3 September 2018

Guideline on more sustainable textiles

The textiles industry, which primarily operates in developing and emerging countries, has positives and negatives. While the industry gives people in those countries the opportunity to improve their incomes and living conditions, human rights violations and pollution are also endemic. The REWE Group wants to play an active part in improving the social and environmental conditions associated with the manufacture of textiles.


Globally, 100 million farmers grow cotton for the textiles industry, and over 60 million people work in textiles manufacturing. The majority of textiles are produced in developing and emerging countries, where long working hours, inadequate pay, inadequate occupational health and safety,standards and child and forced labour are common occurrences. Safety standards are frequently lacking, leading to incidents such as the 2013 collapse of a textiles factory in Bangladesh with the loss of over 1,000 lives. In the fur and leather processing sectors, animal welfare and slaughtering conditions are critical. In addition, the textiles industry accounts for ten percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a major cause of water pollution due to high consumption and large quantities of chemically contaminated wastewater. The REWE Group recognises its responsibility to do all it can to prevent and eliminate problems of this nature in its textiles supply chains.

Our goals

The REWE Group’s objectives for more sustainable textiles fall into three different areas. To make its textiles supply chains fairer, the company intends to publish an annual list of all the production facilities for its in-house brands, auditing them in line with its social improvement programme, rectifying any safety shortcomings and working towards ensuring a living wage. To improve the conservation of resources, the REWE Group aims that 100 percent of its cotton will come from sustainable sources by 2025. In respect of animal welfare, the REWE Group has already achieved its target of prohibiting the sale of real fur in REWE, PENNY and toom stores.

Our measures

The REWE Group is implementing a range of measures to make its textiles supply chains more sustainable. To increase fairness, the REWE Group requires that its business partners meet minimum standards laid out in the applicable national and international laws, as well as the International Labour Organization’s core labour standards (ILO). This is certified through accredited social audits, such as those conducted by the BSCI. Furthermore, the company requires production facilities to carry out inspections, renovation and improvement work and fire prevention training and to establish occupational health and safety committees. Textile processing methods that are hazardous to health, such as sand blasting, have been phased out, as has the purchase of cotton from Uzbekistan, which has a poor record on child and forced labour. In respect of the conservation of resources, suppliers must meet OEKO-TEX®’s Standard 100. In addition, PRO PLANET suppliers are only permitted to process sustainable cotton that complies with the GOTS or CmiA standard. In terms of the management of chemicals, valid wastewater tests must be submitted, and the use of hazardous chemicals should be avoided. To uphold high standards of animal welfare, the REWE Group prohibits the use of certain materials, including real leather, cashmere and snakeskin, as well as practices such as live plucking.