Asos will aim for net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and aim to match the general population in terms of gender and ethnicity diversity among its executives, as the fast fashion company responds to growing buyers’ demand for brands ethical.
Fast-fashion retailers have faced persistent criticism from campaigners regarding the environmental footprint of cheap clothing seen as disposable by many customers. Fashion is estimated to account for around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.
The wider sector has also faced social issues such as representation among bosses and alleged minimum wage violations against some of the workers who make the industry’s clothing.
Asos, which sells only online, said it would try to meet “growing customer demands for greater choice in a responsible manner” with targets for emissions reductions, recycling and worker representation.
Nick Beighton, CEO of Asos, said the company has set itself “stretched ambitions”. Asos wanted to act “in a sustainable and responsible manner” even as it seeks to expand rapidly across the world, he said.
The retailer said it will produce no net carbon in its own operations by 2025 and hopes to align its broader supply chain with the standard by 2030. Asos will then offset any remaining emissions from the products. and services it purchases.
It also said it would improve the “circularity” of its products, including using “more sustainable or recycled materials” in its own-brand products and packaging, designing easily recyclable clothing and making it easier to recycle clothing by customers.
Increased circularity would help further reduce Asos’ impact on the planet. A study by the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce found that almost half of the products added to Asos, Boohoo, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing over a fortnight were made entirely from new plastics such as polyester, acrylic and nylon. The demand for virgin plastic helps support the fossil fuel industry and ends up adding to waste.
Regarding diversity goals, Asos said it will ensure that 50% of managers at all levels are women and 15% are from ethnic minorities. This would largely correspond to the UK population, where 50.6% were women in 2019 and 14% were from ethnic minorities in 2018, according to Diversity UK.
Asos will also map its supply chains for own-label clothing, from the finished product to the raw material level by 2030, he said. Asos was among retailers that pulled clothing sales from Boohoo last year, after its fast fashion brand faced allegations of minimum wage violations hidden at factories in its supply chain in Leicester.
âThe responsibility for a sustainable future lies with all of us and companies must lead the way,â Beighton said.