Billionaires



July 24, 2019,   3:44 PM

This Is How The World’s Wealthiest Retailer Is Pioneering Sustainability

Jamila Gandhi

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Amancio Ortega, the billionaire owner of high street fashion retailer Zara will be adopting  100% sustainable fabrics in all of the brand’s collections before 2025. The Spanish company made the announcement at this month’s annual general meeting (AGM).

A pioneer in fast fashion,  the 83-year-old co-founded the world’s third-largest apparel company, Inditex, known for its Zara fashion chain, with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera in 1975. Today, he owns about 60% of Madrid-listed Inditex, which has eight brands, including Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, with 7,500 stores scattered globally. Although Zara contributes a whopping 70% of the group’s $29.15 billion revenues, the 2025 sustainability vision will be consistently applied across the other labels too.

Cotton, accounting for about 30% of all textile fiber consumption, is usually grown using a lot of water, pesticides and fertilizer, reports McKinsey. Their research estimates that making 1 kilogram of fabric generates an average of 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Eager to defend the negative connotations of their fast fashion title - owing to their release of 24 collections annually - Zara has been consistently revising and setting new sustainability goals.

Since 2015, the group has collected more than 34,000 tonnes of used stock, tapping on their more than 800  clothes banks in 24 regions, according to The Guardian. Nevertheless, Inditex’s executive chairman Pablo Isla highlighted at the AGM that “sustainability is a never-ending task in which everyone here at Inditex is involved and in which we are successfully engaging all of our suppliers; we aspire to play a transformational role in the industry”.

Another five-year sustainability target highlighted was how Zara will only use cotton, linen, and polyester that is organic, more sustainable or recycled by 2025. Whereas their mission to have 100% of Zara stores be eco-efficient by 2020, is currently on track to be achieved earlier than expected by the end of this year.

To tackle plastic waste, by 2020 all of the group’s brands will have eliminated single-use plastic shopping bags. Last year, only 18% of all bags were made of plastic, with Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti and Uterque already changed. The cumulative efforts gained the group the title of the most sustainable retailer from 2016 to 2018 by the Dow Jones sustainability index.



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