More sustainable materials
Choosing the right materials is an essential part of our circular fashion strategy, as our ultimate goal is for the materials we use to continually sustain the fashion cycle.
We select more sustainable materials that promote circularity whenever possible.
Choosing more sustainable materials means selecting high quality materials that are ethically sourced, emphasizing recycled materials and considering whether materials and finished garments lend themselves to recycling or to a decomposition process that nourishes the environment.
It also means supporting our suppliers to implement innovative and sustainable processes to produce more sustainable materials.
We label our more sustainable styles in stores with hangtags, e.g. organic, recycled. In our E-shop, we created a sustainability corner “ESPRIT ECOLLECTION”.
Repartition of fibers used in our products:
More sustainable cotton
Target: 100% more sustainable cotton by July 2021
Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals
Cotton is our favourite material, used in around 56 % of our products. Cotton generally has reliable quality performance, it is versatile, breathable, and is very comfortable to wear.
However, conventional cotton growing methods often require large quantities of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, which can harm the environment. In addition, cotton growing requires a lot of water, which is an increasingly scarce natural resource in many cotton-producing regions. In order to improve the environmental profile of cotton, we have identified three more sustainable cotton options: Better Cotton, organic cotton and recycled cotton.
We became a member of the Better Cotton Initiative in February 2016. The Better Cotton Initiative is a non-profit organization that takes a holistic approach to sustainable cotton production. The initiative trains cotton farmers on how to best manage the environmental, social and economic aspects of cotton production. It supports the people who grow cotton to implement more environmentally-friendly cultivation methods that also help farmers reduce costs and increase profits.
Organic cotton is grown according to strict standards, without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Currently, less than 1% of the world’s total cotton production is grown organically, making it difficult to source organic cotton in large quantities. However, we still consider it to be a crucial part of our multifaceted strategy to use more sustainable cotton, and so we have increased the use of organic cotton in our collections. We are using the Organic Content Standard and the Global Organic Textile Standard to trace and certify our organic cotton. Both standards verify the presence and amount of organically grown materials in a final garment by tracking the chain of custody from the certified field to the end product. The prerequisite for labeling a product with our "Organic" hangtag is the presence of at least 20 % organic cotton in the product.
We focus on increasing the use of recycled cotton, which comes from both post- and pre-consumer waste. Post-consumer waste means that the cotton is sourced from other products that have already had a first life, for example old garments that have been donated. Pre-consumer waste includes cutting scraps from production. The aim is to keep both kinds of waste out of landfill. We use the Recycled Claim Standard and the Global Recycling Standard to accurately represent the presence and amount of recycled material in our finished garments. The prerequisite for labeling a product with our "Recycled" hangtag is the presence of at least 20 % recycled cotton in the product.
Polyester, polyamide and acrylic are the most commonly used synthetic fibers at Esprit . They are often used in functional sportswear and blends with cellulosic or man-made fibers, as they can be used in a variety of ways. These synthetic fibers generally have a high wearing comfort, they dry fast after washing or sweating and they are warming respectively cooling well.
However, conventional synthetic fibers are derived from petroleum, which is not a renewable resource, and it is also not biodegradable. Another issue that we continue to monitor is microplastic pollution. Small pieces of synthetic fibers can be released during washing, ultimately ending up in oceans where they can pose a danger to wildlife and the environment as a whole.
We are working to decrease the amount of synthetic fibers we are using and to instead select more sustainable options wherever possible.
More sustainable synthetics
Target: 30% more sustainable synthetic fibers by July 2021
More sustainable synthetic down
Target: 100 % of the synthetic down we use is made from recycled or biodegradable materials by July 2021
Remark: We have just started the transition to recycled polyester filling end of FY17/18
Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals
Recycled synthetic fibers
Ongoing research and innovation is leading to the development of new bio-based polyesters, as well as polyesters that are designed to decompose at rates similar to natural fibers. However, most of these innovations have not yet been scaled to the point that we are able to incorporate them. So our focus, currently, is on increasing our use of recycled synthetic fibers.
