Ecological Economics 83 (2012) 164–173
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The shaping of environmental impacts from Danish production and consumption of clothing Michael Søgaard Jørgensen ⁎, Charlotte Louise Jensen 1 Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Building 424, 2800 Kgs Lyngby, Denmark
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Article history: Received 18 December 2010 Received in revised form 15 March 2012 Accepted 1 April 2012 Available online 1 August 2012 Keywords: Environmental management Transnational Supply chain Product chain Consumer practice Clothing consumption
a b s t r a c t The article analyses environmental impacts from production and consumption of clothing in Denmark based on 10 business case studies, an ethnographic study of clothing practices among a group of young women, and a statistical analysis of clothing consumption. The environmental strategies and impacts are shaped by the businesses' on-going interpretation of external pressures and opportunities, transnational outsourcing of production to newly industrialised countries, changes towards ‘fast fashion’ and lower retail prices. Differences are identiﬁed with respect to whether and when companies take and embed environmental initiatives. The companies make environmental demands to suppliers in newly industrialised countries to different degrees. Some companies cancelled eco-labelling, because it was too demanding to manage, while some fashion companies recently launched eco-labelling, because they see a need to show environmental commitment publicly. The fast changing fashions and low price strategies encourage increased clothing consumption among young women, unused clothing in their wardrobes and frequent changes of clothing during the week. Concerns about environmental impacts are limited. The dominating business strategy of only few eco-labelled products seems to have had limited impact on these women's practices, and thereby on the environmental impacts from Danish consumer choices in general. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction ‘Sustainable consumption and production’ is one of the more recent environmental concepts (see e.g. EU, 2008). This concept calls for the development of links between the research in production dynamics and environmental management dynamics, and the research in consumption dynamics. Not least the high resource consumption per capita in so-called developed or industrialised countries and the simultaneous outsourcing of production from these countries to Eastern Europe and newly industrialised countries like China, India, Pakistan etc. call for knowledge about the shaping of the globalised systems of production and consumption and the related environmental impacts. Clothing is one of the sectors where substantial parts of the production in the industrialised countries have been outsourced. Cleaner technology and eco-labelling initiatives in the industrialised countries have been launched more or less parallel to this outsourcing of production. Furthermore, the frequency with which new products are introduced has increased (so-called ‘fast fashion’) (Bhardwaj and Fairhurst, 2010), and the consumption of clothing in the industrialised countries has grown (see e.g. Hille, 1995 and Behrendt et al., 2003). This article contributes to the development of links between production and ⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: + 45 45 25 60 24; fax: + 45 45 93 34 35. E-mail addresses: [email protected]
(M.S. Jørgensen), [email protected]
(C.L. Jensen). 1 Present address: Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, A.C. Meyers Vænge 15, 2450 Copenhagen SV, Denmark. Tel.: + 45 26 81 50 10. 0921-8009/$ – see front matter © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.04.002
consumption research by combining case studies from several years of research on the shaping of environmental management in companies and product chains in the Danish clothing sector (Forman and Jørgensen, 2004; Jørgensen, 2006; Jørgensen et al., 2010; Kawansson and Roy, 2002; Stranddorf et al., 2002; Thomsen, 2007) with a recent study of clothing practices among young Danish women (Jensen, 2010). Denmark is interesting to analyse in this respect, since Denmark is one of the countries in the European Union with the highest number of EU ﬂower eco-labelled textile and clothing products, both in absolute and relative terms. The article discusses the following question: How have the interactions since the 1990s among business strategies, product chain dynamics, market dynamics and public regulation shaped the environmental management practices in the Danish clothing sector and Danish consumers' clothing practices and the related environmental impacts? Other articles about environmental management in product chains have analysed cases within the textile and clothing sector, including Goldbach (2002), Kogg (2002), Roberts (2003), and Seuring (2004); but no studies have analysed environmental management in several clothing companies over a longer time period, and included the inﬂuence of business strategies on consumer practices. The article is structured as follows: After a presentation of the methodological and theoretical framework, an overview of public regulation and public discourses within the clothing sector is presented. Then, the results from the case studies and the ethnographic
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study are presented and patterns in the shaping of environmental management practices and clothing practices discussed.
• Tools and organisational structures in environmental management: how the environmental initiatives were organised, and what tools (e.g. eco-labelling) were used.
2. Methodology The article is based on the following analyses: A) an analysis of corporate environmental management practices in the Danish clothing sector combined with other data about market dynamics and environmental management in the clothing sector; B) an ethnographic study of a group of young Danish women's clothing practices, combined with a national statistical analysis of consumption of clothing and clothing prices in Denmark; C) a literature review about public regulation and public discourses in relation to clothing and environment. The three analyses are combined by discussing the inﬂuence of the dynamics identiﬁed in analysis A on the dynamics identiﬁed in analysis B. Analysis C provides a framework for discussing the issues that are addressed by companies and consumers and the issues that are not addressed. Analyses A and B are explained in detail in the following. 2.1. Methodology for Analysing Environmental Management Practices One part of this analysis is 10 case studies of the shaping of environmental management practices in clothing companies within design, manufacturing and retail sales in Denmark, and with sourcing activities in Eastern Europe or newly industrialised countries. The material for the case studies was collected through a research project ﬁnanced by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (Stranddorf et al., 2002), a study of the textile and clothing sector within an EUfunded project about impact of governmental regulation on waste management (Jørgensen, 2006), a study of the role of environmental management systems in transnational product chains (Jørgensen et al., 2010), and two master thesis projects at Technical University of Denmark (Kawansson and Roy, 2002; Thomsen, 2007). The funding agencies have had no inﬂuence on the analyses in the projects or on this article. The 10 cases cover a variety of companies with regard to size (small, medium-size and large), product chain coverage (design, manufacturing and/or retailing) and market segment (children, men, women). The companies include both companies known to have taken environmental initiatives and companies about which it was not known beforehand whether or not they had taken environmental initiatives. Interviews with corporate representatives, and in some cases also with suppliers (only in Stranddorf et al., 2002) were important sources of data for the case studies The case studies were updated through the ongoing collection of data about the case companies from corporate websites and reports, in order to follow the emergence, embedding or terminating of environmental management initiatives. The companies are made anonymous and characterised by the type and size of the company. The results from the 10 updated case studies are cumulated through a meta-analysis inspired by Jensen and Rodgers (2001), in order to analyse the environmental management practices within the sector during a time span of 15–20 years. The metaanalysis is a combination of patchwork case studies, since the individual case companies were analysed at different points in time in order to obtain a within-unit longitudinal study of each company and a comparative study with cross-unit comparison of the different companies during the same time period (Jensen and Rodgers, 2001). A template for cumulating the case study ﬁndings was developed that includes the following aspects (applied in the later Table 2): • Type of company: size and market segment and main activities, such as production, retailing etc. • Changes in sense-making in environmental management practice: driving forces behind emergence, embedding or terminating environmental management initiatives. • Product chain relations: types of relations with suppliers: short-term or long-term, degree of cooperation with suppliers etc.
