The company selected for this assignment is Zara and the reason for selecting this company is that normally the business activities of fashion companies influence the natural environment in different ways. Zara strives through ongoing improvements to reduce the negative effects on the atmosphere and the natural resources of the earth while defending the safety and health of the public and employees. The company seeks out suppliers who take affirmative action to reduce waste and the impact of their processes of manufacturing on the surrounding environment. The work was conducted after shortlisting the fashion companies based on their environmental policy. As Zara’s environmental policy is very comprehensive and unique and it covers all the major portions of the environment, as a result, this company is selected for the analysis. The secondary methodology is used to collect the data and the material, which was used for data collection including the CSR policy of the company, the company’s annual report, and also different peer-reviewed articles regarding the environmental policy of Zara. All the material was selected through relevant keywords and phrases like “environmental management”, “environmental management of Zara”, and “environmental policy of Zara”. However, while collecting data, different challenges and constraints are identified that include access to stakeholders and unreliable data because some of the studies have been carried out a while ago, as a result, it is hard to check the reliability of the dataset.
Zara is an apparel retailer of Spain based in Arteixo, Spain. Zara specializes in fast- fashion and its goods comprise accessories, clothing, perfumes, swimwear, shoes and beauty. It is regarded as the biggest firm in the Inditex group with Bershka and it is the biggest retail firm of apparel in the world. In 2020, Zara was managing more than 20 clothing collections in a year. The company was established in 1975 by Amancio Ortega and Zara is a clothing store, which is a portion of Inditex group that is the largest apparel retail company in the world (Zara, 2022).
Moreover, the stores of Zara have women’s and men’s clothing and also the clothing of children that include Zara Kids. Zara Home designs are established in the stores of Europe. Moreover, several stores of customers of Zara are aged from 18 to 35 years. After the products are developed, they take around 10 to 15 days to get to the stores. Moreover, the clothing is treated with the help of distribution centers in Spain (Zara, 2022). Additionally, the new products of Zara are sorted, inspected, tagged, and encumbered into the trucks. In the majority of the cases, the clothing is transported in 48 hours. Moreover, Zara generates more than 450 million products every year. Moreover, in May 2021, Zara introduced its initial beauty line, known as ZARA Beauty (Zara, 2022).
The role of managing director of Zara Marta Ortega is quite prominent and she is highly focused on making different clothes that are based on the sustainable and responsible way and that restricts the effect on the environment and that challenges to frequently work harder to enhance how the company manufactures. It is something that the company feels passionate about and in a working capacity. Zara always looks for conducts in which the company can do better by working on different novel technologies, novel means to work on the materials that are recycled, and that help in creating new fabrics that the company’s designers and others in the sector can work collaboratively in the prospect. It is regarded as the correct thing to do, both commercially and morally and it is an approach to which people are committed (Nast, 2019).
Environmental Policy of Zara
Based on the business model of Zara, the company desires to assist the sustainable developments of the environment and society in which it collaborates. The environmental promise is a portion of the Inditex group’s CSR policy. Additionally, some of the actions and objectives conducted within the outline of the promise of the environment are associated directly with the customers and stores (Ho, 2014). Zara tries to save energy and also the management gives a lot of attention to making the stores of Zara eco-friendly (Fibre2fashion, 2022).
Moreover, Zara also has the policy to reduce the waste of production and promotes recycling and this process of recycling of security tags and hangers are gathered in the stores and are processes to be changed into other items of plastic and in this regard, one of the key examples is waste management. Millions of security tags and hangers are treated every year furthermore and both the plastic and cardboard used in the manufacturing processes are recycled (Fibre2fashion, 2022).
Another component of the environmental policy of Zara is its in-house campaigns of communication and particular multimedia training plans to increase the awareness of employees to meet the need of sustainable practices like trimming consumption energy and modifying habits of behavior and maintaining sustainable transport (Fibre2fashion, 2022).
