Primark unveils first sustainability and ethics progress report

Foundations: What’s in Primark’s inaugural Sustainability and Ethics Progress Report?

Value fashion chain Primark launched its ‘Primark Cares’ sustainability strategy a year ago, and its inaugural Sustainability and Ethics Progress Report was released today to highlight the work the business has done to become a greener and more socially aware organisation.

On publishing the report, Primark Cares director Lynne Walker acknowledged the company is at the beginning of its journey to becoming a more sustainable operation.

The standout progress stated in the sustainability and ethics report centres on the work Primark has done to use a greater number of recycled materials in its products, as well as its launch of several circular economy initiatives and its ongoing research into what constitutes the appropriate packaging strategy.

“One year ago, we made a new promise to change the way we make and source our clothes, with a commitment to think differently about how we do business,” Walker said, underlining the fledgling status of the sustainability strategy.

“To provide focus, we set deliberately stretching targets reaching to 2030. We’ve spent the last year investing in and growing our expert teams, collaborating in new ways within our own business and also with suppliers and partners to support our transformation.”

She added: “It’s felt challenging at times and we know we’re only getting started but one year in, we’re more committed than ever to make more sustainable fashion affordable for all.”

Report highlights from year one

Green Retail World readers can take a look at the full Sustainability and Ethics Progress Report here

Circular and recycling initiatives

  • The launch of a Circular Design Training Programme was piloted for 24 members of the Primark product team and six suppliers, and will be scaled up in the next 12 months
  • 43 repair workshops took place across the UK and Republic of Ireland, encouraging customers and colleagues to keep and wear their clothes for longer.
  • Textile Takeback boxes have been rolled out across all UK, Ireland, Germany, and Austria stores – representing 65% of all stores internationally.

Product materials

  • Primark said 40% of all cotton clothing units sold contained cotton that is recycled, organic, or sourced from its Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme (PSCP), up from 27% at launch
  • The retailer said 252,800 farmers have been trained in the PSCP, with the business reportedly on track to train 275,000 farmers by end of 2023.
  • Almost 3,000 farmers from the PSCP participated in a pilot for the adoption of more regenerative cotton farming in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.


  • Primark established a Packaging Centre of Excellence to explore new ways to eliminate single-use plastic and non-clothing waste by 2027.

Wider supply chain and staff focus

  • The business is developing a renewable energy roadmap with partner RenEnergy and recruiting carbon leads in Bangladesh, India, and China to support suppliers to reduce emissions as part of Primark’s commitment to halve carbon emissions across its whole value chain by 2030.
  • The retailer commissioned and funded research with the Anker Research Institute to provide new or updated Global Living Wage Coalition estimates for four of Primark’s sourcing markets – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Turkey, and Vietnam.
  • Four new ‘Colleague Networks’ have been established to, in the words of Primark, create inclusive and supportive spaces for colleagues to discuss, represent and shape Primark’s thinking on neurodiversity and disability; cultural diversity; gender and life stages; and LGBTQIA+.

Walker said: “The past 12 months have been about building the right foundations for our sustainability strategy.

“Much of our focus has been on getting ourselves set up in the right way to meet the commitments we’ve made, which is why pilots and processes have been as important as the progress we’ve delivered during this first year.”

Primark said there are now 61 people dedicated to sustainability and ethics in Primark’s head office, as well as more than 130 team members in Primark’s ethical trade & environmental sustainability team.

[Image credit: Chris Webber]

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