In the 21st century, businesses are being asked to do more to re-solve social and environmental problems. The fashion industry is understood to be the second biggest contributor to pollution after the oil industry, so there is obviously much room for improvement. Being part of this industry we recognise that Arrow has a role to play to help reduce this and that we have a responsibility to design and arrange our processes in a way that reduces our carbon footprint and makes for a safer and cleaner environment for all.
OUR COMMITMENT TO BEING MORE SUSTAINABLE ECONOMICALLY, AND MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE.
In April 2014, the textile industry — and the whole world — woke up to an unprecedented disaster at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. 1,133 people perished and another 2,500 were injured when a building which housed a number of clothing manufacturers collapsed.. Coverage of this disaster highlighted lots of unsafe and unsavoury work practices in the garment industry and raised awareness of the need to assess and monitor suppliers to ensure ethical behaviour throughout the whole supply chain process.
At Arrow Uniforms, due to our strict criteria and evaluation assessment of suppliers, we were already confident they met such standards. Our evaluations ensured our supply chain was ethically sound and that the factories we used were responsible and committed to the same ethos that we were. This is so that we could look our customers in the eye and say we were in full control of every aspect of our operation. We wanted to be able to show that we are taking responsibility to care for both the environment and the workers who supply us by looking to collaborate with our suppliers to drive ethical and sustainable behaviour.
We also looked at what we did here in NZ and moved to reduce waste and our impact on the environment where-ever possible. We thankfully work with customers who are also increasingly aware and concerned about their impact on the environment, so are sharing ideas and processes to lessen our impact. We are also educating our staff and partnering with business groups and organisations that are taking leading roles in addressing these environmental and ethical challenges.
We visit the factories we use and undertake a rigorous ethical and environmental inspection before adding them to our preferred supplier list. Despite using internationally accredited inspection agencies there is nothing like inspecting the factories yourself to ensure that what we were being told was how it was. Things didn’t bode well at one factory we visited when the security guard at the gate was asleep and inside was the closest to sweatshop conditions I have ever seen — so we made the decision not to use them.
Simultaneously, we have noticed that there is a direct correlation between staff welfare and factories who have computerised patterns and computerised cutting. We have observed that the factories that were progressive and had made an investment in new technology also invested and looked after their staff. So we have made another decision not to use factories that didn’t have a commitment to harness technology as we did.
This has also led to economic benefits as computerised patterns provide up to 15% better yields than manual laying up of patterns. Computerised cutting is also 8-10% more efficient than manual cutting and the whole process combined is up to 9 times faster than the manual version and much more efficient as well. As textile waste on the cutting table is estimated to be around 15% of the global 60 Billion cubic metres of textile waste generated, this is one contribution we can make to reduce this.
We will continue to strive for sustainable improvements and ensure in our own business as well as that of our suppliers that we are applying the best environmental and ethical business practices and are constantly working on improvements.
Download our full Corporate Sustainability Policy Here