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Corporate Responsibility

Our Products

We care about so much more than just commercial criteria…

Our sourcing strategy also focuses on three key areas: ethical trading, sustainable sourcing and animal welfare.

541 Factories manufacturing our products. 189 Suppliers supplying our products. 27 Number of countries our products are sourced from. 430 Factory visits by our regional ethical trade teams.

This year has been a hotbed of engagement and innovation across our teams – individuals wanting to do the right thing and teams making meaningful commitments. Our customers remain at the heart of everything we do, fuelling us to continuously improve our buying habits so that our customers don't have to change theirs.

Simon Platts
Sourcing Director, ASOS

76 Supplier companies attended our ethical trade and sustainable sourcing workshops around the world. 44% More sustainable cotton contained in our 2016 autumn/winter collections, as defined by the Better Cotton Initiative. 15% Target to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint of our clothing by 2020. 2010 Year that ASOS established its Animal Welfare programme.

Our approach

Discover more about our approach to sourcing, creating and developing our product range.

Ethical trade

Find out more about our commitments to ethical trade and sustainable sourcing, discover where we in the world we’re currently sourcing from and learn about how we work with suppliers and create sustainable partnerships.

Sustainable sourcing

Find out more about our sustainable approach to sourcing and the partnerships and programmes we have in place.

Animal welfare

Find out more about our animal welfare initiatives.

Our performance

Find out more about our performance and our commitments here.

Definitions

Ethical Trade Definitions

  • Contract worker: Someone working at a manufacturing site who is employed or managed by a third party (labour provider).
  • Ethical standards: A set of core ASOS documents that outline the standards we expect our suppliers to meet and our own responsibilities.
  • Ethical trade: Recognised steps a company takes to identify problems and improve conditions for its supply chain workers.
  • Factory: A site where ASOS’ products are manufactured.
  • Living wage: The minimum income needed by a worker to meet the basic needs of themselves and their dependents.
  • These needs include: Accommodation, food, water, clothing, sanitation, education and healthcare with some discretionary savings possible.
  • Migrant worker: A person who migrates from one territory or country to another in order to seek employment.
  • Non-compliance: A failure to meet the standards set out in ASOS’ Supplier Ethical Code.
  • Supplier: An organisation that manufactures or procures products or services for ASOS.
  • Supplier ethical code: A document defining the minimum ethical standards ASOS requires from its suppliers and factories.