Seuring (2008) stresses that research based on case studies about supply chain management – including environmental management – is often based on positive stories from companies that have made environmental efforts. This article solves this problem by including interviews not only with pro-active companies but also with more reactive companies, and also informal interviews with persons from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and consultants within the sector about difﬁculties in interesting companies in eco-labelling. 2.2. Methodology for Analysing Clothing Practices A statistical analysis of the changes in average annual private purchase of clothing and footwear among Danish consumers from 2000 to 2007 was carried out in order to assess the recent trends in clothing practices. (Since it was not possible to obtain data for only clothing, the combination of clothing and footwear purchases had to be chosen). In order to obtain knowledge about individual clothing practices and their shaping, an ethnographic study of six young women's clothing practices was carried out. The women were either students or academics. They are analytically seen as critical cases in the sense that as well-educated women, they should be more likely than the average consumer to consider environmental concerns in their clothing practices. This implies that if these women only show limited environmental concerns in their clothing practices, it is likely that Danish consumers in general would show limited environmental concerns in their clothing practices. The ethnographic study was based on analyses of the women's individual diaries, which they wrote for a period of 5 days about their thoughts and routines when dressing. The analyses were followed by a personal, semi-structured research interview with each of the women, including an assessment of the background for buying and using, or not using, each piece of clothing in the their wardrobes. Finally, a focus group interview was carried out about the possible roles of different environmental strategies, such as eco-labelling (Jensen, 2010). 3. Theoretical Focus This section presents the article's theoretical approaches. Supply chain management theory is used for characterising customer-supplier relations, and is combined with a framework for analysing the relations between public regulation, market forces, product chain structures and corporate practices in transnational product chains. The ethnographic study of clothing practices is based on practice theory, which focuses on both ﬂuidity and inertia of daily activities, e.g. the purchase and use of clothing. 3.1. Supply Chain Management The relations between customers and suppliers within product chains can be very different. In the analyses of the product chain relations and their interaction with environmental management practice, Schary and Skjøtt-Larsen (2002) and Cox (2004) provide the background for the characterisation of customer–supplier relations. According to Schary and Skjøtt-Larsen (2002), these relations can be found on a continuum between market conditions and hierarchies. The term ‘market conditions’ implies that suppliers of materials, services etc. might change from time to time on the basis of the best price, while the term ‘hierarchies’ implies that a company integrates a certain competence into its own organisation. Between these extremes are a number of hybrid forms in which some competence is held by the customer and some offered by the supplier. Table 1 gives an overview of the different
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Table 1 Typology of relationships to suppliers. The strategic importance of the relationship increases from top to bottom in the table (based on Schary and Skjøtt-Larsen, 2002, pp. 183–193 and Cox, 2004). Type of relationship to supplier
Characteristics of the relations to the supplier
On-going supplier selection
Frequent “shopping” among potential suppliers based on price comparison between the suppliers. Demands multiple potential suppliers and stable market conditions. More long-term contract periods with a limited number of suppliers and some exchange of planning information. Supply by a single supplier for a period for a certain good or service. Relevant with goods and services linked directly to the core competencies of the company. If there is more than one supplier within an area, the practice is called “parallel sourcing”. Focus on voluntary arrangements with exchange of staff, sharing of information, and/or co-development of goods and services. Relevant with high speciﬁcity of demands for goods and services or when suppliers complement the customer's capabilities.
