Debenhams launches new sustainability programme


Debenhams, has launched a new sustainability programme with ambitious targets as it aims to set new benchmarks for UK department store retailing in the 2020s.

The new targets build on the progress made by Debenhams in the last year. In 2019, the business reduced by 22% the amount of packaging it uses, sourced over 2m garments made from sustainable cotton and reduced the number of clothes hangers sent from its stores to landfill to zero.

Debenhams has now announced a series of new commitments as it enters a new decade, including:

  • 100% of its cotton requirement to be from sustainable sources by 2022
  • All cotton garments in its Mantaray collection for the new 2020 season to be BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) sourced
  • A guarantee that, by September 2020, all own brand product sold in a Debenhams store will have at least one sustainable attribute
  • All lamination to be removed from swing tickets by December 2020
  • All swing tickets to be sourced using FSC  paper by December 2020

An operational takeback scheme to be rolled out to every store this spring to recycle old stock and samples in partnership with the charity NewLife, which supports disabled and terminally ill children and their families

To achieve these targets, Debenhams has tasked its sourcing, supply chain teams and manufacturing partners with pursuing more sustainable options across all its processes. It has set the specific objectives of sourcing sustainable packaging; reducing water and chemical use; reducing wastage and cost; and recycling and reusing materials wherever possible.
Debenhams’ director of stores, technology & supply chain, Angela Morrison, said: “As a senior leadership team, we are committed to examining everything we do with a more sustainable focus. There is still a lot for us to do but we made real progress in 2019.

“Reducing the amount of packaging we use by 22% is the equivalent of powering 79 British homes for a whole year. Additionally, we have sourced over 2m garments in sustainable cotton since joining the Better Cotton Initiative in August.

“And our standardised clothes hangers now use black plastic made of 98% recycled material, so we can recycle and reuse them in a closed loop. As a result, Debenhams has reduced COemissions from this product by 40% and now sends zero waste to landfill.”

Building on existing processes overlaid with these commitments will act as a platform for Debenhams to achieve its new sustainability goals.  

The retailer is standardising the swing tickets across all its own brands to a single size, manufactured with FSC certified papers including removal of plastic lamination.

With regards to using sustainable cotton, Debenhams has shown its commitment by sourcing almost 1m kg of BCI cotton already; the equivalent of 2.2 million pairs of jeans. Its renewed commitment is to source all of its cotton requirement sustainably – using BCI, organic or recycled fibre – by 2022.

The commitments made by Debenhams on behalf of its mainstream Mantaray collection and for the future, its Designer brand Hammond by Patrick Grant, follow the launch of a capsule designer collection last season, designed by Graduate Fashion Week award winner, Kate MacMahon. Each piece in the collection was made with a minimum of 50% sustainable fibres.

Steven Cook, Debenhams MD of Fashion, Home & Beauty, said: “In 2019, consumers spent increasing amounts on well-being and experiences and their focus on ethical and sustainable retailing is rising. These trends look set to continue in 2020 – fortunately department stores are well placed to cater for them. Our goal is that every product we sell should have at least one sustainable attribute.”