Japanese fashion group Fast Retailing has just presented its 2021 Sustainability Report, a yearly summary of its vision and latest efforts to become a more sustainable company it has been releasing since 2006. In the focus is Fast Retailing’s retail fashion brand Uniqlo.
This year’s report featured a discussion between Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO, Fast Retailing Group, and Jacques Attali, a French philosopher, economist and futurologist. Ten years ago, Attali predicted and warned of a global pandemic in one of his books. The dialogue presented in this occasion had taken place in October 2020 and explored how the pandemic is changing society and how the industry can respond. He highlighted “the Economy of Life” and altruism as the prescriptions for the social and economic crisis humanity is facing.
This year’s report featured a discussion between Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO, Fast Retailing Group, and French philosopher Jacques Attali.
The company has also disclosed some of its 2020 initiatives including, for instance, the signing of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action in January 2020. The Charter supports the goals of the Paris Agreement in “limiting global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” It also calls for a commitment to “30% aggregate GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emission reductions by 2030.”
Fast Retailing was also the first included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) World Index, and it was recognized as a water security “A List” company by CDP.
Among its 2020 activities it launched Re.Uniqlo recycling project. The initiative is based upon the collecting of Uniqlo clothes its customers no longer wear and give them new value by creating new Recycled Down Jackets whose insulating filling is entirely made from down and feathers extracted from the items collected from its customers.
Recycled down jacket from the Re.Uniqlo recycling project
Each jacket is filled completely with reclaimed down and feathers taken from pieces of 620,000 down products collected in Japan since the start of 2019. The recycling process uses a completely automated down-separation system newly developed by Toray Industries, Inc. The system offers approximately 50 times the processing capability of manual processes, and has enabled large-scale recycling and production. The down and feathers are washed after separation, and those that meet the criteria for cleaning as new ones are recycled as materials to be used in new down products. The first jackets were sold starting from November 2020.
The group also collected secondhand Uniqlo clothes in stores to be reused and delivered to people in need worldwide in the form of emergency clothing aid for refugee camps and disaster areas together with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), NGOs and NPO. Clothing that cannot be reused is recycled as fuel or soundproofing material, although this last initiative is carried ahead in Japan only.
Fast Retailing has started using alternative sustainable raw materials. Among others, it used recycled polyester material made from post-consumer PET bottles. This year, it recycled polyester comprised 32% to 75% of its high-performance, quick-drying Dry-Ex Polo Shirt, and 30% of the Fluffy Yarn Fleece Full-Zip Jacket, and Fluffy Yarn Fleece Pullover Shirt.
It also developed “Good Wool” products as part of a signature program in “Theory For Good,” the brand’s platform for social and environmental responsibility. The “Good Wool” is an ultra-fine merino wool sourced from responsibly-raised Australian sheep and woven in Italian mills using some of the latest energy and water-saving technologies.
Fast Retailing has also reduced water consumption in jeans manufacturing by up to 96% in the finishing process when comparing the amount of water used in the finishing process for its GU’s Tapered Ankle Jeans with conventionally finished jeans. It achieved such results by using special washing machines with ozone gas cleaning and nano-bubble cleaning functions. In addition, it introduced treatments using eco-stones, long-lasting, artificial stones that do not wear down. In this way it has eliminated the need for crushed natural stones and reduced the amount of water required for cleaning.