Additionally, there is an environmental policy developed for Zara in the context of customer service, which includes the use of biodegradable and paper-based plastic bags, and in this regard, 90% of bags given to customers are developed through paper. All types of plastic bags, which are used are biodegradable and are decomposed with the help of a natural biological procedure that avoids the environmental pollution created by conventional plastic. Another thing is about generating recycled information within customer service and it shows the commitment to utilize the papers and other recyclable materials, which is protracted to the materials utilized for the information of customers (Inditex, 2022).
Another thing is about the environmental policies with the item in which the use of ecological products like organic cotton is very fundamental. Moreover, Zara promotes ecological agriculture and utilizes cotton in the manufacturing process of chosen clothing items like 100% cotton, which is entirely free from pesticides, bleaches, and chemical agents. Moreover, with a differentiated label, these items can be found easily in the stores of Zara (Inditex, 2022).
The environmental aspects are evaluated through the website of the company and also with the help of feedback from customers. In this regard, three main environmental aspects are covered, which are very prominent in the context of Zara (Sitaro, 2020).
The first environmental aspect of Zara is greenwashing. These environmental practices create doubt on the eco-friendliness of Zara, which is sustainable due to the fabrics it utilizes. It is important to view that Zara is making efforts but tackling only a single element of the multifaceted problems (Segran, 2019). Zara tries to use the materials like leather, wool, and down in its continuous gathering, which shows that it also makes progress to make with animal welfare. However, the greenwashing dimension includes other problems that are very prevalent based on which the consumers require to assess that one line of “eco-friendly” is not an appropriate solution. Additionally, some activities can be done by Zara and that must perform a follow-up on its different commitments and pledges (Attiremedia, 2022).
The second environmental aspect of Zara is based on the recycling of items and it is the commitment of the company to improve and develop recycling technology. By 2020, Zara has financed USD 3.5 million in this domain as is mentioned in the commitments of the Global Fashion Agenda. Moreover, Zara also cooperated with Lenzing, which was the Austrian producer of sustainable textile fiber TENCEL™ Lyocell, for making premium textile raw materials from the waste of textile. Zara also reuses and recycles items on its own to achieve zero waste (Wilson, 2015). Moreover, the reuse and recycling activity includes different areas. For example, it accounts for 1,074 million tags in the previous year and Zara applied its “Single Hanger” development in stores throughout the world and that includes one single hanger to promote the garments from the suppliers of textile to the stores the following display in-store. Additionally, the boxes of cardboard transported to the stores of Zara also has a long life (Allam et al. 2020).
Another environmental aspect, which is developed is the establishment of eco-friendly stores. 100% of Zara’s stores throughout the world are eco-efficient since 2020 and 66% of its stores are associated with the central energy efficiency control system. Additionally, the flagship eco-stores are the basis of the best practice in the entire business and the most effective and visible indicators to the customers of Zara’s commitment to the sustainability of the environment. Additionally, 39 flagship stores are covered through full LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) which is a standard in the standards of environment for green buildings (Inditex, 2022).
Objectives, Targets, and Programs
The O&T of Zara based on the environmental policy and environmental aspects are developed below:
- The first O&T is to increase the standards of accountability regarding greenwashing by 2023.
- The second O&T is to reduce zero waste by 20% further by 2023.
- The third O&T is to include at least three technologies in the eco-friendly stores of Zara.
After developing O&T, different programs can be developed by Zara to achieve these O&Ts within the stipulated time. The first program is related to the first O&T in that to cater to the issues of sustainability in the current years as shown by the commitments and targets, the collaborations with different companies are important along with the enhanced reporting. However, it is important to assess whether these kinds of programs result in a correct sustainable change or just a tactic of greenwashing. The second program is about the second O&T and it is used to prioritize the utilization of reused and recycled materials, domestically sourced materials, and materials that are of low energy. For instance, all the wood used in the eco-stores is certified to arise from responsibly and sustainably managed forests. Additionally, the store’s location is important and the way a store interacts with the surroundings is examined by the architecture and teams of environmental management (Seo and Suh, 2019).
The third program is to implement the technology advancement in the stores so that the eco-friendliness in the stores can be maintained. The technologies that can be used are centralized control and monitoring of electricity use, which permits the reduction and optimization of the consumption of energy.
