Cooperation: C&A and the Water Footprint Network announce partnership to improve water sustainability of textile supply chain

Brussels/Enschede, 7th August 2013. The C&A Foundation, the fashion company C&A, and the Water Footprint Network (WFN) have published two new, trailblazing studies on the sustainable use of water, and on C&A’s own water footprint along the international value chain for the manufacture of cotton products. The studies identify the water use hot spots that arise during textile manufacturing, such as excessive use of water, or the use of environmentally harmful processes. On the basis of the studies’ results, C&A Foundation, C&A and the Water Footprint Network have agreed on a new three-year programme to further reduce the water footprint.

Cotton cultivation: Conventional vs. organic
As part of its CSR strategy, C&A particularly wanted 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. The Water Footprint Network’s ‘grey water footprint’ -served as an indicator for the level of water pollution from 480 farms in India. The studies showed 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 was the use of chemical pesticides on conventional farms.

“These studies have provided us with valuable insights that will help us to further reduce our water footprint along the entire value chain,” says Phil Chamberlain, Head of Sustainable Business Development and Board Member of C&A Foundation. “To this end, we are developing mandatory guidelines, instruments and trainings for our partners, cotton farmers and factory workers. 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.”

“C&A has understood from the start that sustainable apparel requires a sustainable supply chain and that the amount of water consumed and polluted, the water footprint of the supply chain, must be reduced to sustainable limits” said Ruth Mathews, Executive Director, Water Footprint Network. “With the help of the Water Footprint Network, C&A has taken on the daunting task of working with its suppliers to improve practices and reduce environmental impacts. These studies confirm the benefits of a move to organic cotton and shows that the water footprint of conventional farming can be reduced through improved farming practices.”

A tradition of sustainability
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.

About C&A Foundation
C&A Foundation, a charitable foundation based in Switzerland, aims to improve social, economic and ecological conditions along the cotton and apparel value chain. Committed to the communities in which C&A operates, the foundation also promotes local charitable initiatives, ultimately touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

About Water Footprint Network
Water Footprint Network was founded in 2008 by the University of Twente, WWF, UNESCO-IHE, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, International Finance Corporation, Netherlands Water Partnership, and Water Neutral Foundation. The organization’s mission is to promote the transition towards sustainable, fair and efficient use of freshwater resources worldwide by advancing the concept of the water footprint and its application through Water Footprint Assessment. Water Footprint Network is a dynamic, international learning community with hundreds of partners worldwide. C&A is a sponsoring partner of the Water Footprint Network. Working together with and supported by its partners, Water Footprint Network has engaged companies, investors, research institutes and government agencies in applying Water Footprint Assessment to agricultural and industrial production and in river basins. For more information, visit: www.waterfootprint.org

About C&A Europe:
With over 1,550 stores in 20 European countries and more than 37,500 employees C&A Europe is one of the leading fashion retail businesses in Europe. C&A Europe is an enterprise of Cofra Holding AG.

Note for editors:
The published studies are available at http://c-and-a.ca/1bbm13F.

Press contacts:

C&A Foundation
Leslie Johnston
Executive Director
10 Grafenauweg
6300 Zug, Switzerland
p: +41 (0)41 728 0000
m: l.johnston@candafoundation.org

C&A Europe
Alain Renard
Sustainable Business Development
Jean Monnetlaan
B-1804 Vilvoorde
p: +32 (0)479 761428
m: alain.renard@canda.com

Water Footprint Network
Ruth Mathews
p: +31 (0)53 4894370
m: ruth.mathews@waterfootprint.org

C&A signs the Accord on Fire and Building Safety

Düsseldorf, 13 May 2013. C&A today has agreed the Accord with IndustriALL and UNI Global Union on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The Agreement is the next milestone in a series of contributions C&A has made to sustainably improve working conditions and fire safety in Bangladesh after the fire tragedy in Tazreen in November 2012.

Alongside the strong commitment to fire safety measures, the promised support for people impacted by the fire is also in progress. With the committed financial backing of the C&A Foundation, more than 1 million Euros has been budgeted for programmes to support the longer term needs of various groups of victims of the Tazreen fire.

In-depth fire safety audits in Bangladesh, conducted by Bureau Veritas and funded by the C&A Foundation, are already underway at production units owned by local suppliers to C&A. The first results have been shared with the newly created C&A sustainable supply chain team. These inspections include an assessment of the electrical systems, building layouts and building construction, as well as in-depth fire safety training for both workers and management. If any factory is unwilling or unable to carry out necessary improvements which are identified by Bureau Veritas, the C&A production will be placed elsewhere until compliance is achieved.

Sustainable Supplier Programme
An on-going Sustainable Supplier Programme which began with projects in Bangladesh, implemented together with GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zuzammenarbeit) is being expanded in 2013 and will include additional Bangladeshi suppliers as a result. The programme focuses on increasing efficiency especially through an improved dialogue between management and workers.

