As consumers continue to prioritise value, Primark is standing by its customers and price leadership, and two years since the launch of its sustainability strategy Primark Cares, remains on track to delivering its promise to offer more sustainable affordable fashion to everyone. Its commitment that all its clothes will be made of recycled or more sustainably sourced materials by 2030 is well on track. This year, over half (55%) of all clothes sold contained recycled or more sustainably sourced materials, up from 45% last year. This was supported by the launch of a new circular product collection this year, with over three million units of circular clothing sold.
The retailer’s second Sustainability and Ethics Progress Report is released today, showing how over the past 12 months, Primark has scaled up pilot programmes and projects, embedding early learnings on where it can have the most impact to drive change.
One great example is cotton, Primark’s most used fibre in its clothing. This year, 46% of cotton clothing sold contained cotton that was either organic, recycled or sourced from the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme (PSCP), up from 40% last year. PSCP, which celebrates a decade in operation this year, is now the largest programme of its kind for a single fashion retailer and demonstrates how scaling up partnerships can deliver real impact. The programme is now run in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with a pilot launched in Turkey this year.
Primark has also rolled out a traceability and compliance platform, TrusTrace, to help gather data from the full supply chain of products, from raw materials to finished product. This information will help Primark to better understand and manage its supply chain.
Another significant milestone this year was Primark’s target of halving carbon emissions across its value chain by 2030 – being assessed and validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). With the majority of carbon emissions arising from its supply chain, Primark has been focusing on supporting suppliers to understand the opportunity to switch to renewable energy sources and has scaled up its energy efficiency programmes across 57 factories in Bangladesh, China and Cambodia. It has also appointed regional carbon leads to support suppliers and factories locally. Within its own operations, Primark has been focused on reducing energy usage in its stores and using more renewable energy. 70% of Primark stores are now powered by renewable or low-carbon electricity and 141 stores have made the switch to energy-efficient lighting.
Lynne Walker, director of Primark Cares, commented on the launch of the second Report: “Primark Cares is driving everyone in Primark to change. Year two was about gaining momentum: scaling and embedding the principles, programmes and processes that will take us to 2030 and beyond, while acknowledging the learnings we face along the way. We continue to work with our partners and suppliers to drive change, and we’ve learnt more than ever how collaboration is crucial for delivery of our Primark Cares commitments. We’ve also been focused on upskilling and training our colleagues, who are an integral part of how we make change happen in our business.
“Another critical element is how we can inspire and educate our customers and bring them with us on our change journey. This includes being more transparent about where and how our clothes are made, the changes we are making and what it means for them, and the issues and what role the fashion industry and they, as customers, can play in this change.”
Other progress highlights across its Primark Cares strategy include:
- The development of a new Circular Product Standard (CPS): Primark launched a new framework for how it intends to design and make products which can be reloved or recycled at end of life. Its first circular product range based on this framework was launched this year, made up of a 35-piece collection across womenswear, menswear and kidswear focusing on wardrobe staples like denim and jersey. Through this collection over three million units of circular clothing were sold. Primark is also now working to train more employees and suppliers in circular design.
- Primark has expanded its repair workshops, with 100 workshops held across four markets – UK, Ireland, France and the Netherlands – hosting 1,600 free places to customers and colleagues since 2021, upskilling them on how to repair and customise their clothes, all with the goal to encourage them to love and wear their clothes for longer.
- Scaling up its extended durability wash testing to cover 39% of all Primark’s clothing – 57% of all denim tested met the highest level under its own enhanced wash framework.
- Partnering with behaviour change experts Hubbub and the University of Leeds to support the largest of its kind study to understand the factors that impact the durability of clothing and what role price plays in how long a garment lasts. The research found that there is no correlation between how long an item of clothing lasts and its price, and highlighted the urgent need for the industry to align on a recognised durability standard so customers can make more informed choices when shopping.
- Primark has trained 299,388 farmers in more sustainable farming methods through the PSCP since 2013, surpassing its target of 275,000 farmers by end of 2023. New impact data shows a 26% reduction in the use of pesticides by farmers involved in the PSCP, with chemical fertilisers by 35%, leading to an increase of cotton yield among the farmers by 8%1.
- Primark developed with external experts a biodiversity monitoring framework to help to better understand outcomes and indicators which can be measured for seeing long term improvements in biodiversity. Primark has begun testing this methodology at selected farms in its PSCP.
- Since 2019, Primark estimates to have removed and/or avoided over one billion units of single-use plastic (SUP) from its business.
- As part of its commitment to pursue a living wage for workers within its supply chain, Primark is using the Fair Labor Association’s Fair Compensation Toolkit to collect wage data in factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Turkey. As part of its membership with Action, Collaboration and Transformation (ACT), Primark also continues to improve its responsible purchasing principles including training all relevant colleagues on how to embed these in day-to-day engagement with suppliers.
- Primark has helped workers in its supply chain in India to understand more about their rights through its My Life programme in over 7 factories. These factories represent over 4,000 workers.
- Primark’s skills development programme Sudokkho has been run in 17 factories. These factories represent 29,224 female workers. While not falling under its Primark Cares strategy, Primark has also this year focused on some key initiatives to promote wellbeing and inclusion for its colleagues.
- Donated £150,000 to ILGA World to advance equity and equality for LGBTQI+ people worldwide, bringing the total contribution to £475,000 over the last 4 years.
- Primark announced a new three-year partnership with WorkEqual, with a commitment to provide €300,000 to help bring its coaching, career development and styling services to women across Ireland.