Implementation and Operation
Resources, Roles, Responsibility, and Authority
It is the responsibility and role of the managing director to ensure that there is an environmental friendliness culture developed and an environmental policy is developed so that every employee can follow that particular policy. The other authorized person is the departmental head who ensures that the policy developed is followed and implemented by all the managers of respective departments like operations, manufacturing, customer handling, etc. The other authority is managers of respective department who assess each of the activity of employees regarding environmental friendliness and give a report to his head. Employees are the final authority who follows policies and ensure that all activities are related to environmental friendliness (Gheorghe and Matefi, 2021).
Competence, Training, and Awareness
There are different types of training given to the employees for environmental management. This training includes starting a recycling program and it is essential to place recycle bins in lunchrooms and around printers and copiers. The training can also be given to the change to energy-efficient light bulbs and install different lights of motion-activated that turned off automatically when there is space, which is not in use. Moreover, other training can also be given regarding going paperless and it is essential to use cloud-based collaboration and switch to cloud-based options of collaboration like Google Drive. The training regarding energy efficiency can be given to the managers and departmental heads and training regarding paperless can be given to frontline employees, and also training regarding recycling programs can be given to departmental heads and policymakers.
Communication can be developed in Zara regarding environmental management to motivate and encourage staff members. Communication is important to appreciate the impacts of practices of working. The communication can be conducted with employees so that they can think that what role they can play (Papadopoulou et al. 2021).
Additionally, communication can also be carried out with the suppliers and contractors. If they will be communicated, it will be important for them to develop those products, which are environmentally friendly. The internal audience will be employees and the external audience will be contractors and suppliers and also logistics providers (Joy et al. 2012).
Monitoring and measurement
The tool that is essential to measure the environmental management system of Zara is the environmental audit, which shows what the company is doing and what the company should do. Both ISO 14001 and EMAS need the firms to conduct an environmental audit. This requires Zara to ensure that its EMS complies with the requirements of these documents. A business may have a waste management policy or may have committed to following the waste management rules established by its industry sector. In this instance, Zara may wish to undertake an audit to ensure that its waste management activities adhere to the requirements of its waste management policy or sector-specific recommendations. Alternatively, Zara may have procedures in place for performing critical operations. In this scenario, the company may choose to perform an audit to ensure that these procedures are being followed by the appropriate staff members (EPA, 2015).
Nonconformity, Corrective Action, and Preventive Action
The first action that Zara can work on further is to use energy efficiently and that is about generating natural gas and electricity and that produces greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the installation of systems of energy-efficient buildings and tools can save energy and minimize the environmental footprint (Truong, 2016).
Another action is related to the installation of renewables and for this renewable and clean systems of energy like wind and solar can minimize the environmental impact and that decline the energy bill. Moreover, several state, federal, and local incentives are accessible to install renewable energy more reasonable.
Moreover, Zara can also identify new sourcing because the company needs sources to function, whether it is raw materials or office supplies for manufacturing. Near sourcing is about using the vendors to close with the business and it is a way to minimize environmental impact.
Employee ownership of the EMS is significantly increased by meaningful employee participation in the EMS development process. Employees are an excellent source of information about environmental, health, and safety, and also the effectiveness of present systems and procedures. These employees can assist the project team with the development of procedures. When developing the EMS for Zara it is important to ensure that the company monitors the progress against the project’s objectives and plans regularly and communicate this progress to the rest of the business. The management should ensure that it articulates the milestones reached and what will occur next. Moreover, the maintenance of communication and engagement with upper management, particularly if extra resources are required can be reviewed by management (Paconferenceforwomen, 2014).
From the above analysis, it is identified that Zara is working well in terms of environmental management and the company is making huge efforts in terms of environmental measures. However, in this assignment, some of the objectives, tools, and techniques are developed for Zara so that the company can improve its processes to a greater extent so that more environmental sustainability can be ensured by the company.
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Figure 1: Organizational Chart Source: Author’s illustration