Stay tuned: sustainability in action
How to stay socially and environmentally conscious in the garment industry
Erve Group places immense emphasis on the welfare of the people it works with and the environmental impact of production. The company’s head of quality and compliance Kyra Claeys explains the important work of ensuring that clothing is produced with maximum care for people and the environment.
“Our main goal is to be one step ahead when it comes to CSR, we are always looking for new initiatives which fit the sustainable Erve Group goals.”
Quality control at every opportunity
It starts with selecting suppliers and subcontractors. Erve Group’s Code of Conduct outlines the ways in which all suppliers must prioritize the wellbeing of employees and prove their commitment to sustainable practices. The organization only works with those who carry BSCI, SMETA or SA8000 certifications and an Oekotex certificate.
“After documents are checked, social compliance managers visit the facilities in person. Social and environmental standards including chemical use and water and energy consumption are recorded, and suppliers are only added to Erve Group’s list when the documents and audit reports are satisfactory. Building and fire safety is also audited through agreements such as the Bangladesh Accord which we signed in 2013”
“Almost 78% of our production is cotton, so we work with two types of sustainable cotton: BCI and GOTS”. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) bans harmful pesticides and assesses environmental impact, while the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) ensures the organic status of textiles, taking social factors and water and energy consumption into account. And it doesn’t stop there. All packaging is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Licensed products comply with the Disney ILS standards and are produced in Facility and Merchandise Authorization (FAMA) approved factories.”
Future plans include increasing the use of sustainable cotton: organic and regenerated cotton.
“We also want to start using CmiA (Cotton made in Africa) for a selection of products. For one customer, we also started with the production of bamboo.”
Suppliers are also moving towards STeP (Sustainable Textile Production) certification, which gives new insights and training on sustainable production.
Evaluate our efforts too
“In 2016 we became a signatory of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile. We are well aware of our due diligence and strive to improve working conditions in our supply chain by analyzing the entire production process from the cotton field to delivery to the customer.”
This involves a risk analysis of the supply chain, which focuses on purchasing and production processes and identifying possible risks that go along with them. Every year, goals and an action plan set the vision in motion.
“This year we are planning to create a two-way Code of Conduct for our suppliers in which the suppliers can also evaluate us as a purchaser. Erve Group is also joining projects to strengthen garment workers’ voices and promoting freedom of association in supply chains in India and China.”