HOME > Sustainability > Respect the Environment > Environmental Management

Environmental Management

Last Updated: 2020.01.31
to Japanese page

Fast Retailing continues to improve environmental management systems and promote environmental management throughout the supply chain.

Fast Retailing Environmental Policies

Fast Retailing works to eliminate all waste in in order to maximize the effective use of resources across all business processes. As we reduce our environmental impact, we also adopt innovative technologies in an effort to build more sustainable business models.

【Five Core Environmental Initiatives】

・Address climate change
・Improve energy efficiency
・Manage water resources
・Manage waste, maximize resource efficiency
・Manage chemical substances

Message from External Director

We are committed to leading our industry in addressing environmental challenges facing business.

Takashi Nawa
External Director

Companies around the world are increasingly judged according to their ESG (environment, social, and governance) performance. I believe there are four levels to how companies can address ESG.
The first level is the company that does not engage in any environment and social governance. Second is the company that engages with ESG as long as it is worth the cost. Third is the company that considers ESG to be an obligation as a global citizen. Fourth, and highest, is the company actually leads the world in ESG. I believe that Fast Retailing is a fourth level company. However, when we look at our first and second tier suppliers, we can see various challenges and problems that have gone unnoticed.

Takashi Nawa, External Director

As a member of Fast Retailing's Sustainability Committee, I provide advice about steering Fast Retailing in the correct direction. The Sustainability Committee meets on a quarterly basis and conducts management reviews of Fast Retailing's engagement with a wide array of issues facing society. These include social and environmental issues such as climate change and water use. Fast Retailing's vision is to become the world's No.1 digital consumer retail company. The time has come to exercise leadership in addressing the environmental issues faced by our partner factories. For instance, fabric mills generate enormous quantities of wastewater in the process of dyeing fabric. We will never become the world leader in environment stewardship if we say that it's too costly to deal with this issue. Then there are the shopping bags used in our stores. More than ever, it is important that the packaging we use for our products be made of more sustainable materials. We are already planning for these issues internally. Prototype products are under development, and we expect to see even more progress in the future in these and other areas. I think UNIQLO will serve as an inspiration to the whole industry in developing environmentally conscious products that reduce the use of water. This includes mass-production items such as jeans.

Fast Retailing has high ethical standards. The company is dedicated to a mission of making great clothing and bringing joy to customers. We approach challenges head on. As an external director, and as a member of the Sustainability Committee, I will continue to draw on my own knowledge to help Fast Retailing move in a positive direction.


Implementation Framework

The Sustainability Committee refers to the company's environmental policies to identify the most important initiatives to address. Each entity within the Fast Retailing Group pursues its own environmental initiatives. Fast Retailing pursues five core environmental initiatives: (1) Address climate change; (2) Improve energy efficiency; (3) Manage water; (4) Manage waste and maximize resource efficiency; and (5) Manage chemical substances. The Sustainability Committee sets targets for these areas and implements specific policies to support them. Attended by internal directors, external directors, full-time auditors, senior operating officers, and external professionals, the Sustainability Committee seeks and considers a wide variety of actions. The specific environmental activities of the committee are conducted by the companies in the Fast Retailing Group, as well as by the departments responsible for product development, production, distribution, sales, and marketing.

We assign sustainability department personnel to the production offices in China and Southeast Asia, countries where the majority of our partner factories operate. These employees are responsible for advancing efforts to improve environmental management at our partner factories.

Promotion of environmental initiatives in collaboration with external organizations

Fast Retailing works with various external organizations to address environmental issues confronting the entire apparel industry. The following table lists the major organizations with which Fast Retailing collaborates.

NameDate JoinedMissionMain Activities

Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)

September 2014

A group of major companies in the apparel, footwear, and textile industries working together to address global environment and social issues. The goal of the coalition is to reduce the environmental impact in the apparel, footwear, and textile industry supply chains. At the same time, this group serves as a platform to contribute to the growth of people and communities involved in production activities.

Develop and disseminate standard industry tools (HIGG index) to measure the environmental and social impact of supply chain activities.

Textile Exchange

August 2017

Textile Exchange is a global non-profit which accelerates sustainable practices in the textile value chain by focusing on minimizing the harmful impacts of the global textile industry and maximizing its positive effects. It envisions a global textile industry that protects and restores the environment and enhances lives.

Create leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials sector by providing learning opportunities, tools, insights, standards, data, measurement and benchmarking, and by building a community that can collectively accomplish what no individual or company can do alone.

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

January 2018

The mission of BCI is to improve the cotton industry, ensuring a better future for worldwide producers of cotton, for the environment where the cotton is grown, and for the cotton industry as a whole.

To achieve this, BCI links people and organizations across sectors, from farms to retail stores, to achieve measurable and ongoing improvements in agricultural communities, and the economies of cotton-growing regions.

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)

March 2019
as Friend of ZDHC

The Group's mission is to enable brands, retailers and their supply chains in the textile, apparel, leather and footwear industries to implement chemical management best practices and advance towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by collaborative engagement, standard setting, implementation and innovation.

The Group focuses on implementing the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme, including: ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL); ZDHC Waste Water Guidelines; ZDHC Gateway; ZDHC Academy; and ZDHC Implementation HUB.

The Microfibre Consortium (TMC)

September 2019
as Associate Member

TMC operates as a non-profit, membership based, cross-industry group. TMC facilitates the development of practical solutions for the textile industry to minimize microfibre release to the environment from textile manufacturing and product life cycle.

With a vision that states 'A future with managed microfibre loss from textiles, to the environment,' the work of TMC looks to connect and translate deep academic research, with the reality of commercial supply chain production to offer solutions to its brand, retail and supplier members and ultimately for the greater good of our ecosystems.

