, especially using words with double meaning. With reference to the sins of
greenwash, the Arcadia Group sustainability report has not provided sources of any
proof, which makes it difficult to verify. There is a degree of vagueness on the
achievement as to who has actual control over the factory workers and how the CoC
is actually applied on the grounds of the factories of the Global South.
Arcadia Group understands the need to reuse and is bringing in different programmes
and systems, which encourages consumers to recycle the clothes, allowing the fabric
to be reused. They invested in training store employees, who are in direct contact with
the consumers. The animal welfare policy of Arcadia is another way of contributing
towards environmental sustainability, by using secondary sources and not using
endangered species. As part of the SCAP, Arcadia is financing research on how to
reduce the carbon and water footprint. With SCAP, the aim is not just to find a
solution to reduce footprints, but also to work on changing the way supply chain
partners work, extend the product life of clothes and decrease environmental impacts
of clothes through innovative use of fabric and design (e.g. use of water resistant
fabric). SCAP also understand the involvement of consumers and change in consumer
behaviour is extremely necessary in order to increase the life cycle of garments. With
reference to Susan Bakers ladder of sustainability, Arcadia Group was at ‘pollution
control’, actively trying to reposition itself towards weak sustainable development.
Greenwashing is an eminent tool used within the fashion industry. The industry uses
the good CSR activity to cover any negative publicity or actions. An example will be
the Arcadia Group that has a well balanced sustainability programme encouraging
social and environmental protection, but at the same time, they fail to control the
consumerism and the fast fashion movement. Some critics of sustainable development
already argue that it is not possible to achieve sustainability within the fashion
industry due to the fast moving nature (Brones, 2014).
From SCAP and Arcadia Group’s ‘fashion footprint’ programme, it is visible that
sector bodies and brands are making a shift from pollution control towards weak
sustainable development. The industry know the negativity connected with the fast
moving fashion and its effect on the environment, especially in the production of the
fabric. There is prominent evidence that both SCAP and Arcadia Group are
concentrating on improving the sustainability from garment production stage to the
disposal of garment, often ignoring the production of the fabric.
Another alternative way through which sustainability within the fashion industry can
be achieved is through using the concept of ‘Fair Trade’, the model that currently
exists with the food industry.
Fair trade within Fashion Industry
If one asks what fair trade is, the answer will be that fair trade is nothing but an
opportunity for producers and suppliers to provide a fair price and fair working
conditions, through promoting equal trade agreements. In recent years, fair trade in
the food sector has experienced a considerable amount of growth. A demand for fairer
practices in the clothing sector has increased due to consumer concern surrounding
sweatshop clothing production. Even though many organisations have come up with
codes of conducts on production practices, there is an ever increasing demand from
many campaigners and consumers to improve them and ensure fairer practices.
Ethically concerned consumers find themselves confronted by uncertainty both in
terms of information available to help in decision-making and the consequences of
their actions (Tomolillo and Shaw, 2004).
Taking an example of buying a t-shirt, the criteria on which the consumer will make
the choice may include the ‘people issue’ of whether the t-shirt is made is fairly
traded one or one made under sweatshop conditions. Therefore, the country of origin
and working conditions are important factors that a consumer may consider before
purchasing and may even choose to purchase a garment produced in their home
country to highlight these concerns. This may give rise to conflicts, between a
concern to trade fairly with the Global South and desire to support home-country
production. In such cases the purchase of a t-shirt, which traditionally is a low
involvement product, will require the consumer to make more effort in decision
making. A ‘words/deeds inconsistency’ has been reported in terms of a weak
relationship between what consumers say, and what they do (Shaw et al, 2006)
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43. Fashion Footprint is Arcadia
Group’s programme to monitor and
manage the social and environmental
impacts of our business. This summary
document provides an overview of
our achievements in the 12 months
up to August 2013. A full version is
available for download at
As ever, we are keen to hear
what you have to say about this
report and any activities within our
Fashion Footprint programme. You
can share your views by emailing
them to hellofashionfootprint@
44. Fashion Footprint is
important to our employees
who provide valuable insights
to shape our activities.
Arcadia has a long-held
tradition of support for a wide
range of communities. We
give back at group level,
via our brands and through
the individual efforts of our
Our emplOyees Our cOmmunities
This pillar focuses on
understanding and reducing
the impacts that manufacturing
our products may have on
people and planet.
