For some years we have therefore focused our work on supporting fabric mills in becoming more sustainable through voluntary programmes such as our Cleaner Production Programme. Our Mill Development Programme, which we started working on in 2008, targets fabric suppliers in China and Bangladesh that are key to our production and which we have the closest indirect business relationship with.
The programme is run in close co-operation with our quality team and aims to improve compliance at this second-tier stage of our value chain. Improvements are targeted with both our chemical restrictions and the environmental and safety requirements from our Code of Conduct following our Limited Audit Programme. All participating mills sign our Code of Conduct.
In 2012, 70 mills in China, 11 mills in Bangladesh and 9 mills in Pakistan have undergone the Programme. Following our first audits we have seen a major improvement in the practices in this sector, which has rarely been the subject of auditing by brands.
- The vast majority of the mills now meet wastewater requirements and where these have not been met, we have signed an agreement with the mill to make relevant improvements
- Most safety requirements are met and workers receive relevant training
- All participating mills now have sufficient policies and management systems in place to prevent child labour and to ensure proper recruitment processes.
Given the positive outcome of this programme, we made this Programme a routine element for suppliers when sourcing fabric from their key mills both in both China and Bangladesh.