‘It’s time to do more:’ Zalando CEO on sustainability

Zalando have embarked upon a new sustainability strategy called “do.MORE” aimed at placing the people and the planet at the centre of their operations to address climate change anxiety, shaking up the corporate models and consumer mindsets.

It’s time to do more,” is the new business vision, Rubin Ritter, Zalando CEO set to use as a barometer of the marketplace’s success towards becoming a ‘green’ fashion company.”In the next five years, we aim to change, transform and reinvent the way we consume and design products. At some point, we would be able to say that we’re a sustainable fashion patrol which positively impacts the people and the planet. .”

Speaking today at Zalando Press Day in Berlin, Rubin says the marketplace aims to “proactively shape the [eco-friendly] future” through a six-pronged strategy.
First, collaboration with the customer to support the marketplace’s target towards carbon-neutral operations. Second, designing the packaging to minimise waste and keep materials in use to reduce the single-plastic by 2023. Third, increasing the marketplace’s ethical standards and only working with partners, a term Zalando use to describe their marketplace merchants, who advocate for sustainable retailing. Fourth, increasing the generation of sustainable products by 20% by 2023. Fifth, applying the principles of circularity to extend the life of at least 50 million fashion products. Zalando aims to achieve this by collecting products from customers and reselling them through Zalando Wardrobe. Currently, only 1% of global fashion goods are being recycled. Sixth, supporting 10,000 of their global workforce by providing learning opportunities that match their future work requirements.

The fashion industry is facing sustainability challenges and we know we have been part of the problem. Going forward, our aspiration is to be part of the solution. We see a clear link between acting sustainably and continued commercial success. Only those who incorporate sustainability into their business strategy will stay relevant for their customers and we believe that it will be a competitive advantage in the future.

The ambitious manoeuvre will see Zalando committing to carbon-neutral last-mile experiences. That is, today sees the marketplace’s parcel transportation, packaging and warehousing joining their efforts to offset the environmental footprint – setting the standard for the fashion industry to overhaul the traditional functioning of one of the world’s biggest pollutants.

This year saw Zalando switching to more than 90% of renewable energy globally in an effort to meet their own target set at the Paris climate agreement. Zalando boxes are currently made from 100% recycled materials, shipping bags from 80% recycled plastics and beauty bags switched to 100% recycled paper.

If we don’t approach the [sustainability] challenge, the future risk is losing a customer to a sustainable business. It’s an opportunity in itself. There might be a brand that’s commercially successful but they decide not to be sustainable. In the long term, such businesses will cease to exist.

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