Sustainable Sourcing Definitions

  • Better Cotton Initiative Cotton: BCI’s intention is to globally raise the sustainability standard of cotton production while making it available in large volumes to mainstream retailers. Cotton is grown using less water and fewer chemicals, while improving the lives of farmers.
  • Cellulosic: A manufactured fibre made of regenerated cellulose often originating from woody plants.
  • Closed loop: Closed-loop or circular economy is the practice of recycling a garment to create a brand new one that retains or enhances its quality and value.
  • Community: Made by brands and manufacturers who support their local communities or by companies that give a percentage of profits to charity or back into underprivileged local communities.
  • Cotton Made in Africa cotton: CmiA benefits the lives of small holder farmers across Africa. The farmers are supported through a training programme to increase yields from their land.
  • Environmental footprint: At ASOS we measure our environmental footprint using three metrics: carbon, water and waste.
  • Handmade/handwoven: Made by hand or made with materials and/or techniques that utilise hand-driven machinery, providing employment and income for millions of households around the world.
  • Hazardous chemicals: Chemicals that have the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by themselves or through interaction with other factors. Hazardous chemicals can have an adverse impact on human health and the environment. After immediate or long-term exposure, such as may be found in manufacturing environments, they can be carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic, can disturb the endocrine system, can be skin sensitisers and toxic.
  • Lower-impact materials and processes: Using fibres or innovative materials that have lower environmental impacts e.g. Lenzing Tencel, Modal and Lyocell. Using processes that have a lower environmental impact, i.e. ozone washing or laser technology in place of chemical processes.
  • Made by artisans/craftspeople: Made by skilled craft workers who create high-quality products by hand or by traditional methods and applied arts supporting their local culture.
  • Made under fair-trade principles: Air trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect. Workers are paid a fair price and work in decent conditions, as defined by The World Fair Trade organisation.
  • Natural ingredients: A product labeled 'natural' has not been chemically altered from its original state, and nothing has been removed or added.
  • Organic ingredients: Made from ingredients grown without synthetic chemicals (pesticides, fertilisers, plant growth regulators) and certified GM free (contains no genetically modified material).
  • Parabens-free: Parabens are a class of preservatives found in many cosmetic products. Although some parabens are found in nature, most parabens are synthetically derived to prolong shelf life of products. Parabens-free would indicate that the preservatives used are not chemical.
  • Recycled: To convert waste into reusable material.
  • Regulatory compliance: The minimum requirement that must be met by ASOS to adhere to current legislation.
  • Small-scale manufacturing in Africa: Manufactured in Africa, helping local growth and empowerment, and encouraging artisans and community groups as well as larger producers across the continent.
  • Sustainable cotton: Organic cotton made from fibres grown without environmentally hazardous synthetic chemicals (pesticides, fertilisers, plant-growth regulators). Fairtrade certification enables small-scale cotton farmers in developing countries to improve their farm businesses and the lives of their communities.
  • Traceability: The intention to have an unbroken record of product manufacture and processing, starting from raw material source to product level.
  • Vintage: Pre-owned clothing, bags, accessories shoes or jewellery from a previous era.

Ethical trade FAQs

What is ethical trade?

For ASOS, ethical trade means taking a series of recognised steps to identify problems and improve conditions for workers throughout our supply chain, with a focus on continuous improvement over time. We identify problems using several mechanisms – including constantly reviewing local labour market issues, undertaking multi-stakeholder engagement and assessing our suppliers' ability to meet our ethical standards through our audit programme.

How many factories and suppliers do you work with?

We currently work with 189 suppliers who, between them, use 541 factories across tier one and two of our supply chain. They’re located in 28 different countries around the world.

Which countries do you source from?

We source our products from 27 countries. 88% of the factories making our products are located in China, Eastern Europe, India, Turkey and the UK. See our Sourcing Map for further information.

How many workers do you have in your supply chain?

From data captured during factory visits we have calculated that there are 108954 workers in our product supply chain.

How do you ensure that the workers in your supply chain are treated fairly?

Our ethical trade programme aims to ensure that every worker in our supply chain is respected and protected. We do this by:

  • Mapping our supply chain for better visibility of where our products and raw materials come from.
  • Regularly visiting factories to assess how they are performing against our standards and to provide support for implementing improvement plans if required.
  • Providing a hotline to over 800 factory workers in the UK through which they can raise concerns about their working conditions anonymously. We plan to roll our hotlines and worker surveys to other key sourcing regions in the near future.
  • Collaborating with others to bring about sustainable improvements in workers' lives. For more information see collaborating with others.

For more information see working with suppliers and collaborating with others.

Do you work with factories that have trouble meeting ASOS' ethical standards?

Our aim is always to work with, rather than give up on, suppliers and factories that have difficulty in meeting our standards. We do this by providing ongoing support to factories to implement improvement plans that are designed to improve working conditions. However, if a factory consistently fails to improve despite our best efforts to support remediation then we will, as a last resort, terminate the relationship.

Which organisations do you partner with on your projects?

We partner with the following organisations on projects designed to help us better understand the reasons behind poor labour practices and to ultimately create long-term improvements in workers' lives.

Sustainable sourcing FAQs

How do you know where your raw materials are coming from?

