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German textiles discounter KiK publishes sustainability roadmap 2020-2022

By Simone Preuss


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German textiles discounter KiK, a member of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles since 2015, has published its Roadmap for 2020 to 2022 a few days ago; a progress report including action plans for a sustainable textile supply chain, which all members must submit annually. This year, due to the changed situation caused by the Corona crisis, members are granted a 12-month extension, which KiK did not require.

“KiK has made use of the crisis and continued working on the roadmap, which is already based on OECD guidelines. We want to internationalise standards and have set ourselves a planning horizon for the next one or two years,” explained Ansgar Lohmann, head of KiK’s CSR department, recently in an interview with FashionUnited.

The guiding framework of the review process is the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, which is divided into eleven sections: child and forced labour, discrimination, working hours, health & safety, freedom of association & collective bargaining, salaries and social benefits, use of chemicals & wastewater, environmental protection & use of ressources, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and corruptions as well as the two additional goals of organic cotton and grievance mechanisms.

Social initiatives, discrimation at the workplace, freedom of association

As far as its social commitment is concerned, the textile discounter continues to finance one school in Turkey and four in Bangladesh; a fifth is to be added. In addition, KiK plans to continue the programme to obtain work permits for Syrian refugees and the UN Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) until 2022.

KiK also works with three supplier factories in Tamil Nadu, India, to improve the working conditions of the women workers there. The goal is to identify and implement improvements in internal grievance mechanisms by 2022. In three factories in Rangpur, in northwestern Bangladesh, KiK maintains a social programme to support local women to keep their jobs in the region so that they do not have to move to the capital for work.

Regarding efforts to promote freedom of association and collective bargaining, the service provider EcoVadis and KiK's new blockchain technology will help increase transparency in the supply chain and map all tier 2 suppliers by 2022. In addition, KiK intends to finance the "SMART Textile & Garments C" initiative from 2020 to 2022, which will address working conditions (including freedom of association) and environmental standards through advisory programmes, workshops and ad hoc measures. The company also voluntarily participates in the textile alliance's Living Wages Initiative, which addresses working conditions, including collective bargaining skills and environmental standards.

Health & safety and corruption

As far as health and safety measures (including building security) are concerned, KiK continues to comply with the requirements of the Bangladesh Accord and those of the Ready Made Garment Sustainability Council (RSC), which it plans to apply to 100 percent of tier 1 factories in Bangladesh. In addition, the company has transferred this responsibility in Pakistan to its own initiative "Pakistan Building Safety", which keeps conducting on-site building and fire safety assessments in all factories and will ensure that 65 percent of non-compliances are closed by 2022. A similar fire safety program will be introduced in India by 2022, initially with five factories.

To prevent corruption in its supply chain, all suppliers must agree to and sign KiK's Code of Conduct before starting business. In addition, all auditing institutes commissioned by KiK are to be contractually obliged to sign a liability clause.

Working hours, wages and social benefits

KiK will support the establishment of health and safety committees in 20 Chinese tier 1 garment factories, through which working hours will also be addressed. Using blockchain technology, they will then monitor major critical paths. The goal is to engage 50 global garment factories by 2022.

In terms of wages and social benefits, KiK participates in initiativen by the ILO, especially the ILO Call for Action: Covid-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry, the ACT self assessment on ethical purchasing by the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and its Living Wage Initiative.

Chemical management and environmental protection

KiK wants to gradually replace more than 160 problematic chemicals used in textile production with safe substances. In addition, the list of restrictions on chemicals will be communicated to 100 percent of tier 1 garment factories. In Bangladesh, the company will start a pilot project to record the chemicals used in two factories with wet processes in Bangladesh in cooperation with an external expert. Based on this, an action plan to reduce the contamination will be developed.

Along the entire supply chain, KiK wants to increase the number of ISO 14001 certificates to 40 compared to 2017. In addition, it also wants to increase the share of FSC cardboard in 100 percent of social products by 2021.


Animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions

KiK works together with external experts like the Fur Free initiative and the Four Paws organisation. In addition, the company signed an agreement on the subject of sheep in Australia.

As far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned, KiK intends to develop a roadmap within the framework of the Fashion Industry Charter. The company also plans to carry out a pilot project for the installation of solar panels on the roofs of three Pakistani factories by 2022.

Share of organic cotton remains at 1 percent

As far as the proportion of organic cotton used by KiK in its products is concerned, the discounter keeps lagging behind the average Partnership’s members: while the proportion of sustainable and organic cotton could be increased to around one third overall and is thus close to the target for 2020 of 35 percent, KiK is maintaining its own share of just one percent. In view of KiK's volume, however, this corresponds to 4.7 million items of clothing.

It now remains to be seen how the action plans drawn up - not only by KiK, but by all members of the Partnership of Sustainable Textiles - will be applied, especially in view of the shifting priorities in times of corona. According to the Partnership, its approximately 120 members currently account for about half of the turnover in the German textile market.



Photos: KiK partner factory in Yangoon, Myanmar; a first meeting with factory owners in Karachi / KiK

partnership for sustainable textiles