Inditex outlines its sustainable future from zero waste to plastic free

Zara Inditex

Inditex executive chairman Pablo Isla has this week outlined even more ambitious sustainability goals for the global fashion giant, including a commitment to eliminate plastic bags and single-use plastics, as well as switch to sustainably sourced cotton, linen and polyester.

The parent of Zara, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear among others said it was ahead on some of its previous sustainability commitments as it delivered the details of its new targets.

Key near-term and longer-term initiatives include:

  • 2019: all of the Group’s platforms and head offices to meet the highest green building certificates and for 100% of Zara stores to be eco-efficient (which is one year ahead of the original target). In addition, the at-home used clothing collection service currently operating in several cities in Spain and China will be extended to Paris, London and New York by September.
  • 2020: the entire eco-efficient store platform will be complete by 2020. Zara will achieve this target in 2019 (as stated above), the rest of the brands will follow suit in 2020, assisted by the company’s effort to fine-tune and digitalise its sales footprint.
  • 2019/2020: the Group’s Join Life garments will account for one-quarter of the total clothing sold. Join Life is the label used by all of the Group’s retail formats to single out the use of more sustainable raw materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel and the prioritisation of more water and energy friendly processes.The volume of clothing featuring the Join Life label has already increased by 85% in 2018 to 136 million garments. The Group is anticipating further significant growth in 2019 – of 110% – and that by 2020 one in every four items of clothing put on sale will qualify for this sustainability label.
  • 2020: all Inditex brands will have eliminated the use of plastic bags, with Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti and Uterqüe already having done so. In 2018, only 18% of all bags were made from plastic.
  • 2020: all of the Group’s stores will have been fitted with containers for collecting used clothing for subsequent charitable purpose reuse or recycling. The Clothing Collection programme is one of the cornerstones of Inditex’s circular economy effort.That programme’s reach – in collaboration with a number of non-profit organisations – has increased to 24 markets; the 1,382 containers installed in the Group’s stores are complemented by the 2,000 street containers set up throughout Spain in collaboration with Caritas and the at-home pick up service operational nationwide in Spain. Since its launch, over 34,000 tonnes of garments, footwear and accessories have been collected through the dedicated containers placed in the company’s stores, offices and logistics platforms.
  • 2023: the company will have fully eliminated single-use plastics from customer sales and 100% of the waste generated at the Group’s head offices, logistics platforms and stores will be sent for recycling or reuse, framed by the Zero Waste programme.
  • 2025: Inditex will only use cotton, linen and polyester that is organic, more sustainable or recycled. Use of cotton, linen and polyester – together with viscose, which will reach this target by 2023 – constitute 90% of the raw materials purchased by the Group. In addition, 80% of the energy used in the Group activities (stores, logistic centres and offices) will be renewable.

Isla said the company’s sustainability commitments could only have been achieved as a result of its digital transformation and its strong financial performance, and said the group’s work in the field would be never-ending.

“Our digital transformation and determined progress towards the most demanding sustainability standards are complementary and underpinned by the efficiency of our long-standing business model, which is based on offering our customers the best in quality fashion,” Isla said.

He added: “Sustainability is a never-ending task in which everyone here at Inditex is involved and in which we are successfully engaging all of our suppliers; we aspire to playing a transformational role in the industry.”

Last year the group outlined its vision that its clothing should be available all around the world, even in those markets where it does not have stores, through its global online platforms.

Following the launch of its global online sales platform for, www.zara.com/ww, in 106 markets in which the chain does not have physical stores, Zara’s collections can now be purchased in over 200 markets. Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe have also already launched their global stores, lifting the number of markets where their fashions can now be shopped by over 100.

Isla said the that group’s model and its focus on introducing the latest technology into its business had led to a 54% increase in sales over the past six years. In 2018, Group revenue amounted to €26.15 billion, underpinned by growth in all the regions in which it does business, as well as in online sales, which accounted for 12% of the total, having increased by 27% last year. Net profit totalled €3.44 billion.

During the last six years, the company has overhauled its store portfolio, a process marked by 3,364 newly opened stores, 2,374 store refurbishments, 1,019 expansions and the absorption of 1,401 older and smaller-sized units in overlapping catchment areas. “Thanks to this effort, we are now offering our customers an integrated and unique experience in which they can swap the store for the online platform, and vice versa, at any stage in the process to best suit their needs,” Isla said.

Read our profile of Inditex, including further key data and a news archive, in our master database of fashion, The Intelligence.