A common source for recycled polyester is used PET bottles. This reduces waste and emissions, and encourages more thoughtful material selection. As polyester fleece is often used in padded jackets, we have made the decision to switch our polyester fleece to recycled options. Esprit uses the Recycled Claim Standard and the Global Recycling Standard to ensure recycled materials are indeed being used. Both standards affirm the presence and amount of recycled material in a finished garment. The prerequisite for labeling a product with our "Recycled" hangtag is the presence of at least 20 % recycled synthetic fibers in the product.
Using recycled PET bottles however does not exactly close the loop , as the raw materials come from external sources. This is why we are investigating into opportunities to reuse recycled synthetic fibers coming from our own collections.
More sustainable man-made cellulosic fibers
Man-made cellulosic materials, such as viscose, modal and lyocell are manufactured artificial fibers.The raw material is derived from natural sources of cellulose, often trees, and then a chemical process is applied to extract the cellulose and spin it into a fiber that can be woven or knitted. In comparison to conventional synthetic fibers, such as polyester, cellulosic fibers are biodegradable. But there are several other key sustainability considerations when working with cellulosics, including sustainable farming and cleaner manufacturing. Taking all of these factors into consideration, we have increased our use of two specific kinds of cellulosic fiber: Lyocell and more sustainable viscose.
Target: 30% more sustainable man-made cellulosic fibers by July 2021
Baseline FY17/18: 7% of all man-made cellulosics are made of lyocell and less than 1% is ECOVERO™
Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals
We are starting to integrate a new viscose fiber called ECOVERO™ which is made by LENZING™. This material stands out from conventional viscose because it has a lower footprint in terms of emissions and water use, and the cellulose is derived from renewable trees that come from certified, responsibly managed forests. Traceability from the forest to the final product is also achievable through special identification technology.
LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose fibers are certified with the EU Ecolabel, signifying that they result in lower environmental impact throughout the full lifecycle, from raw material extraction to production, distribution and disposal.
Lyocell is a material made mostly from eucalyptus trees. It is considered a more sustainable option because eucalyptus trees grow more quickly compared to other trees commonly used as sources for cellulose, and they require minimal water and pesticides. The resulting fiber is also biodegradable. Around 10% of our products with cellulose fibers are made with Lyocell.
In order to responsibly source cellulosic fabrics, the cellulose needs to come from properly managed forests, as opposed to endangered or old-growth forests. We partnered with the environmental non-profit organization CanopyStyle in September of 2015 to ensure that our cellulose fabrics are not sourced from at-risk or old-growth forests.
To identify areas of potential sourcing risk, we are using Canopy ForestMapper. This interactive tool visually represents ancient and endangered forests at a global scale and includes information on numerous ecological values divided into four categories: forests, species, carbon and landscapes.
Canopy is also partnering with global non-profit organization The Rainforest Alliance to audit global producers of man-made cellulosic fibers, verifying that producers are meeting the robust criteria set by Canopy regarding cellulose sources. We use these audits as a reference point when implementing our Canopy commitment.
We support a future that does not exploit ancient and endangered forests to create man-made cellulosic fabric. For more information, please see Esprit’s Policy on Protecting Forests through Fabric Choices.
More sustainable viscose production
At the end of May 2018, we committed to the Roadmap Towards Responsible Viscose as outlined by the Changing Markets Foundation. We defined steps we will take to further promote and improve the sustainable production of viscose and modal fibers. Beyond committing to clearly communicate our procurement requirements to our suppliers, we will evaluate both the environmental impact of the production process and the social impacts on the suppliers along the whole supply chain. Our goal with this commitment is to push the wider industry to adopt a closed-loop manufacturing process in order to minimize the use of harmful chemicals.
Additionally, we have worked on a greater transparency in our viscose supply chain. We’ve done this by mapping our viscose producers, which are part of our Tier 3 supplier network. The results have been published from August 2018 onwards in our publicly available supplier list.
Another way we are working to improve viscose production is through our participation in the Task Team for Man Made Cellulosic Fibers, launched by the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Group in the beginning of 2018. Through this joint effort, which includes brands, viscose producers and various other industry stakeholders, we are developing tools and protocols to improve viscose manufacturing.