Sustainability
Opinion Article
INVITED EDITOR
Editorial from
Carlota Taborda
December 21, 2023
12. Responsible consumption and production

12. Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
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The waste of water in the clothing industry.

This paper was hold by students in the following of Global Impact Mindset: UN SDG Module of NOVA SBE. The study will focus on the sixth of seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development goals (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all). As the clothing sector is one of the sectors in the industry that waste (responsible for approximately 20% of industrial water pollution from textile treatment and dyeing (Niinimäki, K., 2020)) and consume the most water (79 trillion litres per year), the research will be undertaken on this industry.

The United Nations and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of goals in the universal agreement, covering five key areas: people (to eradicate poverty), the earth (to protect everything that makes the earth fit for living), prosperity (to ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity now and in the future ) (Morton, S. et al., 2017) The future, and partnerships (to ensure that countries and companies strive to achieve these seventeen goals).

About Inditex Group

Inditex is attempting to have a good impact on the environment by taking steps to maintain biodiversity, minimise water, energy, and other resources usage, and battle climate change. The board of directors of Inditex approved an environmental sustainability policy on December 9, 2005. This policy exists to make companies more environmentally friendly by fostering biodiversity preservation and sustainable natural resource management (INDITEX, S.A, 2015). The organisation works to raise public awareness about climate change, water management, waste generation, and biodiversity preservation.

Inditex is dedicated to safeguarding and growing the earth by managing natural resources responsibly and sustainably. The Group's Biodiversity Strategy, which is based on the principles of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, aims to protect diversity at all levels of its operations and guides the group every day to be the most environmentally and ethically responsible business, reflects this commitment (INDITEX, S.A., 2020). Because this is the largest group in the sector and hence produces a lot of fibres, the group wastes a lot of water. More techniques to decrease waste and make a more efficient and sustainable firm can be implemented globally.

The waste of water in the clothing sector

Water is one of the most valuable resources to ensure the sustainability of the planet and those who inhabit it (Inditex, S. A. 2012). According to the United Nations, 2 billion people live in places with significant water stress, and over 4 billion people, or more than half of the world's population, face acute water scarcity at least once a year (Levi Strauss & CO, no date). Cotton fabric has an average water impact of 10,000 gallons per kilogramme over the world. This indicates that a 250-gram cotton shirt requires around 2,500 gallons of water. to manufacture, the equivalent of 2.5 years' worth of drinking (Fund, 2013). Eight thousand gallons are required to produce a pair of 800-gram jeans. Because cotton must be irrigated, one-third of the crop's water footprint is utilised, contributing to water waste (Pereira, no date).

The SDGs and the clothing industry

The fashion supply chain is characterized by labour-intensive manufacturing, long value chain and high pollution compared with other industries. A lot of resources, energy and water are consumed and wasted. The waste of water in this sector contains a lot of toxic chemicals and most of the companies don’t invest in technology for water treatments. According to World Bank (2022), 17% to 20% water pollution from industrial consumption is created by the dyeing and treatment process in the industry and there are 72 toxic chemicals produced by textile dyeing. This means that fast fashion trends have caused a lot of purchasing and consequently, a lot of waste. Even though, this waste is hard to prevent, companies need to work even harder to come up with sustainable plans for the supply chain in the clothing industry.

The influence of SDGs in the Inditex Group

Inditex is committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Inditex's sustainability policy, 2020). This presents an opportunity for the group to maximise their positive impact with their contributions to sustainability together with stakeholders. This commitment extends across the company and includes all 17 SDGs and their sub-goals. However, the organisation has made greater contributions to some SDGs, such as SDG 3 (health and well-being), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 17 (partnership to achieve the goals) (INDITEX, S.A., 2020) due to the very nature of our business model and activity. SDG 6 (Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all) should also be seen as one of the most important goals because of water waste in the sector. If the industry finds other ways to make fibres without creating too much waste, more clean water should be available to the poor. Considering the current scenario produced by Covid-19, the 2030 Agenda is even more important. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a common denominator for discussions and agreements among all parties involved in the long-term recovery of health, economy, and societies. The organisation's sustainability policy establishes the principles that govern the Inditex group's interactions with all stakeholders, emphasising the importance of incorporating sustainable practices into its business model (INDITEX, S.A. 2020). Inditex is committed to conducting business in an environmentally friendly manner and to encouraging biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resource management through this policy (INDITEX, S.A., 2015).

