Fashion brands and retailers have placed an ever-increasing focus on sustainability, at both a social and environmental level, in recent years. Largely driven by consumer attitudes and engagement, they must now be able to demonstrate that they are an end-to-end sustainable brand in order to retain customer loyalty.
ecoveritas has been working with British omnichannel fashion retailer, New Look, since 2010 and has supported them in completing packaging, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and battery compliance calculations and submissions. Most recently, in 2020, ecoveritas assisted the retailer in submitting textile tonnages to ensure compliance under French textile regulations.
New Look was founded in 1969 as a single fashion store in the UK. It is now a leading fashion brand, with 462 stores in the UK & Ireland.
With a clear focus on integrating sustainable practices across the business, New Look partners with key organisations to ensure it takes the right approach. The company has identified five core areas where its sustainability strategy can make a difference to customers, employees and its supply chain:
- Value chain
- Responsible sourcing
- Circular economy
- Climate change
- People and culture
New Look is embracing the circular economy philosophy and seeks to reduce consumption by minimising packaging and improving processes in operations to support reuse and recycling. Carrier bags, for example, are now made with 80% recycled material – plastic material that has accumulated instore and at the retailer’s distribution centres.
Katie Pryce, Sustainability Manager at New Look, said: “Sustainability is a key pillar to our business which underpins how we want to be operating as a company.
“We look at sustainability from both a social and environmental perspective. Initially, our strategy was very much focused on ethical clothing production but, in more recent times, it has evolved greatly to take into account wider environmental factors such as zero waste to landfill and packaging.
“As part of that, we have had to become much more savvy around packaging compliance in order to fulfil our ambitions as a completely sustainable brand and ensure we meet all legislative requirement. Packaging and environmental compliance has become as important as our strategies about responsible and ethical sourcing and production, as more legislation and regulations are implemented, not only here in the UK but globally too.”
The relationship with ecoveritas has developed over the course of the past decade. During that time, the packaging data specialist has managed compliance calculations and submissions relating to packaging, WEEE and batteries. This work has been completed for New Look in all countries the retailer has a presence in, including the UK & Ireland, France, Malta, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
The ecoveritas team liaises regularly with the business intelligence department at New Look to gather data relating to product sales by type, country and whether online or in-store. Information relating to the type of packaging used for each product, for example outer bags, hangers or tissue paper, is also collated by the ecoveritas team direct from New Look and its suppliers. It is then analysed against the associated weights held on record by ecoveritas. The weight information is gathered through a combination of supplier mailouts and direct weighing and undergoes quality assurance checks by ecoveritas for complete peace of mind.
Once the data is collected, ecoveritas is able to carry out calculations and make submissions to the various regulatory bodies responsible for packaging compliance in each country where the retailer operates.
In total, ecoveritas performs 39 different calculations for submissions every year for New Look.
Beyond data gathering, ecoveritas keeps New Look informed of impending legislation changes and works with the company’s sustainability team to help them understand the potential impacts on their business, in terms of costs and operationally.
Katie said: “Being able to outsource this type of work to ecoveritas is extremely helpful considering the huge amount of data that is handled by them year after year. With compliance, there is always some new regulation on the horizon that we need to be aware of and educated on. It’s not something that any brand or retailer can, or should, hide away from as transparency is becoming more and more important in the retail sector.
Katie added: “The team understands our needs and is able to pool together all the data from across the business and our suppliers to help minimise our costs and support our wider sustainability goals relating to packaging. Compliance is complicated, there’s no getting away from that, but by getting it right with support from ecoveritas means we can help to drive positive change in the industry and within our business too.”