More sustainable design and raw materials

A Zara designer making a sketch at the brand’s head office in Arteixo (A Coruña).

The production of responsible clothing begins with its design and the selection of more sustainable textile fibres, such as those from organic or recycled sources. In the production of our clothing, we promote the use of raw materials containing fibres with environmental benefits that help protect and conserve biodiversity, such as organic cotton, TENCEL® Lyocell and recycled cotton and polyester. This allows us to reduce the environmental impact associated with growing and producing conventional fibres.

The use of more sustainable raw materials has grown, thanks to the awareness and training of our commercial teams

In recent years, the use of more sustainable raw materials has grown, thanks to the awareness and training of our commercial teams and suppliers on the advantages offered by this type of fibre compared with conventional fibres.

Organic cotton

Organic cotton is a raw material that protects biodiversity and reduces the environmental impacts associated with traditional cotton production, guaranteeing that no genetically-modified seeds are used, nor any pesticides or artificial fertilizers.

During 2015, we placed 34 million items of clothing using certified 100% organic cotton onto the market. This translates into a consumption of 4,219 tonnes of organic cotton and represents an increase of 318% by weight from last year. As a result, we have become the world’s ninth biggest consumer of organic cotton(*).

The Inditex Group is a founding member of the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), a multi-sector initiative set up to promote a prosperous organic cotton sector that benefits all stakeholders from the producer to the consumer. The objective is to create a robust market, encouraging fairness at every stage of the value chain and promoting the use of organic cotton.

Over the next two years, the OCA will focus on establishing a prototype that defines an appropriate business model for producers and developing a traceability system that will enhance the integrity of the organic cotton supply chain.

In addition, Inditex works closely with international initiatives, such as Textile Exchange and Better Cotton Initiative, on projects to support farming communities in India and China.

(*) Source: Organic Cotton Market Report.

As well as certified organic cotton, a raw material we used in 34 million items in 2015, over recent years we have also started introducing other sustainable or recycled materials into our collections, such as TENCEL® Lyocell or recycled cotton and polyesters, which provide a considerable reduction in water consumption and energy, as well as reducing natural resources consumption and waste generation.

TENCEL® Lyocell is a fibre derived from the cellulose extracted from trees grown in woods with a sustainable forestry certificate and via a highly efficient closed process. Water consumption in the production process for recycled cotton is approximately 80% lower than in traditional cotton production, while the polyester recycling process considerably reduces water and energy consumption.

Commitment to improve chemical products

To guarantee the health and safety of the products sold by Inditex, R&D programmes are in place to detect and replace certain processes and substances in order to achieve the highest environmental quality. The result of this policy of preventive action is The List, by Inditex, which began in 2013 as a pioneering global programme with the aim of improving the quality of chemical products used in the manufacture of textile and leather items. To create The List, Inditex works proactively and in collaboration with the chemical industry to monitor the quality of chemical products and to make progressive improvements to their manufacture in order to guarantee that garments are healthy and sustainable – even before they are designed.

The List, by Inditex programme is the result of a broad research project in partnership with the University of Santiago de Compostela and a close working relationship with the world’s major manufacturers of dyes, pigments and auxiliary chemical products used in the production of textile and leather goods. This programme has already achieved success in the shape of global classification for thousands of dyes, pigments and auxiliary chemical products used in the production of textile items, footwear and accessories, according to their compliance with Clear to Wear. Currently, The List, by Inditex includes more than 14,000 analysed and classified chemicals, representing more than 85% of the global market in these products.

Advances in the Forest Products Policy

Since the publication of the Forest Products Policy in 2014, we have been working with our supply chain to ensure that the raw materials we use from forest sources all come from sustainably managed woods. In addition, we give preference to procuring forest products with a high proportion of recycled and post-consumer waste material, and encourage our suppliers to maintain, improve and increase their offering of this type of product.

We work to ensure that all our forest-based raw materials are sourced from sustainably managed woods

As founders of the Textile Leaders Group for Forest Protection, together with the organization Canopy Planet and other brands from the sector, we work with suppliers of forest-based synthetic fibres (MMCF) such as viscose, modal or lyocell. Through this collaboration, we aim to fulfil our objective of guaranteeing that by 2017 none of the synthetic fibres used in our products originate from primary or protected forests. Currently, nine of the main suppliers of these fibres, which represent 65% of the production of viscose worldwide, have adopted policies in line with our own. In addition, two of the main producers are expected to complete a third-party verification process in 2016.

All of the paper products and furnishings used in our activities are certified under the PEFC or FSC seals, guaranteeing that the entire process of forestry management is carried out in a sustainable and accountable way.

PFC-free products

We also work towards our zero discharge commitment through the Perfluorocarbons Free Policy. This policy, which is obligatory for all of our suppliers, requires all perfluorocarbon (PFC) compounds to be removed from the water-resistant finishes of our products. We also inform our suppliers of the alternatives to PFCs that are available on the market. During 2015, we worked closely with 90 suppliers to promote the substitution of these undesirable substances with more sustainable products.

Animal welfare policy

Inditex applies responsible production standards to its products with regard to the use of products of animal origin. None of Inditex’s retail formats sell fur products. Since 2013, Inditex has been a member of the Fur Free Retailer Program by the Fur Free Alliance. In 2015, Inditex permanently banned the production and sale of angora upon an agreement with PETA organization (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Collaboration with international initiatives

Inditex works closely with international initiatives such as Textile Exchange and Better Cotton Initiative, with the aim of promoting the production of more sustainable raw materials. As a result of these partnerships, we help to finance agricultural projects in China and India (Mecilla Project in the Chinese province of Shanxi, and the Chetna and BCI projects in India). In all of these, ecological agriculture is encouraged, with the development of seeds that are suitable for organic cultivation, training of farmers in ecological techniques, sustainable management of natural resources, and responsible use of chemical products such as pesticides and fertilizers. These programmes help to guarantee the conservation and supply of organic cotton seeds, improve living conditions for producers and their families, and generate a positive impact on the environment.