Slowing and closing the loop – to keep textiles in circulation
Sustainable fashion at Coop is based on a holistic approach: from the development of fashion ranges and selection of materials through production and sales to the recycling of used items of clothing. Benefiting both people and nature.
Around 2% of our total sales come from textiles. Of these, 47% are our own-label brands – with Coop Naturaline, Nulu and Sergio taking centre stage. When creating collections, not only do we influence aspects such as the cut, the pattern and the colour, but we also adhere to strict social and environmental standards along with our suppliers – thanks to the sustainable criteria that we apply to purchasing.
1. Sophisticated product development
In developing our Coop Naturaline, Nulu and Sergio clothing ranges, our focus is on timeless design and long-lasting fashion. Our products are easy to mix and match and can be worn for more than one season. Hence, our own-label brands stand out from short-lived, transitory fashion.
As early as the design phase, we are already thinking about how we can minimize the use of chemicals. Consequently, we exclude the use of all the chemical groups highlighted by Greenpeace, meaning that we only select materials, colours and prints that have been produced without any harmful chemicals. Switching to chemicals that comply with Detox standards continues to be a big challenge for the textile industry, and we promote this endeavour by raising awareness among our partners and suppliers. We have drawn up a Detox Manual for this purpose.
Coop Naturaline is synonymous with 100% organic cotton, 100% fair production, 100% transparency in the supply chain and 100% CO2 neutrality. We are the world’s second largest retailer of fair-trade organic cotton textiles. Our completely transparent production process is unique. Using a QR code and tracking number, anyone can trace an item of Coop Naturaline clothing from the origin of its cotton through to the manufacturer. Naturaline accounts for around a third of our sales in own-label textile brands.
For the Coop own-label brands Sergio and Nulu, we use sustainable cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative. As a cotton standard, the Better Cotton Initiative promotes fair, environmentally friendly cotton production. Our aim is to manufacture 80% of all own-label textile brands from sustainable cotton by 2020.
Stringent quality management
Quality management measures in relation to Naturaline, Sergio and Nulu also include spot checks during production. We inspect cutting dimensions for example, as well as shrinkage, colour-fastness during washing, abrasion, and pilling.
2. Production based on clear criteria
We take a holistic approach to implementing sustainability along the textile supply chains, which is why we insist on compliance with social and ecological requirements at all stages. High standards apply as far back as the raw material stage.
3. Sales – saying no to fast fashion
We believe that textile life cycles not only need to be closed, but also slowed down. Decelerating collections and short-lived trends is the basis for consuming textiles responsibly. Therefore, we focus on a standard range of basic items in terms of our own-label brands, and launch two collections each year featuring selected seasonal items. We are taking a conscious stance against fast fashion, particularly with Coop Naturaline, and we are trying to raise awareness among our customers with regard to sustainable fashion.
4. A gentle approach to textiles
Customers play a key role in the responsible use of textiles. By washing, ironing, drying and caring for them properly, they can not only influence the energy and water requirements of textiles during their life cycle but also ensure that textiles have a long life.
5. Reuse and recycle
We strongly believe in keeping wearable clothing in circulation for as long as possible and recycling them professionally at the end of their life. To do this in the most sensible way possible, we initiated a study on the environmental impact of reusing and recycling clothes, together with Quantis and in collaboration with Swiss textile collectors. According to our findings, passing on and reusing clothing items that are no longer worn by the original buyers makes the most sense from an environmental standpoint.
Long-term collaboration with Tell-Tex
Tell-Tex collection containers, which are located in over 500 Coop sales outlets, allow customers to donate old clothing and shoes for reuse. As such, we boast textile recycling facilities at almost all of our supermarkets.
Tell-Tex is a charitable organization that specializes in expertly collecting, sorting and recycling clothing. It sells these items and donates part of the proceeds to social projects. Via the Coop Sponsorship for Mountain Regions scheme, a share of the revenue is used to support Swiss mountain farmers and their families. In 2016, for example, Swiss farmers received financial help worth CHF 514,517.
6. Forward-looking research projects, e.g. Texcycle
Textile recycling often poses a challenge, especially when textile products are composed of different fibres. Mixed fibres, e.g. 98% cotton and 2% elasthane, are hard to make from recycled material. However, a mix of fibres is exactly what lends a textile product its comfort, quality and durability.
To advance textile cycling, we are supporting the “Texcycle” research project, which is being carried out by Texaid and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The aim of this project is to close textile life-cycle loops or make them more sustainable by upcycling and recycling textiles. This involves analysing and optimizing the processes for treating old clothing.