Helping our suppliers follow suit
At New Look, we build long term relationships with our suppliers. We encourage them to adopt more efficient ways of managing their environmental resources, helping to ensure a sustainable future. We do this by working together with other retail brands to explain the business benefits for making improvements. When a factory has positively reduced their environmental impact, we make sure these success stories are shared.
Each supplier faces a different mix of environmental challenges. These can include unstable energy supply and rising power costs, the potential for air and water pollution and the disposal of waste materials.
We work to understand the different impacts suppliers have on the environment. Once we understand this, we can then help them to make improvements.
In this way, our suppliers benefit from lower factory operating costs, reduced risk of production line disruption and an improved reputation as cleaner and more efficient factories.
Below are some examples of how our programmes in China and Bangladesh have helped factories improve environmental performance.
Textile Industry Sustainability Platform
In China, we initiated a multi-brand project, the Textile Industry Sustainability Platform (TISP). This is an online guide for factories, apparel brands and their partners on how to introduce their own environmental practices. TISP is a free resource of sustainability best practice which promotes the business case for energy efficiency. It describes how to manage energy, outlines energy efficiency measures that textile factories can implement, and tells the story of four factories which have already implemented energy efficiency programmes.
To learn more about TISP and read case studies of how factories are becoming more energy efficient, visit www.tisp.asia
Communicating environmental benefits to suppliers
December 2012, we organised an Environment Training Conference in Shanghai to discuss environmental issues with 60 of our key Chinese suppliers and factories. The New Look team, industry experts and Eco-factory managers all outlined the benefits of adopting more environmentally efficient production practices. These sessions were well received by the audience and we are planning more environment training days this year, in both China and Bangladesh.
International Finance Corporation Cleaner Production Programme
In Bangladesh we’re part-funding our suppliers to participate in the International Finance Corporations (IFC) Cleaner Production programme.
This programme focuses on efficient water management practices in both water consumption and quality of water drainage.
The programme works collaboratively with factories to help them understand their current patterns of water consumption and water drainage and enables them to create a water footprint report. From this, they can decide to invest in new, simple technologies which increase water efficiency. For example, factories can benefit from attaching nozzles to water pipes to restrict the flow of water when it's not needed. This reduces consumption, waste and also the cost of buying water, which allows factories to speedily pay back their investment cost.
Following a successful pilot with one of our key supplier factories last year, another three supplier factories in Bangladesh have now joined the programme and we are encouraging more to join.
Our Environmental Scorecard
The results of our work in China and Bangladesh have encouraged us to share environmental best practice with all our suppliers in these countries.
To do this, we’re piloting an environmental scorecard. The scorecard allows us to understand the main environmental impacts of our supply chain and gives participating factories the data they need to become more efficient.
The scorecard is a series of questions about how suppliers manage their environmental impacts. It asks questions about how much fuel, materials, water and chemicals are consumed at each factory. We’ve scored twenty factories already, and we’re continuing to roll the scorecard out across Asia.
Looking to the future
Our focus to date has been to engage our direct suppliers - the factories and people that make and supply our products. However, we know that many of the biggest environmental impacts take place up-stream. For instance at the mills and dye houses that produce our fabric, or the plating and casting factories that make components for our jewellery.
By learning more about these process and their environmental impacts we can continue to improve these processes and achieve our goals.
Earlier in the year we conducted a mapping exercise of our jewellery supply chain in China. We’ve since widened the study and are now engaged in research to help us understand the key environmental impacts across our business from raw material sourcing, all the way through to the final manufacturing process. The findings will inform our on going sustainability projects with our suppliers for the rest of this year and beyond.