Vocational Training Centre
Together with local Bangladeshi NGO Grameen Shikha, a new Vocational Training Centre has recently been opened which is financed by the C&A Foundation. A significant new course has been added to the existing curriculum which focuses on industrial electrical wiring. 120 students will be enrolled in this course in July 2013. The plan is that the graduates will be placed in the industry, in order to offer their skills, to help prevent future factory fires in Bangladesh.

C&A is committed to adopting comprehensive change, and also recognises that joint efforts, involving a wide spectrum of engaged parties are still necessary to lay the foundations for an effective prevention of similar incidents in the future. To enable the various measures promised in support of the victims of Tazreen, as well as a range of necessary fire safety improvements, plus other benefits for workers in C&A supply chains, an amount of 5 million Euros in total has been made available from the C&A Foundation.

ZDHC Releases Inaugural Annual Report & Draft Joint Roadmap, Version 2

ZDHC Releases Inaugural Annual Report

On 4 March 2013, adidas Group, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Li Ning, NIKE, Inc., and PUMA SE released the 2012 Annual Report. We are pleased to share the inaugural year results of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme in the 2012 Annual Report. The results presented in this report illustrate the focus on results and commitment of the ZDHC community—signatory brands, the textile chemical industry and supply chain industry associations, environmental and social nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), suppliers, and the academic community—during the past year to work towards the goal of zero discharge. You can view the update at



Draft Joint Roadmap, Version 2

The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme members, adidas Group, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Li Ning, NIKE, Inc., and PUMA SE, issued a draft Joint Roadmap, Version 2, on 4 March 2013 for review and comment. We welcome your comments on this document and thank you in advance for providing feedback. We ask that you complete this web survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZDHCJointRoadmapv2) and provide feedback on the approach and critical sections of the roadmap. Support from and alignment with our stakeholders underpins every aspect of the zero discharge programme and affects every programme project; we cannot achieve true transformation without engagement from many system participants.


C&A announces support for victims of fire in Bangladeshi garment factory

- Fund of more than 1 million USD for concrete measures to support victims and their families
- Additional investigations of work safety by independent experts
- Aim for industry-wide approach to fire safety
- For all forms of support and fire safety measures C&A foresees an amount of at least 5 million Euros
- C&A meets representatives of Clean Clothes Campaign

Düsseldorf, 26 February 2013. C&A Europe today announced numerous support measures following a fire at the garment factory of ‘Tazreen Fashion’ in Dhaka, Bangladesh. During the fire on 24 November, 112 people had died. Among other products, the factory had manufactured garments for C&A. Ever since this terrible event, supporting the victims and improving fire safety measures in Bangladesh has been the main priority for C&A. An overview of measures is described below.

Recipients of financial support are

1. Children who lost a parent at the fire
2. Those injured and unable as yet to return to work
3. Families who lost a relative in the fire

The total funds being donated by C&A via the C&A Foundation in support of the 3 groups of victims as described above are estimated to be more than one million USD.

70 children from 46 families have been named as having lost at least one parent in the fire. An amount of USD 50 (4000 Taka) per month will be made available for each of these children until they reach the age of 18 years old. The surviving parent or legal guardian of each of these children will receive an amount of USD 15 (1200 Taka) per month towards their education, medical expenses and other costs. The balance funds of USD 35 (2800 Taka) per month will be paid into a savings account registered in the name of each of these children, and to which they will have access on reaching the age of 18.

50 former employees of Tazreen fashions who were injured in the fire and are still unable to work will be supported by C&A via the C&A Foundation. C&A will continue to pay the medical costs for each of these 50 people until such time as they are fully recovered and able to work. In addition C&A will pay for loss of earnings which this group has suffered.

For each of the families who lost a relative in the fire C&A, via the C&A Foundation, has donated 1,200 USD per family which builds on earlier donations from other parts of the industry and organizations from Bangladesh.

“In addition to those measures the tragedy of 24 November has shown that despite C&A’s long tradition of safeguarding work safety in Bangladeshi production plants, additional audits on fire safety are necessary,” said Phil Chamberlain, head of Sustainable Business Development at C&A Europe.

For this reason C&A has started an in depth fire safety audit at all of its listed factories owned by locally based supply partners. The scope of work includes an assessment of the electrical systems, building layout and building construction, and will involve fire safety training also. If any factory is unwilling or unable to carry out necessary improvements C&A production will be located elsewhere until such time that such factories can comply in full with the recommendations made following the audit. The first audits will have been completed by middle of March. The forecast costs of the in-depth audit financed by the C&A Foundation are estimated to be in the region of 1 million USD.

