What are “sustainable materials”?
Sustainable materials are fibres that have been proven better for people and the planet in comprehensive testing. We compare sustainable alternatives with conventional counterparts – like how “Cotton Made in Africa” is farmed compared to traditional cotton. We want to ensure that these materials demonstrate clear improvements throughout key production phases (such as cultivation and weaving). As a “Sustainable Apparel Coalition” member, we’re also currently testing further instruments to assess how sustainable our materials are.
New sustainable alternatives to conventional materials are booming. Materials we consider to be sustainable include cotton from sustainable sources like Cotton Made in Africa, organic cotton, recycled cotton, LENZING Lyocell (TENCEL™), EcoVero™, recycled polyester like REPREVE®, recycled polyamide like Econyl, and FSC® certified wood.
We want to use 100% sustainably farmed cotton by 2020. In 2017, some 57 million products or around 76% of all our textiles were made using cotton from a sustainable source. Sustainability feels good – both for you when you wear our garments and for the people who help produce them.
In addition to cotton, we also want to up the amount of other sustainable materials in our collections. Our criteria state that when the share of sustainable material in a product’s shell reaches a minimum level, the product can be classed as sustainable. Learn more here.
Find out which sustainable materials we use below.
Obviously “Cotton made in Africa” comes from Africa. But what else does it mean?
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is 100% sustainably produced cotton from Africa. CmiA is an initiative by the Aid by Trade Foundation founded in 2005 by Dr Michael Otto, Head of the Otto Group’s supervisory board of which bonprix is a member. Thanks to the programme, over 1 million smallholder farmers from countries like the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are rewarded with much more than just cotton. They learn about more efficient, eco-friendly cultivation methods.
In concrete terms – unlike conventional cotton, no genetically modified seeds or hazardous pesticides are used. Sustainable cotton is also farmed using 2100 litres less water per kilo than its conventional counterpart, and with a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions. What does increase is the quality of the cotton and the farmers’ earnings. The initiative also encompasses programmes to prevent child labour, provide education and promote gender equality.
We are proud to support the CmiA initiative and want to extend it. By 2020, we aim to produce 100% of our cotton garments using only sustainable cotton. Yes, that’s right. Every single one of them.
That’s why we support„Cotton made in Africa”
Give the gift of a smile with every T-shirt I bonprix Sustainability
Our success is dependent on our planet’s natural resources so it’s paramount that we protect them, both at local level and globally. This short film about textile production in Uganda shows how every one of our T-shirts can give the gift of a smile.
Are recycled materials really sustainable?
Aside from how they are made, recycled fibres can be classed as sustainable because they are produced from existing materials. This saves resources and energy and helps protect our planet. Any recycled fibres we use in our products are shown by a logo in our online shops.
One way of producing recycled polyester is using old PET bottles. The bottles are collected, chopped, ground and melted.
The recycled polyester fibres we use are called REPREVE®. After being melted down, the PET bottles are reformulated into a chip before being processed into recycled fibres. From old to new – one pair of jeans or one jacket can be made from every eight recycled PET bottles.
The advantages of using recycled polyester are obvious. Unlike the production process of new polyester, the REPREVE® process requires less oil. It creates lower CO₂ emissions and requires fewer chemicals. The carbon footprint of a REPREVE® product is substantially lower than one made using virgin polyester fibres.
Recycled cotton is taken from pre-consumer off-cuts and post-consumer waste, like old clothes. The material is cut into smaller pieces and then spun to new cotton yarn.
Polyamide, or nylon as it’s often known, is a synthetic fibre that can be recycled. Recycled polyamide can be made from off-cuts, old carpets or old clothes. ECONYL® is a fibre made by the brand Aquafil using 100% recycled polymide (nylon) from waste products, like abandoned fishing nets or old carpet. The recycling process helps protect people, wildlife and our oceans. Producing just ten tonnes of ECONYL® from old materials not only saves around 11,000 litres of crude oil but avoids 57 tonnes of CO₂ emissions. And what’s more, the fiber can be recycled infinitely.
Factories working for us with recycled materials also need to be certified. That way we can ensure that for every step of the process only recycled materials are being used. We accept the certifications “Global Recycled Standard” (GRS) and the “Recycled Content Standard” (RCS). This doesn’t apply to REPREVE® as its fibres can be identified in the final product and are certified in accordance with GRS.
What other materials are there?
For cellulose-based fibres we use TENCEL ™ Lyocell or EcoVero™. Both are fibres developed by the Lenzing brand. Fibres are extracted from raw wood taken from sustainable forestry.
Unlike conventional viscose, the production of EcoVero™ creates lower emissions and saves more water. EcoVero™ fibres can also be identified in final products, allowing full traceability along the value-added chain. EcoVero™ is certified by the internationally recognised “EU Ecolabel”.
Its soft, cool, moisture-absorbent properties make the cellulose fibre LENZING Lyocell (TENCEL™) ultra comfy to wear. It’s produced using water, cellulose and non-toxic solvent, of which 99% is recyclable. A closed loop system means fibre production is extremely eco-friendly. There’s almost no waste and only very low emission levels.
Every time you purchase a FSC® certified product you contribute to the conservation of forest resources. The FSC® logo shows the wood used to make the product comes from well-managed forests and has been certified in line with the strict environmental, social and economic standards of the Forest Stewardship Council®. To obtain FSC® certification, ten standard global principles and 56 criteria apply.