Preferred suppliers Single or parallel sourcing
that activities like buying and wearing clothes are not necessarily seen as consumption of resources that are materialised in clothes, and therefore people do not necessarily see their clothing practice as having environmental impacts. 4. Overall Dynamics of Production and Consumption of Clothing
types of customer-supplier relationships. The strategic importance of the relationships increases from top to bottom in the table. 3.2. Environmental Management in Transnational Product Chains The analyses of corporate environmental management practices in the Danish clothing sector are based on a network approach, inspired by Hansen (1999), where environmental management in transnational product chains is seen as being shaped in the interactions among different forces: • Regulatory forces: international regulation, national public regulation, and business initiatives regulating companies in transnational product chains • Market forces: the role of price, quality, environmental orientation etc. within different parts of the market • Sector-speciﬁc forces: the product chain structures in the sector and the strategies for inﬂuence, control, competition and collaboration among the companies in product chains • Company-speciﬁc forces: the sourcing company's corporate strategy. Hansen (1999) refers to two types of transnational product chains: management of controlled afﬁliates and management of noncontrolled foreign entities (organised through franchising, licencing, subcontracting or strategic alliances). According to Hansen (1999), this kind of environmental management practice falls within the range from adaptation to weak, local regulation practice in supplying countries to global integration, where a sourcing company practises the same responsibility in its relations to foreign suppliers or afﬁliates as it does in its home country. 3.3. Practice Theory The dynamics behind clothing consumption have been analysed through a practice theory perspective, which focuses on the shaping of everyday life activities. According to Røpke (2009), “individuals face practices-as-entities as these are formed historically as a collective achievement; and through their own practices-as-performance, individuals reproduce and transform the entities over time. Individuals thus act as ‘carriers of practices’” (Røpke, 2009). Getting dressed, as an everyday activity, is seen as a practice with certain norms and routines, which is acted out when choosing what to buy and what to wear. However, performing a certain practice in daily activities does not necessarily make people aware of the fact that when they perform the practice, they are consuming resources (Røpke, 2009). This implies
As a background for the analyses of the Danish clothing sector, this section describes some overall dynamics of production and consumption of clothing. The clothing sector (and the textile sector) is a very distributed and heterogeneous sector with a globalised structure in large parts of the sector, where production and consumption take place in different countries and sometimes different continents. The clothing product chains are composed of a wide number of sub-sectors covering the entire production cycle from the production of raw materials (ﬁbres) to semi-processed products (yarn and fabrics with their ﬁnishing processes) and ﬁnal products. Around 55% of the world production of ﬁbres for clothing and textiles are synthetic ﬁbres, and around 45% are different types of natural ﬁbres (mainly cotton) (Allwood et al., 2006). An increasing share of the clothes sold in Denmark is manufactured in Eastern Europe and in newly industrialised countries. Furthermore, while design takes place in Denmark, an increasing share of the products exported from Denmark has been manufactured elsewhere (Stranddorf et al., 2002). Employment in the Danish textile and clothing industry decreased by around 40% during the 1990s (DTB, 2001), and a similar decrease was seen for the European industry as a whole (Walters et al., 2005). Around two-thirds of the Danish export from the sector is clothes and the remaining one-third textiles. The latter includes different product groups like medical textiles, interior textiles and fabrics, more of which are manufactured in Denmark. Until 2005, textile and clothing was the only major manufacturing sector still subject to the use of quotas, which limited the export from certain countries, including China, to the US and EU. The cancellation of quotas in 2005 was part of the ATC-agreement (Agreement on Textile and Clothing) negotiated within WTO and caused a fast increase in imports from China to the US (200%) and the EU (90%) and a decrease in manufacturing in the US and EU and in a number of South East Asian countries. These changes were followed by a special transition agreement between the EU and China, which limits increases in Chinese exports (ILO, 2005). Clothing consumption in the Western countries has been increasing since the 1960s. Behrendt et al. (2003) report increasing clothing sales in Germany during the 1990s. Røpke (2000) mentions increasing sales of garments and footwear in Norway. Norwegian consumption of clothes and footwear grew by 21% from 1997 to 1999, while its share of household consumption expenses remained stable (Hille, 2000), which indicates relatively decreasing prices, probably due to increased outsourcing and stronger global competition. According to Allwood et al. (2006), the average purchased volume of clothing per UK capita increased by 37% from 2001 to 2005. Spending for women's clothing grew by 21% and for men's clothing by 14%, while prices decreased by 14% in real terms. This increasing consumption has occurred parallel with changes in the innovation strategies in the clothing sector towards what is called ‘fast fashion’ (Bhardwaj and Fairhurst, 2010). Until the mid-1980s, success in the fashion industry was based on low-cost mass production of standardised styles that did not change frequently. However, towards the beginning of the 1990s, retailers started focusing on expanding their product range with updated products and faster responsiveness to new fashions from the fashion shows. Bhardwaj and Fairhurst (2010) describe an addition of three to ﬁve mid-seasons, which put pressure on suppliers to deliver fashion apparel in smaller batches with reduced lead time. Retailers like Zara and Hennes & Mauritz changed their strategies towards faster adoption of the latest fashions from fashion shows, and introduced interpretations of the new designs
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to the stores within 3 to 5 weeks in order to attract consumers. Bhardwaj and Fairhurst (2010) argue that this change towards more seasons was in contradiction to the practice of outsourcing production to low-cost countries, because outsourcing led to longer lead times and complicated supply chains due to geographic distances, inconsistency and variability in processes at both ends of the chain, and complex import–export procedures. According to Bhardwaj and Fairhurst (2010), little is known about the factors shaping different consumer groups' purchases, such as the roles of exclusivity, price-consciousness, purchase for future use, risk of trade-off between quality and price, consumer satisfaction after previous purchase, and consumers' cost–beneﬁt analysis. 5. Environmental Regulation of the Clothing Sector This section gives a short overview of recent international public regulation and joint business initiatives focusing on environmental impacts of the clothing sector. 5.1. Regulation of Cotton Growing Since the major share of the cotton used in European textiles and clothing is harvested outside of Europe, the international regulation of chemicals affects most of the cotton used in clothing production that involves Danish production and consumption of clothing. The Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons and includes mechanisms for the decisions of importing countries as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of the most hazardous chemicals and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting countries (Rotterdam Convention, 2012). Organic growing of cotton prevents the use and emission of pesticides. Projects have developed national certiﬁcation capacity in some Eastern European countries (e.g. the Baltic countries and Ukraine) and some newly industrialised countries (e.g. Vietnam and India), whereby advice and certiﬁcation of farmers can be conducted at lower cost (Helvetas, 2006). 