CLOMA (Clean Ocean Material Alliance)

October 2019
as General member

CLOMA aims to solve the issues of marine plastic litter by promoting the development and introduction of revolutionary alternatives to plastics that will lead to a sustainable use of plastic products. To achieve this, the alliance accelerates innovation through public-private partnerships.

The alliance strives to promote: information-sharing between providers of materials and user companies through technological and business matching and sharing previous cases; obtaining the latest technical trends through technical exchange and seminars; international collaboration with international organizations, overseas research institutes and disseminating information to developing countries; and promotion of collaboration between companies related to effective utilization of plastic products.

Respecting the environment at stores

UNIQLO has been working towards reducing environmental loads through its store designs and operations. In October 2019, UNIQLO Kawagoe Store in Saitama Prefecture, Japan has received Gold Level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in the Building Operations & Maintenance (O+M) category. Since its first roadside store opening in 1985, UNIQLO has standardized the specifications for roadside stores, utilizing high-quality materials, heat insulation, and simple store designs to create durable, energy-efficient retail spaces. The LEED O+M Gold certification was awarded in recognition of this store design and its operating procedures. The store received particularly high marks for its energy-saving measures, such as the adoption of a high-efficiency air-conditioning system, use of LED lighting, and efficient operations, and its resource conservation measures including waste separation and the installation of water-saving toilets, as well as the maintenance of air quality through appropriate air conditioning and circulation. UNIQLO seeks to acquire LEED O+M certification at other main roadside stores in Japan with the same Kawagoe store standards, and plans to apply the knowledge gained through these efforts to further lower the environmental load of its stores. In October 2019, UNIQLO became a recipient of the Industry Pioneer award from the U.S. Green Building Council NGO for its leading role in reducing environmental impacts with this initiative.

Environmental management with partner factories

Along with workplace monitoring of our partner sewing factories and fabric mills, Fast Retailing conducts environmental audits based on our Code of Conduct for Production Partners. We have third-party auditors review water treatment and other environment measures at our partner factories. Fast Retailing personnel follow up with direct visits to factories that need to make improvements, working with that factory to ensure that the required improvements are made. We also conduct due diligence for sewing factories prior to entering into a business relationship.

【Main Elements of Environmental Monitoring】

・Is the factory in compliance with local laws and regulations related to the environment?
・Do the factory's wastewater treatment facilities have the proper permits and are they regularly inspected by local authorities; have the requisite certificates been obtained?
・Is wastewater treatment performed correctly?
・Are procedures in place for handling chemical substances and waste products?
・Have factory personnel been trained in handling and treating waste products?
・Does the factory have authorized contractors for the treatment of hazardous waste?

【Audit Results】

The details of the audit results can be found below.

Related Links

Reduce water and energy usage under the UNIQLO Responsible Mill Program

Fabric mills use a significant amount of water and energy in the manufacturing process. To alleviate the environmental impacts, UNIQLO launched the UNIQLO Responsible Mill Program, which calls for a reduction in water and energy usage by 15 and 10 percent, respectively, of 2016 levels by the end 2020 - the effort spanning three years from 2018 to 2020.

UNIQLO Responsible Mill Program

  • Evaluating the water and energy usage of the factories and formulating plans to reduce usage by 2020
  • When factories do not appear likely to achieve reduction targets completely, we work with outside experts to investigate areas that may yield additional reductions, including boiler upgrades, inverters, and other improvements to facilities and equipment operations.
  • Revising or creating new energy saving plans
  • Regular progress checks

• Progress
Participating factories in the UNIQLO Responsible Mill Program have formulated and implemented their water and energy saving project plans. We conducted on-site inspections with external experts on the reduction potential in some participating factories which were considered having large water and energy saving potential, and took measures to reduce water and energy usage in these factories. As a result, all participating factories' implemented projects by the end of 2017 achieved 9.9% water saving against the 15% reduction target, and 2.2% energy saving against the 10% reduction target by the end of 2018.

• Case Study of UNIQLO Fabric Mill projects
In March 2017, UNIQLO invited external experts to visit one of the core fabric mills in Jiangsu Province, China, to discover saving opportunities in water and energy for the factory. Suggestions have been provided to the factory in areas of lightening system, thermal system, compressed air system, water system and the material processing. Based on these suggestions, this factory has implemented multiple projects including condensate recovery, using LED lights, switching to high efficiency motors during 2017, which overall generated annual savings of 93,000 ton water and 26,044 GJ energy in 2018. Such amount of water and energy saving accounts for 3.5 % and 4.5 % of all the savings achieved in China in 2018. All the projects' return of investment period are within 1 year, contributing to the economic impact as well as reducing the environmental impact of participating factory.

Adopting the Higg index at fabric mills

In 2014, Fast Retailing joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a non-profit organization that promotes efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the apparel industry. In 2015, UNIQLO began using the Higg Index at fabric mills. This index was developed by SAC as a standard for environmental assessments. We monitor and evaluate the environmental impact of fabric mills using the Higg Index, working with partner factories to make improvements.

【Seven Environmental Factors in the Higg Index 】

・Environmental management system (environmental targets, etc.)
・Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions
・Water use
・Atmospheric emissions
・Management of chemical substances

Training at core fabric mills

We provide training on the Higg Index at our core fabric mills to increase environmental knowledge and awareness. This training focuses mainly on raising awareness of issues surrounding water and energy use, as well as the management of chemical substances. Providing this training on an on-going basis, we are advancing our goal of appropriate environmental management at our partner fabric mills.

Fabric mill personnel receiving training on the Higg Index.

Fabric mill personnel receiving training on the Higg Index

Top of page