F&F: Sustainable Fabrics

Cotton

 

We are aware that the textile industry can have a negative impact on the local and social environments where they are made. That is why it is our aim to ensure that the fabrics we choose to make our products with are sourced responsibly and sustainably.

Our aim is to have 100% of the cotton we use in all Tesco products to be sourced sustainably (Better Cotton, organic and recycled) by 2025.

Cotton is the biggest raw material we use which affects thousands of cotton farmers around the world. To help those cotton farmers, we are working to ensure that our cotton has a minimal impact on the environment and that the people producing it get a better deal.

Each year our F&F team procures approximately 28,000 metric tonnes of cotton lint and in our 2018 ranges 88% of the cotton we sourced was produced sustainably, the majority through the Better Cotton Initiative*.

Producing Better Cotton has real economic, social and environmental benefits. Farmers can achieve the following;

Mindful BCI infographic

BCO BetterCotton.org logo

*Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products. However, BCI Farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in equivalent volumes to those we ‘source.’

In 2017, we signed the “Sustainable Cotton Communique” to help source 100% more sustainable cotton by 2025, along with many other brands and retailers. 

By working together with other like-minded brands, retailers and suppliers who are committed to transparency and sustainable sourcing, we hope that a significant social and environmental benefit will be achieved wherever cotton is grown. 

It is our goal that sustainable cotton simply becomes the new standard for cotton growing. Our customers can be confident that any cotton product they buy from us is made from sustainably sourced cotton.

Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017

The Sustainable Cotton Ranking report, created by Pesticide Action Network (UK), Solidaridad and WWF, assesses companies who have significant cotton use, and therefore, will have a prominent role in influencing sustainable cotton practices. Of the 75 companies assessed, Tesco ranks 12th.

For more information, please see the report here.

Cellulosic Fibres

To ensure the viscose that goes into our F&F clothing is sourced sustainably in 2016 we signed up to the CanopyStyle initiative. This is an industry-wide pledge that has been signed by over 100 fashion brands and retailers to end the use of endangered and ancient forests in the viscose supply chain.

Recycled Fibres

For 2019, we have introduced recycled polyester into some of our menswear, essentials and school wear garments.  By doing this we have recycled over 26 million plastic bottles.

Currently, the formal uniforms worn by our store colleagues are all made from 100% recycled polyester, which has a lower environmental impact than virgin polyester.

Sustainable fabrics infographic

Traceability

We have been building supply chain traceability since 2013, including identifying where all our fabric comes from through our internationally based fabric team.

Countries Tesco buy from

Environment

At F&F, we believe in offering our customers great quality affordable fashion as well as reducing our environmental impact. Our customers trust that we source and produce all of our products in a responsible and ethical way. Through our own actions and collaboration with suppliers all over the world, we are taking positive steps to reduce the impact of chemicals on the environment, use water and energy efficiently, and help customers to recycles textiles.

Eliminating harmful chemicals

One of the biggest positive impacts we can have is by eliminating harmful chemicals used in the production of clothes. According to Greenpeace, the textile industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally, and responsible for 20 percent of all freshwater pollution. They point to over 3500 chemical substances used to produce textiles and estimate that 10 percent of these are hazardous to human health or the environment.

Our approach

The foundation of our approach is to build greater visibility and understanding of the chemicals used in our global supply chains, some of which have been identified as hazardous. We then apply a precautionary principle, avoiding substances when they may harm the environment or health even when the type or magnitude of harm is not yet known.

We have taken a systematic approach to chemical management in our F&F business, with three main elements:

1. Transitioning from a focus on outputs (i.e. limiting pollution) to a focus on inputs (e.g. better chemical management and the use of safer alternatives).
2. Using our strong relationships with suppliers to improve performance and transparency.
3. Working with industry and sector initiatives to drive best practice.

Restricting Substances

We established our first Restricted Substances List (RSL) in 2008, outlining permitted levels for key chemicals. This list has helped us improve the chemical impact of finished garments, and protect workers and consumers by removing chemicals of concern. In line with the industry-wide Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) initiative, our approach now also focuses on the chemicals used in manufacturing stages, known as the Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL). When combined, these lists form our Restricted Substances in Textiles, Leather & Footwear List (RSiT) which is at the heart of our current approach.

