Sustainable fibres

Sustainable fibre strategy

With the aim of further expanding our sustainable fiber program, the company joined the EU-funded European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) program in 2017. As a starting point, we conducted fiber consumption inventories and determined the associated fiber footprint. We summarized the results of our collaboration with ECAP in a case study. In 2018, we further specified our strategy for sustainable products and underpinned the fields of action defined in the process with targets. In the coming years, we want to significantly increase the share of sustainable fibers in our collections accordingly and address further material alternatives and product innovations.

Cotton

Cotton is one of the most important fibers in our product portfolio. Therefore we focus on sustainability criteria when sourcing this raw material. The s.Oliver Group aims to increase the proportion of sustainably produced cotton to 100 percent by 2030, predominantly in cooperation with the Cotton made in Africa and Better Cotton initiatives. At the same time, we use internationally recognized standards for organic cotton and, among other things, use Lyocell in our products, which is obtained from fabric remnants of cotton clothing from the textile industry.

ORGANIC COTTON

We use organic and thus GMO-free cotton. In the cultivation of organic cotton, no chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used, but natural variants such as compost. At the same time, crop rotation must be maintained so that different crops are alternately grown on the agricultural land. This helps to maintain and improve soil fertility and increases the humus content. This in turn ensures that the soil can absorb more CO2. In addition, no chemical defoliants may be used, which facilitate the mechanical harvesting of cotton but endanger the health of the harvest workers and farmers.

At s.Oliver, we currently use the "Organic Content Standard" (OCS) as internal proof of the amount of organic material in our textiles. One focus is on the traceability of organic fibers in the final product. We also use the world's leading standard for processing organic natural fibers, which defines not only ecological and social criteria for cultivation, but also for the entire organic cotton production chain.

COTTON MADE IN AFRICA

As part of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, the s.Oliver Group has been sourcing sustainable cotton from Africa since 2009. By doing so, we help African smallholders to help themselves in improving living and working conditions by their own efforts. Because for every textile with the CmiA label we pay a license fee to Cotton made in Africa. Income from licenses is reinvested in Africa and benefits small farmers and the protection of our nature through training in sustainable cotton cultivation. Genetic modification and artificial irrigation are prohibited in the cultivation of Cotton made in Africa cotton and are therefore excluded. In addition, the initiative is involved in social projects for the village communities - for example in the areas of female empowerment, education or health. Find out more here.

BETTER COTTON INITIATIVE

Another important partner for our sustainable cotton sourcing is the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Growers licensed to sell Better Cotton into the supply chain must meet minimum social and environmental criteria and demonstrate continuous improvement in this regard. In the environmental area, Better Cotton is characterized, for example, by reduced pesticide use, better water efficiency and a cultivation method that pays attention to preserving soil fertility and biodiversity. An overview of the Better Cotton criteria can be found here.

MASS BALANCE

Our cotton procurement through the Cotton made in Africa and Better Cotton initiatives is based on the principle of mass balance. According to this, our suppliers purchase a certain amount of cotton needed for the production of our goods as sustainable cotton. This means that cotton certified according to the criteria of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) or the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is supplied to cotton spinning mills in our supply chain in the corresponding quantity. The textiles are then made from this cotton. In the process, cotton that meets the criteria of BCI or CmiA may be interwoven with conventional cotton, meaning that products do not necessarily consist entirely of cotton from the initiatives. However, it is important that the amount of cotton corresponding to the product has been sustainably grown and enters our supply chain. Thus, the demand for the sustainably sourced cotton reaches the producers, i.e. the farmers. Ultimately, the total mass of cotton sourced is what matters. Hence the name mass balance. With each awarded product, cotton farmers are supported and nature is protected, because for each CmiA or BCI product, companies pay fees that are reinvested in the growing regions. You can find more information here.

CELLULOSE FIBERS

The pulp for our sustainably certified viscose comes from FSC- or PEFC-certified forestry. Further processing of the raw material into yarn takes place in a closed manufacturing cycle that reuses resources used and thus protects the environment. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced compared to the extraction of generic cellulose fibers.

Cellulose fibers are characterized not only by the fact that they are obtained from a renewable raw material, but also by the fact that they are biodegradable.

SUSTAINABLE CELLULOSE FIBERS FROM LENZING™

The wood-based viscose fibers of the LENZING™ ECOVERO™ brand come from certified and controlled sources and bear the EU Ecolabel due to their environmental compatibility. The production of LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose fibers causes about 50 percent less emissions and a lower water impact than generic viscose.

Lenzing not only uses certified wood as a raw material, but also fabric remnants from the cutting of cotton clothing in the textile industry. Using REFIBRA™ technology, the raw material is processed into new TENCEL™ lyocell fibers. This allows the use of raw materials and energy to be significantly reduced.

TENCEL™, REFIBRA™, LENZING™ and ECOVERO™ are trademarks of Lenzing AG.

SUSTAINABLE VISCOSE: LIVAECO™ BY BIRLA CELLULOSE™

Likewise, our partner Birla Cellulose™ specializes in the extraction of fibers from wood. Only wood from certified forestry is used for the production of cellulose fibers. In the manufacturing process, both water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced compared to other non-certified natural fibers. The cellulose fibers can also be traced back to their origin and are biodegradable.

Synthetic and animal fibres

In order to make the use of synthetic fibres more eco-friendly, the s.Oliver Group is increasingly focused on using recycled fibre materials. You can find more information here.

We also impose strict requirements and standards on our suppliers regarding the use of animal fibres, which you can read here.

SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING PROCESSES

Another strategy component is in the area of manufacturing processes. The s.Oliver Group wants to promote the use of environmentally friendly technologies in the production of textiles and provides suppliers with concrete guidelines for this purpose. One focus is on water-, energy- and chemical-reduced finishing techniques in jeans production. Learn more here.