Blog: Hannah AbdullaTackling greenhouse gas emissions in fashion supply chains

Hannah Abdulla | 3 August 2020

The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to global carbon emissions – making it imperative that fashion supply chains find more environmentally friendly ways of operating. The journey starts with the first step of understanding and measuring the impacts.

A new report has suggested that not enough is being done to counter the impact of the apparel sector on biodiversity loss.

Meanwhile, high-pressure tactics used by apparel and footwear brands and retailers during cost negotiations are not only impacting suppliers' profitability but also threaten their social and environmental sustainability too.

UK clothing and homewares retailer Next Plc has seen its sales stage a partial recovery in the second quarter after they were dealt a big blow during the coronavirus lockdown. Investment in online capabilities, warehouse capacity and a strong balance sheet have all helped, and the company is now confident of booking a full-year profit.

And Primark is to pay its suppliers in full for all outstanding finished goods and to utilise or pay for any finished fabric liabilities incurred before it closed all its stores in mid-March amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sri Lanka's government is being called upon to modernise and diversify the country's apparel and textile industry and ensure its survival amid the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

While, Cambodia's footwear industry has reiterated calls for the European Commission to postpone the partial withdrawal of the country's preferential access to the EU market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme – claiming the move will encourage buyers to shift sourcing from Cambodia to other countries.

Research is ramping up around the world to develop new technologies that tap into the growing demand for antimicrobial, virus and bacteria-killing fibres and fabrics generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the brands front, US sporting goods giant Nike Inc has backtracked on plans to invest in its Goodyear, Arizona, footwear-making facility.

And L Brands is the latest retailer to outline workforce reductions as the industry has been left reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Victoria's Secret-owner planning to cut its home office headcount by about 850 associates.

Online fast fashion retailer Boohoo has updated on the independent review of its UK supply chain amid the news it has completed the purchase of a 2.5-acre manufacturing site in Leicester – which it says signals a new stage in the company's commitment to UK manufacturing.

Hong Kong-based sourcing giant Li & Fung has secured a US$100m investment from Chinese e-commerce leader JD.com to speed the development of its digital supply chain as well as new private label initiatives for the Chinese domestic market.

And the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way Fung Group-owned Cobalt Knitwear is looking to the future, with customers now pushing harder on 3D virtual design and investment in antimicrobials seen as key to adding value to its yarns.

Sticking with technology, John Lewis & Partners says it is working to become digital-first as it looks to continue simplifying how the business works, with plans to add extra services outside of retail and consider acquisitions to grow the company.

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