As an international retailer with a complex supply chain we make a real effort to reduce our impact on the planet wherever we can. The work of Primark’s Environmental Sustainability team covers many things; how raw materials such as cotton are sourced, the environmental impact of manufacturing processes in factories, the efficiency of Primark stores and our commitment to recycle wherever possible. It all makes a difference.
Some things we’ve been doing for longer than others. For example, our customers have been showing off our brown paper bags for years. We also have a longstanding partnership with the children’s charity Newlife in which we donate unsold items from our European stores, and our buying samples. In doing so, we’re able to reduce the number of unsold items that could end up in landfill, whilst helping Newlife to raise money.
Our work with partners is an important part of how we make progress in tackling big sustainability challenges. For example, we are reviewing the type of chemicals used to dye materials that our clothes are made from through the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals programme. We’re also a member of industry-wide initiatives such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to work together to improve supply chain sustainability.
We want to minimise the amount of packaging used to transport Primark items. We ask factories to consider the packaging they use carefully, and to avoid wrapping items individually. This reduces the overall amount of material used when our products are shipped to our stores. It’s not only better for the environment, but it’s one of the ways we keep costs low.
Hiru is one of thousands of female farmers in rural India to have taken part in our Sustainable Cotton Programme. Hiru has learnt new sustainable farming methods which helped her to increase her cotton yield and income.
“Before we used whatever chemical the shop sold us...now we think about what we spray. We use buffalo dung as fertiliser. It’s less expensive. Our income has increased four times.”
At Primark, we sell a range of products - from simple white t-shirts to bright patterned dresses. To create the colourful fabrics needed for some items, factories use dyes. Many dyes contain chemicals which do not impact the environment, but this isn’t the case for all. As part of our membership of the ZDHC group, we are supporting factories to phase out the use of certain chemicals in our supply chain by 2020.
We donate unsold clothes from our European stores and buying samples to the charity Newlife, who collect, sort and recycle them. This stops our products ending up in landfill sites, and enables Newlife to raise vital funds for its work supporting children with disabilities and their families.
Our iconic brown paper bags have been seen on high streets since 2002. They are made from recycled cardboard.