Waste of water in Inditex group

Inditex Group, while being one of the most prominent and lucrative fast fashion businesses, is very conscious of sustainability. Inditex is devoted to taking environmental and social factors into account, particularly when it comes to water management (Inditex, 2012). This is to be observed in the planning and development of its activities, as well as those of its business partners, through raising environmental consciousness among its employees, suppliers, and the public.

According to Inditex's global water management strategy report (2012), a Water Management Strategy was developed to integrate reflection of the company's commitment to sustainability with business strategies, with the goal of involving the supply chain in the efficient and effective management of the water resource. The strategy's key goals are: ➢ To manage and promote more efficient water consumption at the corporate headquarters, logistic hubs, stores, and supply chain. ➢ Work closely with the supply chain to guarantee the river and marine ecosystems' environmental quality is preserved. ➢ Developing master plans for water management at the quantitative and qualitative levels in owned production centres and supply chains, as well as conducting audits and implementing efficiency management plans in all headquarters offices, logistics centres, and stores. ➢ Encourage wide participation from groups concerned with water use and management. ➢ Ensure that all acts in the realm of water are transparent and create them so that they are easily verifiable and compared. Inditex (2020) recognises that progress towards a sustainable business model necessitates more efficient resource management. Design and sourcing to manufacturing, quality control, shipping, and online and in-store sales have all been integrated into the Group's sustainability objectives. The company is paying special attention to the raw materials it uses to make its goods, as these choices can have a direct impact on minimising water waste in the industry. ➢ The growing popularity of organic cotton. The Group used approximately 166,000 tonnes of sustainable cotton in its garments in 2021, up 125% from the previous year. Currently, 65% of the cotton the organisation uses, comes from environmentally friendly sources. ➢ Growing use of recycled fibres and recycled polyester. In 2020, we used over 26,000 tonnes of polyester from more sustainable sources, 179% more than in 2020. ➢ By 2023, Inditex expects to use 100% more sustainable cotton and 100% sustainable cellulosic fibres, which will help decrease the waste of water in the production of the fibres.

Conclusion

Big organisations such as Inditex group play a big role in society creating and following fashion trends. For that reason, being aware and worried about sustainability is key for the company's success and to make society aware and conscious of it.

References

Inditex Group (2022). Available online at: https://www.inditex.com/en/our-commitmenttothe-environment/water.

Inditex S. A (2012). Global water management strategy: Guidelines and actions to promote

the sustainability management of water.

Inditex 2022. (online) Available at: https://www.inditex.com/en/about-us/who-we-are.

Inditex Group (2021). Our commitment to sustainability.

Inditex S. A (2012). Code of Conduct and Responsible Practices. A coruña, spain.

Inditex S. A., (2020). Annual Report 2020. A Coruña, Spain, pp.8, 9.

Inditex, S. A., (2020). Sustainable Policy. A Coruña, Spain.

Inditex, S. A., (no date). Code of Conduct for Manufacturers and Suppliers Inditex Group. A

Coruña, Spain.

Levi & Strauss CO (No date) 2025 Water Action Strategy.

Morton, S. et al (2017). Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and their implementation. British Medical Bulletin, 2017, 124: 81-90.

Niinimäk, K. et al (2012) The environmental price of fast fashion.

SDG Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation (online). Available at: https://data.unicef.org/sdgs/goal-6-clean-water-sanitation/.

Starman and Adrijana (2013). 'The case study as a type of qualitative research: JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 1.

United Nations, (online). Available at: https://sdgs.un.org/goals.

Carlota Taborda
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