Issues of fire safety were also raised during a meeting of representatives of the non-governmental organization ‘Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC)’ at C&A Europe’s headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany. “This meeting was important to us in order to understand the positions of CCC and explain the support measures we have initiated after the tragic incident,” said Phil Chamberlain. “We found that we agree on many issues, but that there are others on which we disagree and where there is need for further dialogue.”

Responding to demands by CCC for C&A to join a fire safety agreement devised by labour rights groups, local trade unions as well as the global sector trade union and brands, company representatives agreed to re-examine a possible accession to the treaty. However, they also referred to the lack of willingness among other companies to agree to a respective memorandum of understanding, which would render practical implementation difficult. “Few brands cannot effect the necessary change in regard to fire safety which is required in Bangladesh,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “To ensure safe and healthy working conditions in the future it is essential that initiatives are developed which involve multiple stakeholders, and will lead to fundamental change on the ground.”

Therefore C&A is actively seeking partnerships and maintains and an ongoing dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders such as the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP) and the Vereniging van Grootwinkelbedrijven in Textiel (VGT) aiming to drive this collaborative effort in regard to fire safety.

C&A reports on its Benchmark study ZDHC commitment

In line with its action plan released on February 17th 2012 and its commitment to conduct a Benchmark Study on “whether the first 9 identified priority chemicals [...] are in discharge to water or sludge, via on-site visits and audits, inventories, and other analytics” , C&A is proud to present the results of this Benchmark Study jointly conducted with other ZDHC Members.

For any question, please contact Alain Renard: alain.renard@canda.com

Summary of Discharge Report
Full version of Discharge Report


C&A’s European Executive Board commissions further investigation into fire at Bangladeshi textile plant

“We feel a deep solidarity with the families affected”

C&A’s Head of Sustainable Business Development will travel to Bangladesh this week. The purpose of his visit is to gather further information first hand on the incident, and to discuss how best C&A can play its part in helping those families whose loved ones have died or have been badly injured as a result of this tragic fire. “It is of utmost importance to C&A to establish concrete facts surrounding the safety standards prior to the accident, as well as addressing the needs of the families”, said Thorsten Rolfes, Head of Corporate Communication of C&A Europe.

Yesterday it was reported that more than 100 people died and many others were injured in a fire at the eight-story textile factory of Tazreen Fashion. The company had been commissioned to manufacture 220.000 sweaters to be delivered to C&A Brazil between December and February. This was C&A’s first commission to Tazreen Fashion.

“C&A feels a deep sense of solidarity with the families of those who lost relatives at yesterday’s fire at Tazreen Fashion and of those injured during the accident”, Rolfes said.

C&A statement on fire at Tazreen Fashion in Bangladesh

The European Executive Board of C&A has been informed about a fire in a textile plant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “The victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers”, said Thorsten Rolfes, Head of Corporate Communications for C&A Europe. The European Board confirms a contractual relation between Tazreen Fashion and C&A, since the company had been commissioned to manufacture 220.000 sweaters to be delivered to C&A Brazil between December 2012 and February 2013.

C&A withdraws T-shirt from the sales floor in Mexico

  • Tests by Greenpeace confirm integrity of products for the European market, according to the current EU legislation
  • High amount of NPE in Mexican garment violates company’s environmental commitment
  • European Executive Board emphasizes C&A’s commitment to the Joint  Roadmap

C&A Mexico has announced to take a specific T-shirt off the market after laboratory tests, commissioned by the international non-governmental organization Greenpeace, had indicated an excessive amount of NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylates) in the respective garment. The T-shirt was produced in Mexico, designated for sale only in the Mexican market. NPE’s are part of a group of chemicals substances called APEO’s (alkylphenol ethoxylates). The compounds are used in detergents, cleaning agents, or chemicals used for textile or leather production.

Thorsten Rolfes, Head of Corporate Communication at C&A Europe, apologized since the product withdrawal may have caused uncertainty amongst C&A customers. “All test on garments, designated for the European Market showed results within the range regulated by law and by the corporate standards to which C&A is committed. We stand by our commitment to abolish the use of NPEs in order to contribute to a better environment”, Mr. Rolfes said.

Nevertheless the withdrawal by C&A Mexico was necessary, according to Mr. Rolfes. For NPE’s are regarded to be negatively influencing water quality. “Since degradation products from NPE are very persistent, they constitute a substantial threat to the environment”, Mr. Rolfes said. “If suppliers use chemical products that contain NPE, they are disregarding our specific request to substitute NPE-containing chemical products.” In January 2012, C&A has started an extensive dialogue with all contractual manufacturing partners with the message that they must comply with this requirement and to further communicate throughout their own supply chains the need to source NPE-free chemical products.

C&A has, alongside other brands, committed to the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Joint Roadmap. “We have committed ourselves to the goal of zero discharge and NPE’s are a part of this pledge”, Rolfes said. “Until 2020, whenever available and viable from a holistic and sustainable perspective, substitution will be adopted.