Coats raises ambition on pioneering a sustainable future
4 March 2021: Coats, the world’s leading industrial thread company, has published its 2020 Sustainability Report covering key sustainability performance data for the period 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.
The report, ‘Pioneering a sustainable future: raising our ambition’ provides an update on progress against the targets for 2022 published in the 2018 Sustainability Report.
Rajiv Sharma, Group Chief Executive, Coats, said: ‘Sustainability is not new to the way we do business at Coats. At the core of our company purpose, which we recently reviewed and refreshed, is to make the world a better and more sustainable place. It provides a clear driver for our strategic decisions.’
The ‘Raising our ambition’ subtitle of the report refers to two significant undertakings which will provide additional areas of emphasis to its strategy. Coats has committed to set science-based emissions reduction targets, across the entire value chain, that are consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. It has also committed to develop a long term target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, the highest level of ambition on climate under the Science Based Target initiative. In addition it has become a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the leading proponent of the idea of circular economies which aligns closely with Coats objectives to develop products and processes that are compatible with this.
Covid 19 reshaped the strategic focus for 2020. Ensuring the safety and economic and physical wellbeing of employees and their families during the pandemic has been the absolute top priority. Building on the strong health and safety culture and further momentum established in 2019, Coats was able to develop and roll out a structured response two weeks before the pandemic was declared based on the well know PPRR model (Preparedness, Prevention, Response and Recovery). It also developed its own track and trace app. In addition Coats has continued to develop its health and safety and ethics programmes and has completed a review of remuneration against Living Wage benchmarks.
There has been a digitalising of health and safety through using artificial intelligence in its workplace camera network to identify activities that might be unsafe. The ultimate measure of success is the number of incidents but as that is a lagging indicator, proactive identification of hazards and the development of remedial actions and training are all leading measures that are managed through enhanced digital platforms. These have also been used for monitoring Covid safe measures, such as social distancing and mask wearing.
Coats launched its sustainability strategy in 2019 when it set out seven ambitious targets for 2022 to accelerate the company’s progress towards a more sustainable future. The targets are across five priority areas: water, energy, effluent and emissions, social and living sustainably.
Coats achieved a 6% reduction in the amount of water used per kilogramme of thread produced in 2020, against a target of 40% by 2022. One key contribution has come from the dyehouse operations in Bangladesh which have developed innovative ways to adapt traditional machines to work with much less water and to reduce the ratio of water required per kilo of thread. During 2020 the learnings and new practices from this ‘Short Liquor Ratio’ project have been extended to additional sites across the world.
There was a 3% reduction in energy used per kilogramme of thread produced in 2020, against a target of 7% by 2022. Energy consumption during 2020 was considerably lower than in 2019 due to reduced production volumes as a result of the Covid pandemic. However, Coats has managed to continue implementing energy efficiency projects such as in the US, where an air blower on a drying machine was replaced with a larger capacity one running off the same motor and therefore reduced the drying time. Installing inverters on air compressors in India reduced energy wastage when air demand is below full capacity and saves over 20% of the energy use. Coats also continues shifting electricity supply to renewable sources.
74% of effluent in 2020 was compliant with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals effluent standards against a target of 100% by 2022. Coats continues to invest substantially in upgrading and modernising its effluent treatment plants with all key sites being monitored continuously for key parameters with automatic sensors. With the transparency Coats now has on all types of waste across its units, it is beginning to see the benefit in reduction of waste generation and increased reuse or recycling of waste, and was able to reduce waste by 8% compared to 2018.
13% of premium thread sales in 2020 were recycled against a target of 100% by 2024. During 2020, Coats has significantly expanded its EcoVerde range of 100% recycled polyester threads. It now includes a broader range of 100% polyester corespun thread sizes which means that all garment segments can find the thread that they need. It has also expanded the range of substrates to include polyester-cotton corespun, microfilament texturised and embroidery thread. The range will continue to expand in 2021 and the availability of recycled material is also being extended into the non-premium thread offering.
In 2020 6% of employees were covered by external social certifications, such as Great Place to Work against a target of 80% by 2022. Due to the pandemic the 2020 target to have a number of the biggest units certified was put on hold as it involves site visits and employee interviews. Only Brazil was able to renew its certification.
Andrew Morgan, Head of Sustainability, Coats, said: ‘Overall we have made good progress across many of our target areas. While there remains more left to do to meet our targets than expected at this point, we remain committed to delivering on them and to the original timelines for 2022 and 2024.’
For further information go to our Sustainability section of the website.