5.2. Public and Private Regulation of Clothing Industry Activities in large European clothing manufacturing companies are regulated by the EU IPPC Directive (EU, 1996). According to the IPPC Reference Document on the best available technologies for the textile and clothing industry, “the main environmental concern in the textile industry is about the amount of water discharged and the chemical load it carries. Other important issues are energy consumption, air emissions, solid wastes and odours, which can be a signiﬁcant nuisance in certain treatments” (IPPC, 2003). Partly prior to and partly parallel with the implementation of the IPPC Directive, cleaner production programmes were launched in several European countries, including programmes focusing on the clothing industry. The Dutch and Danish governments have both also developed frameworks for transfer of cleaner technology experiences to Eastern European countries (BECO Group Project Proﬁle, 2006; Wenzel et al., 1999). The business-to-business partnerships between Danish companies and companies in developing countries receiving Danish development aid have also included the clothing industry (Folke, 2009). The outsourcing of manufacturing to developing and newly industrialised countries implies that the national governments of the sourcing companies have no inﬂuence on the protection of the environment (and working conditions), which the sourcing and supplying companies practice. Criticism of bad working conditions, not least in the textile and clothing industry, has led to development of several private governance initiatives. However, such initiatives as the US-based FLA (Fair Labor Association) and the UK-based Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which
are alliances of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations, have their focus on working conditions and do not directly focus on environmental protection (Ethical Trading Initiative, 2012; FLA Fair Labor Association, 2012). The more recently developed global business initiative, BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative), indicates that auditing suppliers has become more time-consuming for both the sourcing companies and their suppliers. BSCI is a business-driven platform for social and environmental compliance in supplier countries in relation to consumer goods. Through pooling efforts and resources, BSCI has developed a common monitoring and factory development system (Business Social Compliance Initiative, 2007, 2009). BSCI covers both working conditions and environmental issues and aims to reduce the resources for auditing in both the sourcing and supplying companies through similar auditing criteria and exchange of audit reports (Business Social Compliance Initiative, 2007, 2009). Several sourcing clothing companies are BSCI members. 5.3. Product-Related Regulation During the 1990s, European governments developed restrictions regarding residues of chemicals in clothing due to health concerns. Especially the German government's ban on azo-dyes had impact throughout the sector, and was later the basis for an EU ban on 22 azo-dyes (Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, 1999). Another type of product-related regulation is eco-labelling. The present EU directive on Eco-labelling was launched in 2009 (EU, 2009a) as an adjustment of the original scheme from 1992. Eco-labelling is a market-based instrument meant to stimulate both supply and demand of products with reduced environmental impacts on different parts of the life cycles. The eco-label criteria for clothing contain demands for limits on toxic residues in ﬁbres and air and water pollution from processing. Furthermore, the criteria limit the use of substances harmful to the environment during production, use and waste handling of the products (EU, 2009b). A recent public regulation initiative that inﬂuences production, import and retail sale of clothing is the EU regulation of chemicals through the REACH directive (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), which came into force in 2007 to be phased in over a period of 11 years. The directive aims to ensure that manufacturers and importers identify so-called ‘substances very high concern’ (SVHC) in products entering the EU, in order to control and limit the risks these chemicals pose to human health and environment. Companies manufacturing, importing and/or selling clothing in the EU should ensure that the chemicals they or their suppliers use are registered for this kind of use and covered by an exposure scenario. Otherwise, the company must ask the supplier to include this use in an exposure scenario or perform its own safety analysis (EU, 2011, 2012a, 2012b). The challenge for importers is to have procedures that can keep them updated about substances that will be regulated in the future. 6. Results: Environmental Management Practices in Danish Clothing Companies This section presents the analyses of the shaping of environmental management practices in 10 Danish clothing companies that are targeting the consumer market and are part of transnational product chains. The characteristics and environmental management practices of the companies are summarised in Table 2. The companies shown in Table 2 present a picture of environmental management and public regulation within the clothing sector in Denmark from around 1990 towards the end of 2000s. In the following, the case studies are presented in detail, together with changes in public regulation of the clothing sector, in order to identify the
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Table 2 Development in the case companies' environmental management initiatives and their product chains from the beginning of 1990s towards the end of 2000s (based on updated case studies in Stranddorf et al. (2002), Kawansson and Roy (2002), Forman and Jørgensen (2004), Jørgensen (2006), Thomsen (2007) and Jørgensen et al. (2010)). The text about each company is written chronologically from the top and downwards in the sense-making column, if the sense-making has changed during the period analysed. Type of company
Changes in sense-making in environmental Product chain relations to suppliers management
Tools and organisational structures in environmental management
1. Danish international supermarket chain
Phasing out PVC because governmental regulation makes it too complicated to sell Supporting public-private sector initiative by including eco-labelled products in assortment Green proﬁle part of business strategy Own eco-label licences Later support to public–private sector initiative by procuring eco-labelled products and cancelling own licences Minimizing environmental impact to reduce risks of bad reputation Later positioning on growing sustainable clothing market Positioning one of the women's brands associated with natural colours as environmental friendly
Integration of demands in procurement agreements Searching for suppliers where similar demands have been raised Eco-labelling Member of international CSR initiative Eco-labelling Code of conduct in joint procurement company Joint procurement company member of international CSR initiative Chemical restrictions Code-of-conduct Eco-labelling licences
2. Danish supermarket chain
3. Danish fashion garment company — partly selling through own shops
4. Danish fashion garment company
5. Women fashion company
6. Danish men's garment retail chain 7. Small green mail-order company
Experiment with eco-labelling inspired by public-private sector initiative and daughter company Initiative skipped soon after Do not experience environmental demands from customers Lack of eco-clothing without health risks for own child initiates start of company
8. Manufacturer of green clothing (SME)
