United Kingdom: Primark seeks to woo eco-conscious consumers with sustainability drive

Fast-fashion chain Primark has said it will make its clothes more durable and commit to using more sustainable materials in all its garments by 2030 as part of a new sustainability strategy.

The $30bn fast-fashion industry has come under scrutiny in recent years for its impact on the environment from increasingly eco-conscious consumers. The sector accounts for more annual carbon emissions than all international flights and shipping combined, according to researchers at Princeton University.

The Ireland-based discount clothing chain, owned by Associated British Foods, said the nine-year initiative would have only a marginal impact on costs and no material impact on its margins in the near term. Its commitments include making all its clothing recyclable and eliminating single-use plastic from its products before the end of the decade.

“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,” Primark chief executive Paul Marchant said. The company said it’s more sustainable Primark Cares range already accounted for a quarter of its clothing. “Our new commitments mark a significant acceleration in the pace and scale of change,” Marchant added. Global consumption of apparel has rocketed in recent decades, as fast-fashion brands have produced lower-quality clothes cheaply and quickly while accelerating trend cycles, making garments more disposable. Some low-cost chains offer new styles every week, while the total consumed globally in 2019 hit 62m metric tonnes.

Some 57 per cent of all clothing ends up in landfills, the Princeton researchers noted, often releasing toxic substances when incinerated. “If the industry maintains its course, an increase of 50 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions is expected within a decade,” they wrote.

Primark’s environmental and labour practices have previously garnered headlines after it agreed to pay compensation to hundreds of workers at one of its suppliers after a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed in 2013, killing more than a thousand people. Brands including Mango and Bonmarché had also sourced products from the factory.

Parent company AB Foods raised its annual profit target on Monday, despite sales at its flagship retailer falling short of expectations. Sales have begun to bounce back in recent weeks after being hit by the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, according to the company, while markdowns and lower labour costs, by not replacing departing staff, helped boost profits. Fast-fashion rivals Inditex, which owns Zara, and H&M, which on Wednesday both reported sales recovering from the pandemic hit, have pledged to make all of their products from sustainable materials before the end of the decade.

The article has been summarised and the original full article can be found at ft.com

(Photo: REUTERS)

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