Primark has today unveiled a wide-reaching sustainability strategy, designed to reduce fashion waste, halve carbon emissions across its value chain and improve the lives of the people who make Primark products.
The new strategy commits the international fashion retailer to change the way its clothes are made without changing its affordable prices, enabling everyone to make more sustainable choices when shopping.
Primark’s new commitments will see the company ensure all its clothing is made from recycled or more sustainably sourced materials by 2030 – today this accounts for 25 per cent of all clothes sold. As a next step, all men’s, women’s and kids’ entry price point t-shirts will transition to being made with sustainably sourced cotton over the next year.
Primark will make changes to its design process as it looks to ensure its clothes can be recycled at the end of their life to help reduce fashion waste. It is also committed to improving the durability of its clothing so it can be loved and worn for longer, including working to define new industry guidelines on durability with WRAP, the UK charity committed to accelerating the fashion industry’s move to circularity.
Commenting on the global strategy launch, Primark CEO, Paul Marchant, said: “This is a new and exciting chapter in the Primark story. Our ambition is to offer customers the affordable prices they know and love us for, but with products that are made in a way that is better for the planet and the people who make them. We know that’s what our customers, and our colleagues, want and expect from us.
“This isn’t the start of our journey. We’ve been working to become a more sustainable and ethical business for over 10 years. One in four of all the clothes we sell already come from our Primark Cares range of products made from recycled or more sustainably sourced materials. Our new commitments mark a significant acceleration in the pace and scale of change, requiring us to think differently about how we do business. Right from how our clothes are designed and manufactured, through to how we sell them in stores.
“We don’t have all the answers and we know we can’t do it alone. We’re committed to work in partnership with the industry to drive real change at scale.”
The new strategy builds on the work Primark has undertaken over the last ten years. Informed by experts from across the industry, it covers Primark’s own operations, as well as its global supply chain. The strategy expands on commitments the business has already made as a signatory to major industry initiatives. These include Textiles 2030, the WRAP initiative to accelerate the fashion and textile industry’s move towards circularity and system change in the UK. The business is also a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to inform its journey towards circularity, including making all its clothes recyclable by design.
Alongside changing the way its clothes are made, Primark will work with its suppliers to cut carbon emissions by half throughout its value chain, contributing to industry level transformation. It will also eliminate single-use plastics in its own operations, building on the more than 500 million items removed already.
Primark will expand its Sustainable Cotton Programme, already the largest of its kind in the fashion industry, and train farmers to use more regenerative farming practices, building on sustainable practices such as using less water and fewer chemicals. This will be done through its partnership with CottonConnect, using the industry-leading REEL Regenerative Code to enhance biodiversity, adapt to climate change and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
The retailer will build on its established ethical trade initiatives and existing partnership with ACT to improve the lives of the people who make its clothes by pursuing a living wage for workers in its supply chain and investing in programmes that provide greater opportunities for women.
Paul Marchant added: “We believe that sustainability shouldn’t be priced at a premium that only a minority can afford. Because of who we are, we believe we have the opportunity to make more sustainable fashion choices affordable to all.”
Primark will use its 397 stores across 14 countries to share more information with customers about the changes it is making with its ‘How Change Looks’ campaign. It will also make it easier for customers to make changes themselves with initiatives ranging from expanding the number of recycling bins in stores to collect and recycle clothing at the end of its life, to educating consumers on techniques to lengthen the lifespan of their wardrobe – from sewing skills to guidance on washing practices.
The business will report back annually on its progress. For more information on the strategy and the nine commitments Primark is making across People, Planet and Product visit www.primark.com/howchangelooks