Offer of greener process option from supplier Inspiration from public debate German market opportunities Later supplementing own eco-trademark with public eco-label licences 9. Manufacturer of green clothing (SME) Market opportunities on German mail-order market for environmentally friendly clothing 10. Manufacturer of clothing (SME)
Market opportunities for private eco-label Skipped eco-labelled part of assortment when problems created in relation to customers Public funding of joint project with supplier in Asian developing country
interpretations made by the case companies as part of their shaping of their environmental management practice. Traditionally, the clothing manufacturing companies using wet treatment were the only companies in the sector targeted by Danish environmental regulation. The regulation focused on waste water emissions of hazardous chemicals, and later, also air emissions of formaldehyde because of its carcinogenic effect. These companies are regulated by the municipal environmental authorities. The preventive activities that focused on the sector were initiated by the National Environmental Protection Agency, and they have followed a path similar to several other industrial sectors in Denmark (Remmen and Ramussen, 1999): • 1980s: environmental survey of the industry • Beginning of 1990s: development and demonstration of cleaner technologies • Mid-1990s: sector-based projects on environmental management and attempts to create a product-oriented approach • From the end of the 1990s: product oriented initiatives
Supplier selection based on adversarial leverage
Parallel sourcing — in Asia through joint international procurement company
Adversarial leverage Problems in developing co-operation with supplier Parallel sourcing from a number of brand companies Supplier selection based on environmental criteria Initiating direct co-operation with suppliers of organic cotton Strategic alliances with important suppliers Acquisition of preferred supplier
Mediating company certiﬁes some existing suppliers and mediates to already certiﬁed suppliers Selling conversion cotton “Track and trace” to increase transparency in product chains through facilitating agent Membership of international CSR initiative Eco-labelling Code-of-conduct with overall environmental objectives Considering to substitute the plastic packaging of the products with paper Collecting supplier information as basis for choices among suppliers Finding out where similar companies buy Own private eco-trademark SCM-system based on ISO 9001 and 14001 Annual dialogue with suppliers Transfer of Danish technology when outsourcing
Parallel sourcing from preferred suppliers Organising dialogue with customer and suppliers based on customer demands Strategic alliance with organic cotton Labelling within international natural supplier and German customer textile scheme Single sourcing from different suppliers Building trust in foreign suppliers through for different quality levels personal visits Development project with Asian supplier
6.1. Early Preventive Initiatives Case company 8, primarily a T-shirt manufacturer, was a frontrunner in terms of cleaner technology activities, and later again in relation to environmental management systems, when a sector-based programme was introduced in the mid-1990s. At that time, this was a rather young company based on the idea of ‘green textiles’ with its main market in Germany, where the demand for less polluting products was stronger at that time than in Denmark. The company introduced its own private eco-label before the EU eco-label was introduced. After some years, price competition forced the company to outsource the labour intensive parts of its production, and some years later, most of its production. More recently, the company bought the most strategic foreign supplier. The company decided from the beginning to try to ensure the same level of protection of the environment and work environment in the outsourced activities as in Denmark. The company has a partnership approach to their suppliers, based on an integrated quality, environmental and work environmental management system
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and annual meetings with the strategic suppliers about targets and plans for the coming years (Stranddorf et al., 2002). Case 10 shows how an eco-label initiative can inspire other companies within the same product area. The company was offered the use of the private eco-label developed by case 8, and started selling an ecolabelled product line. However, the company skipped this product line after a short period, because it was too complicated to explain to retail shops why only some products were eco-labelled and why nonlabelled products were still produced. The eco-labelled products were also more expensive without offering substantial environmental beneﬁts (Stranddorf et al., 2002). In case 9, a symmetric partnership between the company and its customer and suppliers was developed as part of the environmental management, because the case company did not have environmental and technical competence itself. When the main German customer raised new demands, the Danish company organised dialogue with the customer and the relevant supplier(s) in order to ﬁnd out how to implement these demands. The company chose to concentrate its sourcing on fewer suppliers in order to become a more strategic customer, and thereby make the suppliers more willing to fulﬁl special demands (Stranddorf et al., 2002). During the 1990s, some small green entrepreneurs developed within the textile and clothing sector, such as case 7, which developed as a green mail order company. After attempts to cooperate on product development with a bigger company as supplier, the case company realised that it had to develop a more reactive strategy towards suppliers, because it would have to buy much bigger quantities of new products than possible, given its annual sales. Instead, it developed a strategy that involves collecting information about potential suppliers at fairs and choosing suppliers on the basis of this information and where similar companies are sourcing (Stranddorf et al., 2002).
6.2. Institutionalisation of Product-oriented Regulation Towards the end of the 1990s in Denmark, product-oriented regulation was institutionalised within the textile and clothing sector with the formation of a co-operative sector policy network, a so-called product panel, funded by the National Environmental Protection Agency as part of the national product-oriented environmental policy. Members came from the textile and clothing industry (including case 8), retail chains selling textiles and clothing (including cases 1 and 2), a consumer NGO, and a NGO focusing on allergy (Forman and Jørgensen, 2004; Remmen and Ramussen, 1999; Stranddorf et al., 2002). The product panel had a strong focus on eco-labelling as a market-oriented environmental strategy, and developed through agreements among suppliers and customers in the panel an ecolabelling campaign. In this campaign, the industry should start producing eco-labelled products, while retailers (e.g. cases 1 and 2) would strengthen their focus on eco-labelled textiles and clothing. Thereby, the panel initiated an integrated development of supply and demand. The two supermarket chains (cases 1 and 2) organise such more demanding environmental initiatives as the development of ecolabelled textiles and clothing together with Danish suppliers, not with suppliers in developing or newly industrialised countries. Both companies mentioned limited personnel resources and competence necessary to audit suppliers as barriers to developing management of environmental issues in transnational product chains (Stranddorf et al., 2002; Thomsen, 2007). This might explain why both companies later became members of BSCI (Jørgensen et al., 2010). The product-oriented environmental policy initiative also attracted more reactive companies in terms of environmental management, such as case 5. Like case 10, case 5 skipped its eco-labelling strategy quite soon, because the development of a more cooperative relationship with suppliers was found to be too complicated (Kawansson and Roy, 2002).
