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John Lewis work to develop new sustainable clothing plan

2nd March 2016

Melanie Harper

One of Comply Direct's most esteemed members John Lewis is working to develop its sustainability programme as part of a wider work under WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP).

John Lewis have been working with WRAP since 2012 and are currently working on how it can minimise sampling and shipping of garments between suppliers to ensure that this poses as small an impact on the environment as possible. To John Lewis sustainability is hugely important, something which is evident in their 2016 statement which states that they are set to be “making a big effort in engaging our design team further in sustainability.”

ECAP

Whilst improvements are being made to John Lewis’s sustainability approach, WRAP are renewing their action plan on clothing. Leigh Mapledoram, programme area manager for sustainable textiles at WRAP, said: “WRAP is taking the principles of SCAP to develop a pan-European framework that aims to deliver a more sustainable clothing sector – the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP).

With ECAP, retailers, brands and suppliers are being encouraged to commit to the target-based action plan to bring environmental and economic benefits across the sector and the EU. The initiative has been in place since last year (September 2015) and is due to run until March 2019.

Sustainability

John Lewis are one of a group of retailers who have worked with WRAP to develop its sustainability programmes. Led by WRAP, the SCAP aims to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle by bringing together industry, government and the third sector.

In 2013, the SCAP 2020 Commitment was launched for leading sector companies to pledge to measure and reduce their environmental footprint. The charity also released the Sustainable Clothing Guide in December 2015, supported by John Lewis, which outlined ways in which the clothing industry can help to manufacture more durable clothes. Sustainable sourcing manager at John Lewis, Eoghan Griffin said: “Without the help of SCAP, we wouldn’t have really known what to do and what actions to take. So there’s knowledge in there for the entire industry to take on board.

A lot of the time it’s about making simple changes around washing and caring for your clothes and changes to the technical aspects of the garment. There are lessons for the whole industry to learn.

With the support of SCAP, we’re really pleased with the work that’s been happening. We’re feeling positive about further improvements we can make in 2016.”

The fashion industry

Although WRAP appreciates all support, it has been explicitly expressed that there is still a long way to go. The fashion industry should be manufacturing for durability, said Mr Mapledoram. “At a time when many clothing business models are based on frequent, low-cost purchases, this may seem counter-productive. However, this view misses the business opportunity that comes with taking the lead."

"While manufacturing for durability will not be right for all garment types, most brands and retailers will have core product ranges where a focus on designing to withstand wear and tear, and to appealing to the customer for longer, will help them to promote brand loyalty, confidence, and customer satisfaction,” she added.

John Lewis’s focus on sustainability should pave the way for other companies to move in the same direction. Comply Direct believe in a sustainable future and commend John Lewis’s efforts to build towards that goal. We are looking forward to watching more of our members follow in John Lewis’s footsteps.

For help on your sustainability journey, get in touch with one of our experts today.