BESTSELLER has a responsibility to help create a healthy watershed in the locations we source from. While our own water use is not high, our focus is to reduce water use in our supply chain.
Water is a more or less constant component in textile production and garment manufacturing, and traditional processes – from crop irrigation to the dyeing of fabric, and the washing of garments – can have a substantial negative impact on waterways.
For the raw material production, we will increase the uptake of materials with verified water reductions, like Better Cotton, and work with suppliers who continuously strive to improve their water stewardship practices. The water stewardship approach also means we will look beyond water management at factory level.
We collect data about our suppliers’ water usage through the Higg FEM and as part of our Factory Standards Programme, and suppliers’ performance data is incorporated into suppliers’ environment rating.
Water is particularly important in the production of denim, one of the most iconic and popular products in the modern fashion industry. Denim is a key material for BESTSELLER.
Traditional methods of denim production can be harmful to the environment due to the significant amounts of water and chemicals involved.
To produce the denim products of the future, our brands are constantly analysing how they can improve the jeans and other denim-based products they sell, as well as working with innovative manufacturers to identify and apply alternative solutions.
For example, since 2020, all cotton in SELECTED’s jeans is organic and all jeans go through Jeanologia’s Environmental Impact Measuring software to assess and lower the impact of the garments’ finishing processes, such as water, energy and chemicals.
We are planning to develop a pilot programme to improve water management systems at suppliers that operate in countries of high water-stress. We are exploring potential partners to help develop a water management system that can help suppliers track their water usage and report that information easily, as well as develop strategies or implement technologies that suppliers can use to create our products without compromising local water resources.
Additionally, our membership of the Fashion Pact – which has a focus on Oceans – supports our overall ambitions regarding water.
Water is a localised resource, which impacts all users of a water basin system and it is a shared responsibility to protect common water resources. Therefore, we want to focus on local circumstances and take supply chain operations, as well as local water availability and quality, into account when prioritising actions and setting targets that take the local context into consideration. This has led to a shift in our approach where we decided to move from setting water targets to developing a framework that defines key focus areas and risks and enables us to continuously improve.
Having joined the Science Based Targets for Nature Corporate Engagement program, BESTSELLER has been following the development of the SBT for Water closely. The development of the Water Framework takes this important work into consideration and we aim to adopt the SBT for Water where it will be relevant over time. Through impact measurement, partnership, and engaging local communities and customers, BESTSELLER’s aims to be part of the solution and helps improve conditions in communities which we depend on for our raw materials. At the core of the framework lies the understanding of the impact of our operations and how managing these impacts link to for example climate change, human rights and biodiversity.
Understanding this link is important to understand the interdependencies between these topics and how one can enhance effects of the other. Water should therefore not be dealt with in an isolated matter. We know for example that climate change is affecting the world's water resources and causing more flooding and draughts. As water is of vital importance to life, these erratic water events can have an effect on biodiversity as well as on local communities across the globe.
BESTSELLER has a responsibility to help create a healthy watershed in the locations we source from. Water stewardship schemes help improve conditions in communities on whom we depend for our operations and raw materials. Innovation is a vital part of our strategy and we therefore work on innovative solution like increasing the uptake of more innovative materials and working with our suppliers on new solutions in production processes. In the coming years we will also increase our focus on innovative solutions in the use phase of the product. The impact on water resources from our owned and operated locations is not very high, but because we control the operations it gives us a great opportunity to directly influence the use and discharge of water. Through our FWD programmes for our owned and operated buildings we will also address water impact here.
With regards to the water use in our supply chain, BESTSELLER’s focus lies with water stewardship in production facilities that are highly dependent on water and suppliers located in high-risk basins. For the raw material production, we will increase the uptake of materials with verified water reductions, like Better Cotton, and work with suppliers who continuously strive to improve their water stewardship practices. The water stewardship approach also means we will look beyond water management at factory level. Lastly, by providing consumers with fact- based and data- driven information and showing transparency about the impact of their choices, we hope to empower consumers towards changed behaviour. Information on the impacts during the use phase of the product will help them make more sustainable choices. This approach will help us moving forward and prioritise our actions according to impact and context.
Our environmental requirements for tier 1 factories require them to identify and track the quantity of water used by their facilities, set a baseline for water use and identify which processes contribute most to water use onsite. Factories are required to set targets and action plans to reduce water withdrawal compared to their baseline. We collect data about our suppliers’ water usage through the Higg FEM and as part of our Factory Standards Programme, and suppliers' performance data is incorporated into suppliers’ environment rating.
Our guidelines and expectations for our suppliers are outlined in our Code of Conduct and is in line with advice from industry advocacy organisations such as Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals). BESTSELLER became a member of AWS in 2019 and is working with suppliers in water-stressed catchments to understand and apply AWS standards, which focus on implementing water stewardship practices. We are currently following the progress of a few leading suppliers in Pakistan to understand how this approach can be applied in other parts of our supply chain.