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Fast fashion giant Primark sets out new sustainability targets

By Huw Hughes

15 Sep 2021

Fashion

Image: Primark

Irish fast fashion behemoth Primark says all its clothes will be made using recycled or more sustainably sourced materials by 2030 as part of a new “wide-reaching” sustainability strategy.

Just 25 percent of its fashion currently meets these standards, the company said Wednesday while announcing a number of new targets.

The retailer will begin by switching all its men’s, women’s and kids’ entry price point t-shirts to sustainably sourced cotton over the next year.

Other targets it aims to hit by 2030 include halving carbon emissions across its value chain and pursuing a living wage for workers in its supply chain.

By 2025, the company aims to strengthen the durability of its clothes to make them last longer, and by 2027 it aims to make its clothing recyclable by design.

Considered by many as the face of the throwaway fast fashion industry, Primark has made its fortune over the years churning out huge quantities of clothing at shockingly low prices - t-shirts in its stores can sell for just 2 pounds a pop.

Concerns have been raised not only over the environmental damage of such business models, but also the potential exploitation of those making such cheap garments.

Primark said Wednesday the new targets would be implemented without affecting prices.

“Our ambition is to offer customers the affordable prices they know and love us for, but with products that are made in a way that is better for the planet and the people who make them,” said CEO Paul Marchant. “We know that’s what our customers, and our colleagues, want and expect from us.”

The news comes just days after Primark revealed a hit to sales during the fourth quarter of the year as Covid restrictions continued to impact the business.

In its pre-closing trading update for the year to September 18, the company said it expects fourth-quarter like-for-like sales to be 17 percent lower than the same period two years ago.

Primark was hit hard by the pandemic, as unlike many of its rivals it doesn’t have an e-commerce site to offset losses from the closure of its stores.

Nonetheless, the company said it has experienced strong sales in markets that have reopened. It expects to achieve sales of 3.4 billion pounds in the second half of 2021.