Melbourne-based retailer Country Road has announced today it will invest $1.5 million in grant funding towards projects driving climate solutions in the Australian fashion retail industry over the next three years.
Launched today, the fund aims to help accelerate and incubate projects, programs, initiatives or products that directly and indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This could include projects that improve energy efficiency in the production of textiles, provide consumers with accurate data on the emissions intensity of different fashion items, or encourage more sustainable fashion choices. In the first year, the annual grants program will allocate up to $500,000.
Country Road managing director Elle Roseby said the fashion industry had a key role to play in addressing climate change and shaping a positive future.
“Country Road is on its own journey to be a world-leading responsible lifestyle retailer,” Roseby said.
“We have a science-based climate target, with a goal to reach net zero by 2040, and by 2030 we aim to have all our Australian and New Zealand stores, as well as our head office and distribution centre, supporting renewable energy.
“The Climate Fund was created as part of our responsible business journey which strives to drive positive change across climate, nature, and community within its own operations, and also through building positive outcomes in our value chain and beyond.”
According to data from the Australian Fashion Council, Australia is the second highest consumer of textiles in the world per person. On average, each Australian disposes 93 per cent of the textiles they buy with only 7 per cent of this waste recycled. Approximately 6,000kg of Australian clothing and textiles are dumped in landfill every 10 minutes.
Further research from US-based management consultancy McKinsey & Co shows that the global fashion industry produced around 2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, equalling 4 per cent of the global total.
If no further action is taken over the next decade beyond measures already in place, the industry’s GHG emissions will likely rise to around 2.7 billion tonnes a year by 2030, reflecting an annual volume growth rate of 2.7 per cent.
To tackle this issue, the fund is targeting projects which align with one or more of the following sub-themes:
- Biodiversity conservation to protect and restore natural habitat
- The circular economy to reimage the textile lifecycle
- Unique and disruptive technologies shifting the face of fashion
- Projects or partnerships led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
Cox Inall Ridgeway general manager and climate fund project advisor Yatu Widders-Hunt, who is a proud descendant of the Dunghutti and Anaiwan Peoples from north-western New South Wales, is pleased with the Climate Fund's focus on First Nations-led innovations.
“I am so proud to see this industry-leading initiative, which truly reflects the values of Country Road,” Widders-Hunt said.
“What I particularly love is the recognition and respect for the ongoing custodianship of Country from First Nations peoples across Australia.
“Initiatives like this genuinely support community leadership, foster partnerships and invite innovation and creative thinking.”
Pollination director and fund advisor Dr. Helen Crowley said the committee believed this fund would help propel the Australian fashion industry further into its sustainability journey.
“What makes the Climate Fund so exciting is the recognition of the Australian fashion sector's impact on climate change,” Crowley said.
“It requires pursuing and supporting multiple approaches simultaneously. This is exactly what Country Road is doing with its new fund that focuses on protecting and restoring biodiversity, supporting Indigenous Peoples and innovating around business models and products."
The Climate Fund is part of Country Road’s existing partnerships with Landcare Australia to restore Australian cotton farmlands, Oritain to scientifically verify fibre origin, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation to support emerging First Nations artists and creatives, and Red Cross to help divert waste from landfill while raising funds for local communities.
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