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January 15, 2020

Debenhams pledges new sustainability commitments

Department store retailer Debenhams has outlined a new sustainability programme alongside a series of new commitments, including a guarantee that by September 2020 all own-brand product sold in a Debenhams store will have at least one sustainable attribute.

By Beth Wright

Department store retailer Debenhams has outlined a new sustainability programme alongside a series of new commitments, including a guarantee that by September 2020 all own-brand product sold in a Debenhams store will have at least one sustainable attribute.

The move is part of the company’s plans to set new benchmarks for UK department store retailing in the 2020s.

Its new commitments include:

  • 100% of its cotton requirement to be from sustainable sources by 2022.
  • All cotton garments in its Mantaray collection for the new 2020 season to be Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) sourced.
  • A guarantee that, by September 2020, all own brand product sold in a Debenhams store will have at least one sustainable attribute.
  • All lamination to be removed from swing tickets by December 2020.
  • All swing tickets to be sourced using FSCTM paper by December 2020.
  • An operational takeback scheme to be rolled out to every store this spring to recycle old stock and samples in partnership with the charity NewLife, which supports disabled and terminally ill children and their families.

To achieve these targets, Debenhams has tasked its sourcing, supply chain teams and manufacturing partners with pursuing more sustainable options across all its processes. It has set the specific objectives of sourcing sustainable packaging; reducing water and chemical use; reducing wastage and cost; and recycling and reusing materials wherever possible.

The retailer added the new targets build on the progress it has made in the last year which includes a 22% reduction in the amount of packaging it uses, sourcing more than 2m garments made from sustainable cotton, and reducing the number of clothes hangers sent from its stores to landfill to zero.

“As a senior leadership team, we are committed to examining everything we do with a more sustainable focus. There is still a lot for us to do but we made real progress in 2019,” said Debenhams’ director of stores, technology and supply chain, Angela Morrison.

Building on existing processes overlaid with these commitments will act as a platform for Debenhams to achieve its new sustainability goals, the retailer said.

“In 2019, consumers spent increasing amounts on well-being and experiences and their focus on ethical and sustainable retailing is rising. These trends look set to continue in 2020 – fortunately, department stores are well placed to cater for them. Our goal is that every product we sell should have at least one sustainable attribute,” added Steven Cook, Debenhams MD of fashion, home and beauty.

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