A key part of being a
responsible retailer is to
minimise environmental impacts
in the areas of energy,
waste and transport.
Our prOducts Our envirOnment
e continue to pursue
improvements of working
conditions at our suppliers’
tragically, this year has involved solemn
reminders of the need to keep our
responsibilities at the forefront of our
priorities. We were deeply saddened
by the events suffered by garment
workers in Bangladesh, first with the
fire in november 2012 and then by the
building collapse in April 2013.
We signed the Accord on Fire and
Building safety in Bangladesh, which
will work towards improving worker
safety, and take this commitment
Our ApprOAch tO
- ethical trading, including reviewing
independent audits of working
conditions in the factories that
suppliers use to make our goods.
- reducing the environmental impacts
of these factories, such as waste.
- Animal welfare: implementing
our policy to respect animals
and protect endangered species.
RAGS is one of our major
ethical trading projects
focusing on Benefits for
Business and Workers in
india and Bangladesh.
We’ve signed up to a
major new initiative,
that aims to improve
the fashion industry’s
reclaim to Wear, tOpshOp’s range of
up-cycled clothing continues to grow,
both in terms of scale and worldwide
46. Our approach to the environment
Whether it is down to small-scale
change, such as switching to energy-
efficient lamps in stores, through to
sourcing over 90% of the energy we
use in our stores, head offices and
distribution centres from renewables,
we are always seeking ways to reduce
our environmental impact.
The movement of our products is an
area that has seen transformative
plans put in place this year. Wherever
possible, we seek to minimise the
impacts of transporting products.
This year we reduced our
This is the sixth year in a row that
we have achieved such reductions.
We anticipate that all of our store
delivery fleet will be replaced by
early 2014 to be fully ‘Euro 5’
47. As one of the largest employers within
fashion retail, we want to work on
causes that benefit those within the
We continue to support young fashion
talent. This is a dual strategy, working
on education in partnership with the
Fashion Retail Academy and sponsoring
rising stars via the London Fashion
Week’s NEWGEN programme.
ur brands continue to add value
to the relationships they have
formed with partner charities
and have raised £1.5m between them
Harmony House was named as our
new Fashion Footprint charity this
year. The charity works to provide
shelter, education and healthcare
for the families of those who work in
the garment industry in an area of
Our employees donate via our
Workplace Giving Scheme and total
donations this year were £164,000.
Fashion Retail Academy graduation 2013
48. Last year’s widening of the Fashion
Footprint programme to embrace our
store-based colleagues has proven to
be a springboard for further activity.
We are planning a Fashion Footprint
Focus Week where we will revisit the
pledges made to date and encourage
stores to overachieve their targets. Each
store team will be given an opportunity
to communicate their own messages to
be shared with colleagues.
e have taken a number of
steps this year to reinforce
the two-way benefits of
We have adopted ideas that have
been driven out of the extension
of Fashion Footprint to our retail
community. We have completed
an employee volunteering pilot and put
in place steps to take that forward. We
continue to value the feedback from our
Fashion Footprint Advisory Panel.
Recent graduate joiners
49. We reviewed
audits for the
is the total
amount we raised
for charity this
For the 5th consecutive
year we have managed
to reduce our absolute
our total CO2
since 2008 to over
The full version of our
report including next
steps is available to
52. 1 Introduction
3 The Roadmap Process
4 Stage 1: Review Evidence
7 Stage 2: Engage Stakeholders
8 Stage 3: Action Planning and Implementation
16 Stage 4: Evaluation
DEF-PB13461-Clothing.indd 2 10/03/2011 16:46
The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap
launched in 2007, with the aim
of improving the sustainability of
clothing across its lifecycle, from
the crops that are grown to make
the fabrics, to the design and
manufacture of the garment, retail,
use and end of life.
An ambitious aim, but one which is necessary
because clothing, whilst an economic success
story globally worth £500 billion, has a significant
environmental and social footprint across
its supply chain. This is exacerbated by high
consumption levels, especially in the developed
world. Led by Defra, and working closely
with sector experts, the roadmap is based on
the co-ordinated action of key clothing and
fashion stakeholders – the people best placed
to make effective improvements throughout
their operations. From April this year, Defra’s
delivery body, the Waste and Resources Action
Programme (WRAP), will formally take over the
running of the roadmap.