Later, the product panel initiative terminated when public funding from 2004 was no longer available for the management and support of the product panel. A more informal network of textile and clothing companies with eco-label licences was formed instead (Anon., n.a.). During the period when the product panel existed, the role of ecolabelling was limited, because the fashion industry did not want to use eco-labels. The fashion industry viewed marketing an eco-label to be contradictory to marketing their fashion brands (Thomsen, 2007). However, more recently, two fashion companies (cases 3 and 4) changed their environmental strategy towards a market-oriented strategy, where eco-labelling is seen as a prerequisite for their brands' survival on the market (Thomsen, 2007). With respect to case 3, the labelling strategy is second-generation of their environmental management. Increased media attention regarding the environmental impacts of textile and clothing production in newly industrialised countries motivated the company to make their long-standing environmental management, which restricted suppliers' use of chemicals, more visible. The chemical strategy is based on guidelines for chemical use and a code of conduct developed by the company, which the suppliers are required to follow (Thomsen, 2007). The company claims that this chemical strategy ensures compliance with the REACH directive. Case 3 has also shown its more public-oriented environmental strategy as one of the initiators of The Danish Ethical Trading Initiative, which is a partnership bringing together trade unions, business associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and companies to promote ethical trade and responsible supply chain management among Danish companies. The initiative is funded by the Danish development aid agency and through membership fees (DIEH, 2011). The other fashion company (case 4) has chosen to introduce organic cotton products, but only within a brand characterised by bright and natural colours and targeting women aged 30+. Case 4, like cases 1 and 2, is a member of the BSCI and also cooperates with the facilitating company MADE-BY, which has developed a concept that makes supply chains more transparent. MADE-BY can also help present suppliers of a company become certiﬁed for organic production and/or facilitate contact between a company and some already existing certiﬁed suppliers (MADE-BY, 2005; Thomsen, 2007). Cases 3 and 4 claim that competitor activities are not the background for their own initiatives (Thomsen, 2007). However, some of their competitors have, during the same period, also introduced more market-oriented environmental strategies based on ecolabelling and organic cotton, like Levi's (CSRwire.com, 2006) and Hennes & Mauritz (Thomsen, 2007). It is therefore likely that some kind of market isomorphism has taken place. One of the case companies, case 6, has not taken any environmental initiatives, apart from considering to change part of the product packaging from a fossil resource (plastic) to a renewable resource (paper/cardboard). The background for not taking environmental initiatives is lack of consumer demands for products integrating environmental concerns (Thomsen, 2007). This does not imply that this company is the only Danish clothing company not taking environmental initiatives. On the contrary, environmental concerns do not seem to play a role in a substantial part of the Danish clothing market; many shops do not sell eco-labelled products and they do not advertise any environmental concern (Jørgensen et al., 2010; Thomsen, 2007). 7. Results: the Shaping of Clothing Practices Analysis of the average Danish consumption of clothing and footwear showed an 11% increase in volume from 2000 to 2007. Spending increased by 9% and the relative prices decreased by 2 to 3% (Statistics Denmark, 2002–2009, 2010). The study of the six young Danish women's clothing practices identiﬁed several similarities in the six practices (Jensen, 2010). Such aspects as low retail prices, the pleasant feeling of buying and wearing new clothes, and the wish to change one's personal expression implied a high level of clothing purchases among these women. The women
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spend less time considering their purchases if the price is low, which implies – according to the women – that some purchased clothing items are used only once or never used at all. The amount of clothes in their wardrobes differs. Most of the women have so large a stock of clothes that some clothing items are left in the back of the wardrobe and then forgotten. From their stock of clothes, the women use rather few items that they regard as ‘safe’ with respect to expressing their personalities. Two women, who do not have a big stock of clothes, often discard clothes or give them to second-hand shops. The study also shows that the women feel that colleagues and friends expect them to make frequent changes of clothes during the week and to purchase new clothes. One woman expressed this as a dilemma. She would prefer not to have to think too much about how she dresses, but is afraid of her social network's judgement. These women's level of education does not imply a high level of environmental concern in relation to clothing. Only one of the women expresses concern about the environmental impacts of large amounts of clothes, but this is not reﬂected in her practice. The women experience eco-labelled clothes as rather boring, and do not want environmental concerns to limit the possibilities for choosing style, colour etc. (Jensen, 2010). 8. Discussion This section discusses cross-cutting themes in the shaping of environmental management practices. Comparisons are made with other studies, and the relations between production dynamics and consumption dynamics are discussed. 8.1. Emergence and Embedding of Environmental Management Practices The 10 case studies show how company-speciﬁc interpretations of public regulation, product chain dynamics and market dynamics have continuously caused different practices in the sector with respect to whether and when environmental management practices emerge and become embedded. The different practices identiﬁed are as follows: • Preventive environmental initiatives taken early on, and a preventive practice continues (cases 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9) • Preventive environmental initiatives taken early on, but these initiatives were later cancelled (case 10) • Preventive environmental initiatives taken later, and a practice with this focus still continues (cases 1 and 4) • Preventive environmental initiatives taken later, but these initiatives were cancelled again (case 5) • No environmental initiatives have been taken (case 6). The public regulation that has inﬂuenced the environmental management practices consists of voluntary programmes within cleaner technology, environmental management, and eco-labelling. The companies that could be called ‘early movers’ are different in terms of their roles in the product chain and their size. Examples of early movers are two very different Danish retailers (a big cooperative retail chain and a small on-line retail entrepreneur), and four clothing companies involved in design and with different mixtures of own production and sourcing of products. Driving forces have been translation of public discourses, especially the discourse about pesticides and processing chemicals translated into ‘green’ market development efforts, offers by Danish suppliers involved in cleaner technology activities, or the wish to safeguard an existing market position by increasing demands to suppliers. The differences in corporate strategies with respect to emergence and embedding of environmental initiatives, and also the quite different types of early mover companies, are in accordance with HowardGrenville et al. (2008), who point out that different practices can be expected within a sector, because environmental decision-making in
