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Current Sustainability in Retail
What makes consumers love a brand?
The answer to that question is complicated and multi-faceted. Factors include price, products, brand story or customer service. However, another factor is gaining in importance, especially in the last five years: sustainability.
It is becoming clear brands within the consumer goods industries that haven’t started taking corporate sustainability seriously are already lagging. Eventually, brands without corporate sustainability policies will face higher costs, slower growth and eventually, a loss of consumers as they turn to other, more sustainable brands.
So, what should leaders within the consumer goods industry be aware of when it comes to sustainability? In this series of articles, we explore all aspects of sustainability. For a start, here is some information on the current state of sustainability in retail.
Current sustainability in retail
From a recent Pulse of the Fashion Industry report from the Global Fashion Agenda, fashion generates 4% of the world’s waste each year, or 92 million tons. This is waste from all aspects of fashion, from production, throughout the supply chain, all the way to finished product.
Major retail brands have recently faced fire over unsustainable practices when it comes to unsold stock. Reaction to practices such as this has been swift and condemning, as businesses face an increasingly informed and aware consumer.
However, major fast fashion brands, and their large volumes of waste still exist and do well. But as a counterpoint, many small, independent labels have popped up, with missions to only produce clothes in small batches with as little waste as possible, or to only make products using waste from these larger brands.
The major giants in the retail world still aren’t taking a hit from these small brands, but time will tell: eventually those that do not implement sustainability strategies, may fall behind.
Recycling and retail
When one talks about sustainability, recycling on the side of the consumer is one solution that comes to mind. However, recycling alone isn’t enough. According to research, around 100% of textiles and clothing are recyclable, but only about 15% of consumer-used clothing is actually recycled. Additionally, reports from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggest that “global clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years with garments on average being worn much less and discarded quicker than ever before.”
Corporate sustainability, therefore, needs to rely less on consumer responsibility and turn towards looking up the value chain, to see what can be improved on the side of businesses in the industry.