The UN definition of the term ‘sustainability’
refers to ‘development which meets the needs
of the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their own needs’.
Relating the concept of sustainability to clothing
means that ideally this would be clothing which
meets the needs of today’s consumers, and is also
made, transported, sold, used and disposed of in
ways which do not adversely impact people or
the planet – now or at any time in the future.
In practice, achieving this is not straightforward.
It involves trade-offs between different impacts
and working out how to prioritise improvements.
The environmental impacts involved in the
manufacture of clothing vary significantly. For
example, cotton growth involves significant water
use, toxicity from fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide
use, whereas production of synthetic fibres
involves the generation of GHG emissions from
the processing of fossil fuels. For all fibres the
dyeing and finishing processes can involve heavy
water use resulting in hazardous waste from
pre-treatment chemicals. In the use phase, the
energy consumed in laundering during the water
heating and air heating in the tumble drying also
have significant environmental impacts.
Sustainable Clothing Roadmap Progress Report 2011 | 01
Environmental impacts across the lifecycle
DEF-PB13461-Clothing.indd 1 11/03/2011 09:13
54. When the roadmap was set up, it was understood
that there is no simple straightforward answer on
how to tackle these issues and that government
alone could not provide a solution. Instead, the
concept of the roadmap process is about bringing
together relevant sector expertise to understand
the full picture and develop co-ordinated action.
In the UK, around two million tonnes of clothing
are purchased per annum, with the fast/discount
fashion sector (characterised by low cost, short
lifetime garments) making up one-fifth of the UK
market. We discard approximately one million
tonnes of unwanted clothing a year – 50% of
which ends up in landfill. As 90% of UK clothing
is imported, our activities have a significant
overseas “footprint”, particularly in India, China
and other developing countries.
We are all part of the problem and, more
encouragingly, can be part of the solution.
Only now are we beginning to learn just how
interconnected we are; that small actions in one
part of the world can have big consequences
The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap has a wide
remit in order to ensure that the relevant data
is gathered and that the concept of sustainable
clothing is understood in its fullest sense. As
the roadmap develops, it is tightening its focus
and working to agree actions to tackle a series
of more defined ‘hot spots’ within the clothing
lifecycle. The two current task groups are
focusing on reuse and recycling and on clothes
cleaning, and we plan to move on to tackle other
‘hot spot’ areas.
This progress report outlines what has
been achieved since 2007 in terms of our
understanding of the concept of sustainable
clothing, through evidence gathering and
stakeholder engagement. A number of the
actions which form part of the roadmap’s
‘action plan’ have been included with the aim
of demonstrating some of our achievements
and sharing best practice.
If you would like more information on how to get
involved in the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap
please email email@example.com or
take a look at our website www.defra.co.uk and
search ‘sustainable clothing roadmap’.
“In the UK, around two
million tonnes of clothing
are purchased per annum...”
02 | Sustainable Clothing Roadmap Progress Report 2011
DEF-PB13461-Clothing.indd 2 10/03/2011 16:46
56. 04 | Sustainable Clothing Roadmap Progress Report 2011
“The textile industry is one of the industries with
the longest and most complicated industrial chains
of the manufacturing industry. It involves actors
from the agricultural, chemical fibre, textile, and
apparel industries, retail and services sector, and
waste treatment. The industry is fragmented and
heterogeneous, dominated by small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) which account for more than
80% of the market.”*
The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap is an attempt to
improve the environmental and social performance
of clothing consumed in the UK, building on
existing initiatives and by coordinating action by
key clothing supply chain stakeholders. It is one
of ten pilot roadmaps that were set up by Defra in
2007 (examples of other roadmaps are fish, milk,
windows and televisions). Product roadmapping is a
collaborative process for understanding and tackling
the environmental impacts of a product, throughout
the various stages in its lifecycle – from raw materials
through to production, retail and distribution, use and
end of life. The roadmapping process has four stages:
Review evidence: The first stage is to look at the
impacts of product across its lifecycle and the
action that is already being taken, put the two
together and highlight any gaps.
Engage stakeholders: We then put together a
group of stakeholders from across the product
lifecycle – manufacturers, retailers, users and
Action plan: We work with stakeholders to
develop an action plan – including actions by
government and industry at all stages of the
supply chain – to address the gaps highlighted
by the evidence study.
