Zalando completes brand assessments as part of environmental disclosure drive

Online fashion retailer Zalando has disclosed its Tier 1 private fashion label suppliers in an efforts to drive transparency across the value chain, and is expecting brand partners to gain a full understanding of their key suppliers also.

Zalando completes brand assessments as part of environmental disclosure drive

Zalando’s online platform caters to 35 million customers in 17 markets

The German-based online retailer has set science-based targets to reduce operational carbon emissions by 80% by 2025, with carbon emissions from the production of private-label products set to be reduced by 40% in the same timeframe. Additionally, Zalando has committed to having 90% of its key supplier set their own science-based targets.

To encourage suppliers to improve environmental performance, Zalando announced a collaboration with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to use the Higg Brand & Retail Module (Higg BRM), a tool that provides retailers and brands with measures to assess performance around indicators such as carbon emissions, human rights and environmental parameters.

Through the collaboration, Zalando committed to gathering ethical and environmental data from its partner brands to understand the challenging areas and identify sustainability solutions on issues such as human rights, fair wages and carbon emissions.

In the initial assessment round targeting the first cluster of brands, Zalando received sustainability information from over 250 brands via the Higg BRM. The company has made sustainability assessments mandatory for all brands selling on the platform.

Additionally, the company has published all of its tier 1 private label suppliers via its own channels, as well as on the Open Apparel Registry (OAR). It is hoped this decision will spur the expectation that Zalando’s brand partners also gain full visibility of Tier 1 manufacturers.

“For the first time, we have comparable sustainability data at brand level which gives us the opportunity to jointly develop standards that move us forward as an industry,” Zalando’s sustainability director Kate Heiny said.

“Through the first results, we can see a big difference in perceived risks by brands. We have learned that we need to align on highlighting the importance of topics like greenhouse gas emissions to drive the most impactful change together.”

Zalando’s online platform caters to 35 million customers in 17 markets, and has committed to carbon neutrality in its own operations and all of its deliveries and returns. By 2023, Zalando will only work with partners who align its ethical and sustainable sourcing requirements.

The company is aiming to increase ethical sourcing standards as part of the firm’s Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) membership and generate 20% of Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) – total sales value for merchandise sold through the platform – from sustainable products.

On GMV, 260 million products fell into the sustainability category in 2019. Additionally, Zalando will design its packaging to minimise waste and eliminate single-use plastics by 2023. Zalando already uses boxes made from 100% recycled materials and shipping bags consisting of 80% recycled plastics. Beauty bags have also been switched to 100% recycled paper.

Matt Mace

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