companies is shaped in ‘complex interactions between internal organisational factors and external pressures’. 8.2. Transnational Environmental Management Practices Since substantial parts of both Danish industrial clothing production and retailers' sourcing of clothing have been moved to countries with less strict environmental regulation, the transnational environmental management of this international sourcing is important. The case studies identify a number of different strategies among the companies. Some companies practice more than one of these strategies. The strategies mentioned ﬁrst in the following list imply a higher level of cooperation with foreign suppliers than those strategies mentioned at the bottom of the list: • Environmental up-grading projects in cooperation with foreign suppliers; in some cases ﬁnanced by development aid (cases 8, 9 and 10) • Environmental upgrading among transnational suppliers in cooperation with a facilitating actor (MADE-BY) (case 4) • Following in the wake of other sourcing companies with a similar level of environmental concern, based on sharing audit reports through a facilitating agent (BSCI) or other ways of obtaining information about potential suppliers (cases 1, 2, 4 and 7) • Environmental projects organised with Danish suppliers and not with suppliers in developing or newly industrialised countries, because the latter is too resource demanding (cases 1 and 2) • Development of tools like chemical restrictions and codes of conduct, which the suppliers should live up to (cases 3, 4 and 5) • No environmental demands raised towards the suppliers (case 6) The differences in the extent of the environmental demands that Danish clothing companies make to suppliers in developing and newly industrialised countries, combined with weak enforcement of public environmental regulation in these countries, may explain why the clothing sector in such countries, according to for example Robins and Roberts (1997), is divided into three parts: I) a part with the highest level of environmental protection due to environmental demands by Western customers; II) a part with a medium level of protection, which is not met with environmental demands by their Western customers; and III) a part primarily serving the domestic markets and practicing the lowest level of environmental protection. Goldbach (2002) describes two extremes in the relations in product chains that involve German textile and clothing companies. One extreme is characterised by co-operation, incentives, trust and win– win solutions, and the other is characterised by confrontation, control, power and win–lose solutions. Compared to Goldbach (2002), the six identiﬁed transnational strategies in product chains involving Danish companies are based more on a cooperative approach than on a confrontation approach. Kogg (2002) identiﬁes two types of environmental supply chain management approaches from two textile and clothing case studies. One is based on direct interaction with each of the suppliers upstream in the product chain; in the other type, the sourcing company approaches the nearest supplier, which is then supposed to approach its own suppliers if necessary. In comparison with Kogg (2002), ﬁve of the six strategies found in the case studies are based on interaction with the nearest supplier, while the sixth, the facility carried out by MADE-BY (case 4), might involve interaction with more tiers of suppliers than only the nearest one. The international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001, has played a limited role in environmental management in the Danish clothing sector. Only case 8 has developed its environmental management practice based on ISO 14001. Other companies with a substantial focus on environmental management (cases 3 and 4) have not implemented ISO 14001 — maybe because more targeted initiatives, like speciﬁc demands to suppliers, are seen to be more valuable.
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8.3. Eco-labelling Strategies as Interpretations of Market Opportunity and Necessity The combined case studies also present a complex picture of the corporate initiation and embedding or terminating of environmental initiatives in relation to eco-labelling. The terminating of eco-labelling in case company 5 shows how difﬁcult it can be to develop the relationship with suppliers into a more dialogue-based relationship. Case studies 3, 4 and 10 show how companies continuously assess such an environmental strategy as eco-labelling with respect to its opportunity or its necessity in relation to the market position of the company. Case company 10 shows how a strategy based on eco-labelling of some products in an assortment and not others might cause confusion in relation to the customers and make a company give up eco-labelling. Case companies 3 and 4 were rather late adopters of eco-labelling in Denmark. They ﬁrst decided to implement this strategy when they felt that the lack of visibility of their earlier environmental initiatives could harm their brands' market position during a period with increased Danish media attention on environmental issues and with international competitors moving into the ﬁeld of market oriented environmental strategies. This shows that not only does public regulation shape environmental management practices but also the regulatory power of media and NGOs, and the strategy of competitors. The companyspeciﬁc interpretation of market opportunities and necessity also implies differences among the companies with respect to how much of the product assortment is eco-labelled or managed through other types of environmental initiative. For several years, one of the fashion brand companies (case 3) has had a code-of-conduct strategy that restricts the use of chemicals in all products, while other companies focus on selected customer segments (children: cases 1, 2 and 4; women aged 30+: case 4). 8.4. Social and Environmental Aspects of Increased Clothing Consumption Integration of the statistical analysis of Danish clothing consumption, the ethnographic study, and the analysis of environmental management practices indicates that the increasing clothing consumption is inﬂuenced by an interaction between business strategies based on low prices and fast fashion and increasing expectations by colleagues and friends of frequent shifts in clothing. This conclusion is in line with Bhardwaj and Fairhurst (2010), who mention the combination of low-price strategy and fast fashion as an important recent driving force in the clothing sector. Increased clothing consumption is the same trend mentioned earlier in UK, Norway and Germany. Røpke (2000) argues that in addition to fast-changing fashions, product diversiﬁcation is also a driver behind increased consumption. The clothing practices identiﬁed in Jensen (2010) are similar to the ﬁndings in a UK study by Woodward (2008), who analysed 27 women's relationships with their clothes. Woodward (2008) also concludes that the amount of clothes in their wardrobes overwhelm the women when selecting clothes to wear. They tend to fall back on ‘safe’ clothes, which they trust will express their intended style. The women therefore have many clothes they do not use. The case studies and the overview of national and international public regulation show that the increasing clothing consumption is not addressed by public regulation or by any of the 10 Danish case companies. Only the environmental impacts per piece of clothing are addressed through cleaner technology and eco-labelling, and only by some companies. How increasing clothing consumption inﬂuences the environmental impacts from clothing production depends on whether and how environmental concerns have been integrated into the design and production of the clothing. The case studies identify four product-related environmental strategies: • Non-public environmental criteria with chemical restrictions for all products (the early strategy of case 3)
