Slowing and closing the loop: We are closing the textile loop

We pursue a holistic approach with our sustainable fashion: from collection development and material selection to production, sales and the recycling of used textiles. For the benefit of people and nature.

Fully committed to sustainability

Sales of textiles make up around 2 percent of Coop's total sales, and our own-label brands account for nearly half of that. The frontrunners are Coop Naturaline, Nulu and Sergio. When developing these collections, as well as having an influence on cut, patterns and colours, our sustainable sourcing criteria ensure that we, together with our suppliers, also comply with stringent environmental and social standards.

Stages in the life of a textile product

1. Carefully considered product development

Timeless design and long-term wearability are key when developing our fashion for Coop Naturaline, Nulu and Sergio. Our models are distinguished by the fact that they are easy to mix and match and can be worn for more than one season. This sets our own-label brands apart from fast fashion.

Consideration is given to minimizing the use of chemicals early on in the design phase. We exclude the use of all the chemical groups highlighted by Greenpeace. Therefore, we only select materials, colours and prints if they can be manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals. The switch to detox-compliant chemicals, as they are known, continues to present a major challenge in the textile industry. We promote change by raising awareness of the issue among our partners and suppliers. To this end, we have prepared a detox manual.

Sustainable materials
Coop Naturaline is synonymous with 100 percent organic cotton, 100 percent fair production, 100 percent transparency in the supply chain and 100 percent CO2 neutrality. We are the world's largest retailer of fair-trade organic cotton textiles. Our fully transparent production process is unique. Using a QR code and tracking number, items of Naturaline clothing can be traced from the origin of the cotton through to the manufacturer. Naturaline accounts for around a third of our sales of own-label brands in the textile segment.

For the Coop own-label brands Sergio and Nulu, we use sustainable cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative, which is a standard for fair and environmentally-friendly cotton production. Our aim is to manufacture 80 percent of all own-label textile brands from sustainable cotton by 2020.

Stringent quality management
Our quality management measures for Naturaline, Sergio and Nulu include taking and checking random samples during production. The cutting dimensions, shrinkage risk, colour fastness when washing, rubbing and pilling are among the aspects checked.

  • Coop own-label textile brands

2. Production according to clear standards

We take a holistic approach to implementing sustainability in the textile supply chain and therefore demand compliance with social and ecological requirements at all stages. High standards also apply to raw material procurement.

3. Sales: Saying no to fast fashion

We firmly believe that life cycles in the textile segment must not only be closed, but also slowed down. Decelerating collections and short-lived trends is the basis for consuming textiles responsibly. Therefore, for our own-label brands we focus on a standard range with basic models, supplemented by two new collections of selected seasonal pieces each year. We are taking a conscious stance against fast fashion, particularly with Coop Naturaline, and trying to raise customer awareness of sustainable fashion.

4. Gentle care for textiles

Customers play a key role in the responsible use of textiles: By washing, ironing, drying and caring for them properly, they can influence the energy and water requirements of textiles during their life cycle while also ensuring their longevity.

5. Conscious reuse and recycling

We believe it is important to keep wearable clothing in circulation for as long as possible and to recycle them professionally at the end of their life.

To identify the most sensible way of doing this, together with Quantis and in collaboration with Swiss textile collectors, we initiated an eco-audit on the reuse and recycling of clothing. The audit found that, from an environmental perspective, the most sensible option is to pass on discarded clothing and continue using it as clothing.

This will save 35,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents, which equates to 4,430 flights from Zurich to Auckland and back.

Longstanding collaboration with Tell-Tex
Customers can deposit unwanted clothes and shoes in the Tell-Tex collection containers that are located at more than 500 Coop sales outlets, so that they can be reused. We are thus able to accept textiles at almost all of our supermarkets.

Tell-Tex is a charitable organization that professionally collects, sorts and recycles clothing. The organization sells the old clothes and donates a portion of the proceeds to social projects. Through Coop Aid for Mountain Regions, a percentage of the revenues benefits Swiss mountain farmers and their families. In 2016, Swiss mountain farmers were supported to the tune of CHF 514,517.

  • Recycling textiles sustainably

6. Forward-looking research projects

Textile recycling often presents a challenge, particularly when the textiles are composed of several different fibres. And mixed fibres with a composition of, for example, 98 percent cotton and 2 percent elastane cannot simply be manufactured from recycled material. However, it is precisely those mixed fibres that account for the comfort, quality and longevity of a textile product.

To promote the recycling of textiles, we are supporting the «Texcycle» research project being carried out by the University of Lucerne and Texaid. The aim of the project is to close textile lifecycle loops or make them more sustainable by upcycling and recycling textiles. This involves analysing and optimizing the processes for treating old clothing.