Kathmandu, Sustainability and Supply Chain

In its sixth year, the latest Sustainability Report from travel and adventure brand Kathmandu can be used as a blueprint for Australian retailers on how to do “sustainable fashion”.

Kathmandu has raised the bar and embedded sustainability into its business strategy. As a result, the company has beaten its own targets when it comes to sustainability by working closely with individuals, environmental groups and even competitors to share best practice.

Kathmandu’s top priority in sustainability has been aligning with the Fair Labour Association to ensure global best practice in monitoring and improving worker’s rights in the supply chain. This work was acknowledged in 2017 with a B+ rating in the Ethical Fashion Report released in April, one of the highest rankings for a New Zealand based business.

In distribution, Kathmandu opened a new custom built 5 Green Star, 25,000 square metre distribution centre in Melbourne this year, which is the company’s third 5 Green Star Rated building and has been future-proofed with innovations in water use, energy and emissions.

Kathmandu, Sustainability and Supply Chain e-commerce retail news
Kathmandu’s 5 Green Star Distribution Centre in Melbourne

Kathmandu continued its ‘war on waste’ in-store by increasing its recycling rate to 72.8 percent, and is working more closely with landlords to increase recycling of soft plastics in shopping centres.

“Being a leader in sustainability is part of our DNA and we are extremely proud of our achievements this year,” says Tim Loftus, brand manager at Kathmandu.

“We know there is still more work to do and our zero waste to landfill goal for retail store waste is an extremely complex challenge across the retail industry. Driving sustainable innovation in this area is a top priority for the coming year,” says Loftus.

Kathmandu, Sustainability and Supply Chain e-commerce retail news

In 2017 alone, Kathmandu has recycled 3.9 million plastic bottles into gear, a three-fold increase on 2016 and outperforming its own 2017 target by 1.4 million. It also increased its use of sustainable cotton from 59 percent in 2016, to 74 percent in 2017, and is on track to achieve 100 percent sourcing of sustainable cotton within three years.

While these advances appeal to its loyal customer base, Kathmandu’s commitment to sustainability goes deeper than products in stores, extending across the supply chain to include some of the less consumer-friendly aspects of the fashion trade such as water usage, chemical waste and distribution.

At a manufacturing level, Kathmandu has reduced fresh water usage by 4.25 million litres in 2017 by introducing Recycolor cotton to its fabric mix. Made from cotton scraps gathered from factory floors and cutting tables, Recycolor cotton uses 70% less water than traditional cotton.

Kathmandu has also signed a partnership agreement with Bluesign, an independent chemical auditor which helps factories select chemicals which are safe to use, eliminate ‘black’ chemicals which are unsafe, and put in place best practice management strategies for those rated ‘silver’, or classified as usable with good management.

Kathmandu, Sustainability and Supply Chain e-commerce retail news sustainable fashion

About Kathmandu

Born from a desire to make outdoor adventure more comfortable and accessible to everyone, the Kathmandu journey originated in New Zealand and its first retail store was opened in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane in 1987. Kathmandu now has a retail presence in Australia, New Zealand, UK, US and Germany, with over 165 stores, four Kathmandu online stores, and distribution through Go Outdoors in the UK, and Otto and SportScheck in Germany.

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