Implement and evaluate: Finally, we implement
the action plan to improve the sustainability of
the product. We then monitor and evaluate what
it delivers, and what we have learnt about the
This report is an overview of what has been achieved
in these four stages so far – detailing the evidence
gathered and drawing out some of the actions being
undertaken by stakeholders. The Clothing Roadmap is
now at the implementation and evaluation stage, having
produced the first action plan in 2009, and an update
in 2010. The roadmap continues to develop as new
members join the process and the task groups work
to develop future actions.
Defra and other organisations have commissioned a
number of evidence projects to help inform all roadmap
members and the wider clothing sector, and identify
potential actions. Most of this evidence work started
early on in the roadmap process, some are ongoing.
For ease of reference, the studies have been grouped
together in the section below, the majority of them
are also actions within the roadmap’s Action Plan.
The evidence studies are detailed in lifecycle order
Mapping of evidence of sustainable
development impacts that occur in
life cycles of clothing (2007)
As Defra’s first research under the Sustainable Clothing
Roadmap, this evidence study undertook a review
of existing literature on the life cycle of clothing. The
review determined the overall social and environmental
impact of the clothing life cycle along with any existing
interventions and made further recommendations for
improving the overall sustainability of clothing. The
research assessed the robustness, uncertainties and
identified gaps in the evidence of impacts. It made
recommendations on further research required on
life cycle impacts of clothing. Finally, it assessed the
effectiveness of existing interventions to improve
the sustainability performance of clothing and made
recommendations on where UK interventions could
make a significant improvement.
is a larg
*Environmental Improvement Potentials of Textiles, European Commission
Report – report pending publication from the European Commission Joint
Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.
DEF-PB13461-Clothing.indd 4 10/03/2011 16:46
57. Sustainable Clothing Roadmap Progress Report 2011 | 05
Ninety per cent of clothing consumed in the UK is
imported. Encouraging environmental and ethical
improvements across the international clothing supply
chains feeding the UK is essential to improve the
sustainability of the clothing we wear in the UK. As
India, after China, is the second largest manufacturer
of clothing imported into the country, Defra has
funded two clothing demonstration projects under
the department’s Sustainable Development Dialogues
Process, which tie in with the work of the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office and the Department
for International Development. The Dialogues
were established as a means to accelerate delivery
of commitments made at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development, and to help achieve the
Millennium Development Goals.
Sustainable Design: Promoting
Sustainable Indian Textiles (2010)
The Shared Talent India project, led by the Centre for
Sustainable Fashion, explored and shared knowledge
on sustainable design practice. In India, the industry
is a large net foreign exchange earner and a major
employment provider. From poverty wages to water
and pesticide use in cotton farming, there are a wide
range of challenging sustainability issues related to
the country’s industry. However, there are also growing
numbers of suppliers developing better practices.
This project, involving designers, suppliers of Indian
textiles, buyers and undergraduates from the London
College of Fashion, Pearl Academy of Fashion Delhi
and the Amsterdam Fashion Institute aimed to build
capacity and explore market opportunities for using
more sustainable Indian textiles. The project developed
an online sourcing toolkit and textile catalogue to
help UK-based fashion businesses develop productive
relationships with Indian suppliers and successfully
source sustainable textiles.
For more information visit:
Indian Dyehouses (2010)
This project focused on demonstrating the
environmental and business case for eco-efficiency in
Indian dyehouses that supply the UK clothing market.
Dyeing is recognised as being a high impact process
that consumes large quantities of water, energy and
chemicals, and the dyeing industry is known to be one
of the major global polluters. The project selected three
dyehouses of differing abilities to work with in order
to reduce the amount of water, energy and chemicals
used to dye their products. Motivating dyehouse
staff to improve processes and data gathering were
challenges, but a key finding was that it is possible to
significantly reduce costs and environmental impacts
by simple, low cost actions. In order to maximise
progress though, some capital investment is necessary.
Three best practice seminars were held in India to
share the findings with the wider dyeing industry.
DEF-PB13461-Clothing.indd 5 10/03/2011 16:46
58. 06 | Sustainable Clothing Roadmap Progress Report 2011
The Role and Business Case for
Existing and Emerging Fibres in
Sustainable Clothing (2010)
The aim of this evidence project was to evaluate
the environmental and social impacts of existing
and emerging clothing fibres and their market potential
into the future. This was done to determine the business
case for clothing fibres and fabrics from a sustainability
perspective. The intent was to provide industry with
clarity on the environmental and social impacts of
fibres/fabrics to enable increased use of those with
sound sustainability credentials and economic viability.