Supply chain capacity building

Our suppliers hold the key to reducing the environmental impact of chemicals, so it is critical that we fully support them. We continue to work with our suppliers to gain transparency upstream and commit to have visibility where we source our products and materials. We regularly visit our fabric mills and wet processing facilities around the world to support them to improve their standards and adapt best practices. Through training, workshops and online resources on our supplier network platform, we are able to strengthen our relationships, build their capacity and reach out to our supply chain more efficiently and effectively to address specific challenges.

Industry collaboration

The scale and complexity of the issue means that this is not something we can achieve on our own, so we are working collaboratively with stakeholders in the industry to have a significant impact across our supply chain and to address systemic challenges. F&F is a signatory of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation and supports the mission to advance towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in the textile, leather and footwear value chain to improve the environment and people's well-being.

In June 2017 we also announced our commitment to the Greenpeace DETOX campaign. In addition to specific timelines for phasing out certain chemical groups, our individual DETOX action plan includes increased transparency about which suppliers we use and their performance in phasing out the use of hazardous chemicals.

Further details about our DETOX commitment

List of which chemicals we restrict in our supply chain

Our latest chemical management progress report

The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 Commitment

We are part of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), a collaborative initiative led by WRAP which aims to revolutionise the clothing industry, using collective action to minimise the environmental impact of our clothes. Along with over 30 other UK retailers we have committed to the following targets by 2020;

15%

Carbon footprint reduction

15%

Water footprint reduction

3.5%

Waste reduction across the whole product life-cycle

Policy on sandblasting

Sandblasting is used on denim and other fabrics to create a fashionable worn or used look. The process involves firing sand, powder or other small particles at high speed on to the fabric and creates high levels of dust in the atmosphere. Since 2010 we have banned sandblasting both in the production of our garments and at sites where our garments are made.

Saving water and energy

Textile washing, dyeing, and finishing use large amounts of water and energy, which we are committed to reducing. We signed up to the Partnership for Cleaner Textiles Programme in Bangladesh; a multi-stakeholder group with the shared goal to establish world class water, energy and chemical management practices that will benefit everyone. Since starting this programme in 2013, eleven of our mills have implemented recommended changes and as a result each year they have collectively saved 2.1 million cubic meters of water and 154,851 MWh of energy. We continue to support the second phase of this program in 2018 aiming to include more factories and further improve their performance.

Recycling

Our customers care about the environment, which is why we make it easier for them to use our stores and car parks for recycling. Each year, customers recycle around 11,000 tons of textiles and footwear on our sites.

In April 2019 we are launching clothing take back trial in 87 stores across the country. The F&F take back initiative will to make it easier for customers to dispose of their unwanted clothing, shoes and textiles responsibly. Customers will be able to donate clothing, shoes and textiles that are from any brand and of any quality in our conveniently located collection units at the front of store. 

We are working in partnership with SOEX UK, who will collect the donations and sort them into three categories;

Rewear – any items that can be worn again will be given a new life in a worldwide second hand market.

Reuse – Any items not suitable to wear again are converted into other products, such as cleaning cloths or mops.

Recycle – any textiles that cannot be reused will be recycled into secondary raw materials and used to manufacture new textile fibres or insulation materials in the car industry.

This means nothing is wasted or sent to landfill.

SOEX UK will also pay £150 per tonne collected directly to the Tesco National Charity Partners - British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK in equal proportions.

In all our stores we donate items that we have been unable to sell and any returns, that cannot be resold, to charities (Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Newlife). This has raised millions of pounds for the charities, helping them to continue their vital work.

If you are interested in finding out more about how you could reduce your environmental impact at home while saving money, please look at the Love Your Clothes website.

Since 2009, we have also been recycling our clothes hangers in the UK (by using them again or having them converted into other products). In doing so we have prevented 8417 metric tonnes of plastic going to landfill.