Travel and outdoor apparel retailer Kathmandu has exceeded several sustainability targets in its latest report, also calling for industry-wide change in the adoption of driving sustainable innovations.
In 2017 alone, Kathmandu recycled 3.9 million plastic bottles into gear, a three-fold increase on 2016 and outperforming its own 2017 target by 1.4 million. It also increased its use of sustainable cotton from 59 per cent in 2016, to 74 per cent in 2017, and is on track to achieve 100 per cent sourcing of sustainable cotton within three years.
Kathmandu said its top priority in sustainability has been aligning with the Fair Labor Association to ensure global best practice in monitoring and improving worker’s rights in the supply chain. This work was acknowledged in 2017 with a B+ rating in the Ethical Fashion Report released in April, one of the highest rankings for a New Zealand based business.
At a manufacturing level, Kathmandu has reduced fresh water usage by 4.25 million litres in 2017 by introducing Recycolor cotton to its fabric mix. Made from cotton scraps gathered from factory floors and cutting tables, Recycolor cotton uses 70 per cent less water than traditional cotton.
Tim Loftus, marketing manager global brand at Kathmandu told Inside Retail that sustainability is about driving innovation, efficiency, team member engagement and customer loyalty.
“Certainly cost savings come from striving to become a more efficient business, but more importantly there is unprecedented value created by challenging the status quo and addressing the social, economic and environmental issues of our industry,” he said.
Loftus said collaboration is key when it comes to trying to realising sustainability objectives.
“The large scale challenges associated with becoming a more sustainable business are shared by all businesses across the industry,” he said.
“Industry-wide collaboration is an unstoppable force, working together with competitors and suppliers we have a far more substantial impact. We need our industry to throw their collective support around sustainability to drive real and lasting change.”
Kathmandu’s sustainability work now spans across all functions of the business, including managing working conditions in factories, sourcing sustainable and ethically produced materials, eliminating restricted chemicals, reducing waste, and educating our staff at all levels.
“Sustainability is not a department in our business, it is in the DNA of our business and is central to our brand,” affirmed Loftus.
Kathmandu has also signed a partnership agreement with Bluesign®, an independent chemical auditor which helps factories select chemicals which are safe to use, eliminate ‘black’ chemicals which are unsafe, and put in place best practice management strategies for those rated ‘silver’, or classified as usable with good management.
In distribution, Kathmandu opened a new custom built 5 Green Star, 25,000 square metre distribution centre in Melbourne, Australia this year, which is the company’s third 5 Green Star Rated building and has been future-proofed with innovations in water use, energy and emissions.
Kathmandu continued its ‘war on waste’ in-store by increasing its recycling rate to 72.8 per cent, and is working more closely with landlords to increase recycling of soft plastics in shopping centres.