A number of key data gaps and inconsistencies in
reporting of the environmental and social impacts
of fibres emerged during the project which prevented
an accurate comparison of different fibre types.
Thus the indicative ranking of fibres by
environmental impact presented in the study must
be treated with caution, as at best it only represents
a high level indication. The study highlights a number
of evidence gaps requiring further research for more
Use: Reducing the Environmental
Impact of Clothes Cleaning (2009)
Defra commissioned this project because existing
evidence shows that the impacts of the clothes cleaning
stage of the clothing lifecycle has high environmental
impacts and that there is further potential for
improvement beyond existing interventions. The project
aim was to identify and analyse the options to reduce
the energy, water and chemicals intensity of clothes
cleaning. Information on current cleaning methods
was collected and the environmental impacts of these
methods (including potential trade-offs) assessed.
Six aspects of clothes cleaning were considered:
Fibre and fabric characteristics e.g. anti crease
or anti bacterial coatings
Washing and drying appliances
Low/non-solvent dry cleaning
Detergents and their packaging
Sustainable building design
Final assembly of garments and durability
The evidence confirmed that the environmental
impacts of clothes cleaning are significant with energy
consumption and associated GHG emissions from
the heating of water (washer) and air (dryer) often
quoted as approximately 80% of the use phase energy
impacts. Eutrophication and other toxicity impacts
due to washing detergents are the other significant
impacts. Taking into account consumer behaviour and
societal trends, the project found that the best options
to reduce the impacts of clothes cleaning would
be through awareness campaigns and regulatory/
legislative interventions. Defra set up a Clothes Cleaning
Task Group to come up with joint actions in this area
(see page 10).
DEF-PB13461-Clothing.indd 6 10/03/2011 16:46
59. Sustainable Clothing Roadmap Progress Report 2011 | 07
Use: Public Understanding of
Sustainable Clothing (2008)
This research sets out people’s current understanding
of sustainable clothing and explores their response to
behaviours that may mitigate impacts of their clothes
buying, maintenance and disposal. Using focus group
methods and follow up sessions, the research explored:
people’s aspirations in relation to clothing – what would
they like to buy and wear, and what might nudge
their aspirations towards a more sustainable picture;
assumptions of ‘good clothing’; understanding of
sustainable clothing; and expectations of government
and industry. In order to raise awareness of the
sustainability impacts of clothing among the general
public, the research advised a number of strategies.
These included the provision of better labelling on
the source of products, exploring options to increase
recovery of clothing through ‘take back’ schemes, and
building on the ‘wash at 30°C’ campaign.
End of life: Maximising Reuse
and Recycling of UK Clothing
and Textiles (2009)
This project reported comprehensive and robust
data on the quality and quantity of post consumer
clothing and textile waste in the UK. It presented
and evaluated strategies for increasing reuse and
recycling in order to divert them from landfill. This
included a detailed assessment of the barriers and
opportunities to maximise reuse and recycling, the
technical and economic feasibility of different options,
the infrastructure requirements, and examples of best
practice from overseas. A pilot scale trial to test textile
waste suitability for reuse/recycling was conducted for
a representative sample of households in Birmingham.
The study recommends key interventions in order to
optimise technologies and develop markets for clothing
and textiles items and their constituent materials, thus
diverting more from landfill.
Although theoretically, this is the second stage of the
roadmap, stakeholders were engaged right from the
start of the process. Those who expressed interest in
undertaking commitments were invited to participate
on the steering groups for the evidence projects
Nearly 300 stakeholder organisations along the supply
chain of UK consumed clothing have participated in
the roadmap to date, including clothing retailers,
fibre/fabric/garment manufacturers, suppliers, clothing
reuse and recycling organisations, charities, industry
associations, government, NGOs, practitioners,
academia and support organisations.
Of those 300, around 40 have committed to take
action. They are a diverse group – including large and
small organisations, businesses, Government and
civil society, mainstream brands and sustainability
Different organisations face different challenges,
and are at different stages of their journey towards
sustainability. The actions detailed overleaf illustrate
this. Some organisations are just entering this arena,
whilst others have been working on it for a significant
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