Clothing and apparel supply chains are complex, which makes traceability down to raw-material level challenging. Nevertheless, we are committed to building full transparency of our entire product supply chain. To do this we are:

  • Collaborating with expert organisations to help us better understand our supply chain. Working with the Better Cotton Initiative we have been able to trace the country of origin for 20% of our cotton. We are now working in partnership with Canopy on identifying country of origin for all of our cellulosic fibres. We plan to go further than just identification. We want to work towards 100% verified cotton and cellulosic fibres.
  • Meeting regularly with our own-label suppliers to build trust and encourage supply chain transparency.
  • Trialing a supply chain mapping system to record supplier relationship and performance information.

How do you define 'more sustainable' cotton?

At ASOS we define more sustainable cotton as that which has a minimal impact on the environment, while benefitting the people that farm it in terms of higher yields, increased profits and verification at farm level.

How do you measure/verify your sustainable achievements/verifications?

At ASOS we define more sustainable cotton as that which has a minimal impact on the environment, while benefitting the people that farm it in terms of higher yields, increased profits and verification at farm level.

What else are you doing with raw materials?

Viscose: In 2014, we announced our support for the campaign fronted by Canopy, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to protecting the world’s forests. We also committed to ensuring our clothing supply chain will be free of cellulosic fibre sourced from ancient or endangered forests by 2017.

Recycled: ASOS is committed to sourcing recycled materials where possible, including nylon, polyester, cotton and wool. We are developing a recycled fibre strategy for departments that use large volumes of synthetic fibres, plus recycled cotton for product areas like denim or recycled wool for knitwear and outerwear.

What are you doing to reduce chemicals in your supply chain?

Chemicals are found throughout any textile supply chain. Our biggest concern is hazardous chemicals. ASOS has identified the chemicals of greatest concern and communicate this through our Restricted Substance List (RSL) to suppliers.Surveillance testing is performed on a monthly basis to ensure our own-label products comply with global regulations.

What's your policy on GM cotton?

ASOS is technology neutral. We believe that farmers should have the freedom to choose to use genetically modified seeds.

How do you ensure animal welfare in your supply chain?

We strongly believe that animals should not suffer in the name of fashion, which is why we have a comprehensive animal welfare policy that can be viewed here. We regularly review and communicate our policy to suppliers and brands that trade with us.

What are you doing with regards to traceability?

We are committed to building full transparency of our supply chain right down to raw material level. To achieve this we are:

  • In the process of mapping our supply chain beyond tier one and two suppliers.
  • Trialling a supply chain mapping system to record supplier relationship and performance information.
  • Meeting regularly with our own-label suppliers to build trust and encourage supply chain transparency.
  • Collaborating with organisations such as the Better Cotton Initiative and the Leather Working Group to help us better understand the complex nature of clothing supply chains.

You can read more about our partnerships here.

What makes a product eligible to be promoted on the Eco Edit platform?

If a product meets any of the criteria below, it is eligible to be shown on the Eco Edit platform.

  • The sustainable fibre mix must contribute at least 50% of the fabric composition.
  • Lower environmental impact materials and processes.
  • Recycled/upcycled materials.
  • Sustainable cotton.
  • Small-scale manufacturing in Africa.
  • Handmade/handwoven.
  • Made by artisans/craftspeople.
  • Made under fair-trade principles.
  • Vintage.
  • Natural ingredients.
  • Parabens free.
  • Organic ingredients.
  • Community support.

What's your stance on Uzbekistan cotton?

ASOS' Ethical Trade programme aims to ensure the rights of workers in our supply chain are respected and protected. We are a member of the Better Cotton Initiative which does not allow Uzbek cotton to be sold by international traders or merchants as part of its Better Cotton standard, because forced labour is prevalent in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields. As we work towards our target of including 80% more sustainable Better Cotton in our ranges by 2020, we are becoming increasingly confident our cotton is being sourced more ethically. We are encouraged by ILO engagement with the Uzbek government on this issue and look forward to the day when Uzbek cotton farmers will benefit from the methodologies of Better Cotton.