• Market-oriented strategy with eco-labelling of all products (cases 7, 8 and 9) • Market-oriented strategy with eco-labelling of a limited part of the product portfolio (cases 1, 2, 3 (as an addition to its early strategy), 4, 5, and 10) • No environmental criteria applied (case 6) The Danish women's clothing practices indicate that the corporate strategies mentioned above that address all products and not just a limited part of the portfolio are more likely to affect even this educated group of consumers, because they do not want their choice of clothes limited by the small assortment of eco-labelled clothes when they are out shopping. Since several companies on the Danish market (e.g. cases 1, 2, 3 and 4) sell only some products, eco-labelled it is likely that eco-labelling only has a limited impact on the clothing market in Denmark. This corresponds to Scherlofsk (2006), who concludes that eco-labelled clothes only have a small share of the clothing market, although exact ﬁgures are not possible to obtain. The non-public chemical restrictions on all products practiced by case 3 may have reduced the environmental impacts more than eco-labelling. Although Danish companies are not addressing the increase in clothing consumption, a review of business strategies in clothing companies in other countries identiﬁes three types of business initiatives that address this tendency: • Reduction in the number of ‘necessary’ clothes through design of multi-purpose clothing • Extension of product lifetime through product design • Increased use of each product through rental schemes for clothes. The Icelandic company Emani designs multi-purpose clothing for women. One piece of clothing can be used in 30 different ways and thereby ideally reduces the number of clothes a woman needs to buy (Jensen, 2010). The German textile company Hess Natur designs a socalled ‘long- life collection’ of classical clothing without too bright colours that the company expects to be unlikely to go out of style and can be combined with other items over a longer time-span than usual clothes. Furthermore, they have established a lending service for wedding outﬁts, which are otherwise very often used only once (Paulitsch, 2001). 9. Conclusion The environmental strategies and impacts in the Danish clothing sector are shaped by the businesses' on-going strategic interpretation of external pressures and opportunities, increasing transnational outsourcing of clothing production, changes in fashion strategies towards ‘fast fashion’, and low-price retail strategies. This implies big differences among the companies with respect to whether and when companies take, embed or terminate environmental initiatives. Among the sector's early movers are both retail companies and companies involved in design and production. The extent of companies' practices in relation to environmental demands to and cooperation with their suppliers in newly industrialised countries differs greatly, and the role of eco-labelling is also very different. Some companies cancelled eco-labelling after some time, because its management as part of their market and sourcing strategy was too demanding. On the other hand, some fashion companies have recently launched eco-labelling strategies due to increased public focus in Denmark on the environmental impacts of clothing production. This has made the fashion companies see it as necessary to show their environmental commitment publicly. The clothing practices of the group of young women in the study are inﬂuenced by fast changing fashion and low-price strategies in interaction with the expectations of colleagues and friends about frequent clothing changes. The women's practices are characterised by frequent clothing purchases; in some cases, substantial amounts of unused clothes in their wardrobes, and in other cases, quick disposal
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of unused clothes; frequent changes of clothes during the week; and limited considerations about their clothing practices' environmental impacts. The dominating eco-labelling strategy, which applies to only part of companies' product assortment, has had almost no impact on these women's practices, since they are not willing to accept limitations to their clothing options due to a limited supply of eco-labelled products. If these women are seen as one of the consumer groups most likely to buy eco-labelled clothes, the total impact from eco-labelling on Danish consumer choices and on the environmental impacts from production and consumption of clothing has been limited. In order to make more dynamic assessments of how environmental impacts from increasing clothing consumption have changed, both in relative and absolute terms, more detailed studies are necessary of how different social groups' clothing consumption is distributed among clothes with no environmental concerns, clothes with eco-labelling, and clothes affected by non-public chemical restrictions to suppliers. The article shows, within the clothing area, a way of linking research of production dynamics and consumption dynamics, which is also feasible for other consumption areas. The article shows that long-term case studies, combined in a meta-analysis involving more than just proactive companies, are important in order to ﬁnd out whether environmental management initiatives are embedded and understand the interpretations behind embedding or terminating initiatives. Hansen's (1999) model is useful in a network-based approach to analyses of transnational environmental management practices, combined with models for supply chain relations (e.g. Cox, 2004). This combination enables analyses where national and international regulation, market dynamics, product chain structures, and individual business strategies are seen to interact in the shaping of environmental management practices. In combination with analyses of changes in public regulation and public discourses, it is possible to identify the environmental concerns that are addressed, as well concerns that are not addressed. The combination of statistical analyses of a consumption area and ethnographic studies of user practices based on a practice theory approach, such as that used by Røpke (2009), enables analyses of how interactions between business strategies and social dynamics, such as workplace dress codes, shape everyday life practices.
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