The retail fashion firm has entered into a partnership with Water Footprint Network to analyse and tackle water use across its international value chain for the manufacture of cotton products.

The work will seek to address identified hot spots that arise during textile production, such as excessive use of water, or the use of environmentally harmful processes.

C&A particularly wants to examine and compare the levels of harmful pollutants that are released into the environment – specifically into fresh water – during conventional and organic cotton cultivation.

Studies already undertaken have shown that with conventional cultivation, the grey water footprint of cotton is about five times larger than if an organic method of cultivation is used. A primary contributor to the bigger water footprint is the use of chemical pesticides on conventional farms.

According to C&A’s head of sustainable business development Phil Chamberlain, the research will provide the company with some valuable insight.

“To this end, we are developing mandatory guidelines, instruments and trainings for our partners, cotton farmers and factory workers,” he said.

“Furthermore, C&A plans to work with other stakeholders and draw up possible solutions for pressing environmental issues, in order to achieve an overall improvement of water conditions worldwide.”

Sustainability has a long-standing tradition at C&A, and has been an integral part of corporate management for over 20 years.

In producing its clothing using environmentally friendly technologies, the fashion company is aiming to better control factors such as water consumption and treatment, or CO2 emissions.

Maxine Perella

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