New Look head of sustainability says there is still ‘much to do’

High street fashion giant New Look has said there is still ‘much to do’ despite hitting its sustainability targets last year.

The frank admission came from Sue Fairley, head of sustainability, sourcing and quality, as part of a wider focus on how the retailer is tackling some of the key issues surrounding its sustainability journey.

“We are on the journey and not at the destination when it comes to sustainability,” she said.

“While we are proud to have met our sustainability targets for last year – including sourcing 100% lower-impact cotton and viscose – the work is not done, and there’s still much to do.”

Fairley made the comments in Drapers, where she also revealed that sourcing fibres such as cotton has “posed a significant challenge” for the business.

In October last year, New Look’s 2023 sustainability report revealed that purchased goods and services – which includes cotton – remains the highest source of the retailer’s scope 3 emissions, accounting for 62% of its carbon footprint.

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Fairley said New Look remains “very focused on the environmental impact of the fibres and materials” it uses, adding that “cotton has posed a significant challenge for us”.

“It is a common and popular fibre in the fashion industry, and is widely used in our ranges – but it can come at a high environmental cost, especially in terms of water and pesticide use.”

To help mitigate these issues, New Look has joined forces with the Better Cotton Initiative and CottonConnect to produce lower-impact cotton while also educating farmers about sustainable production methods.

While making good progress on its ‘Kind to the Core’ three-year sustainability strategy, which launched in February 2022, Fairley emphasised that the focus for 2024 will be on “reducing supply chain impacts and carbon, and on transparency, data capture and education”.

The retailer is well on the way to its target of 100% lower-impact cotton with 99% of New Look cotton certified by the BCI and the remaining 1% certified organic.

New Look was the first major UK retailer to collaborate with TrusTrace to ensure visibility across the supply chain, focus on responsible sourcing and further mitigate possible risks.

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