FAQ - Sustainability

Organic cotton is cotton grown from non-GMO seeds, and without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Instead of using artificial and chemical cultivation methods, as primarily used for conventional cotton, organic cotton farming uses natural and traditional methods. By employing ecological processes like crop rotation and introducing biodiversity, organic farming not only benefits the soil, ecosystems and the environment, but also promotes a good quality of life for farmers and their communities. Organic cotton also uses 88% less water. (source: Textile Exchange LCA)
Bangladesh has an extremely skilled workforce in the garment industry, allowing us to produce garments of the highest quality.

99% of our total production comes from Bangladesh - we are very proud of this fact as our involvement in the textile industry there has contributed to the country’s economic upgrade and the social advancement of its workers.
 
Twenty years ago, Bangladesh was one of the poorest countries in the world, yet today its economy is ranked 41st worldwide, and 20 million people have been lifted out of poverty in two decades. The textile industry is one of the most critical drivers of annual GDP growth and accounts for 80% of the total of Bangladesh exports.

We’ll keep working in Bangladesh so that we can keep on making a positive impact on the textile industry there. We are working with a limited amount of partners (6) and with Quality Controllers on the ground, we are able to thoroughly assess and control working conditions to truly make a positive difference for factory workers.
Fair or decent wages is a complicated topic in South East Asia. In Bangladesh, local government sets the minimum wage level and the BGMEA (Bangladesh Association of Garment Exporters and Manufacturers) requires all its members to adhere to it in order to avoid major tensions between workers and factories.

Often an out-and-out wage increase will be accompanied by an increase in the cost of living, as the price of rent and food inflate in factory areas.

We make sure that we remunerate our partners above the minimum social levels imposed by the government. To support workers, we will only work with factories that add extra benefits to wages, such as in-house childcare facilities, maternity leave, medical care, free transportation and performance and attendance bonuses, to name but a few.

Stanley/Stella is proud to be in Bangladesh - leaving the country will not help improve worker conditions. But progress will take time, as Bangladesh still needs to protect its competitiveness against bordering countries as India, Cambodia and Myanmar.

We are currently recommending and facilitating all of our supplier factories to set up Fair-priced Grocery Shops (FGS) inside their factories to offer basic commodities like rice, oil and other non-perishable daily essentials to their factory workers at a reduced price. Stanley/Stella funds the subsidies through discounts for select best-selling products while the factories manage the shops themselves, or bring in a 3rd party service provider.

Our 2025 Strategic Plan includes the project of paying the Living wage to all workers of our CMT factories. We know it will be difficult to implement but we will make it happen.
By 2030, we are committed to become climate positive meaning that we will be offsetting more greenhouse gas emissions than we emit. To achieve this, in 2021 we will measure our entire footprint in our value chain from the cotton fields, manufacture and use. We aim at reducing as much emissions as possible and compensate the remaining ones through different projects
Our organic cotton makes the following journey:

Organic cotton farms (India) → Ginning (India) → Spinning (Bangladesh) → Dyeing -sewing-finishing (Bangladesh) → Finished garments (Antwerp)

Our organic cotton is grown in India, which is also where the ginning is performed. After ginning, it is transported to Bangladesh where it is spun to yarn.

We currently work with 6 partner factories, all well located in Bangladesh - Dird, Interstoff, Meghna, Ahsan (mostly Essentials),GMS and Ausbangla (accessories). After dyeing, cutting, sewing, finishing and packaging, the finished garments are shipped by boat to Antwerp, Belgium and stored in our KTN warehouse. The cotton we use is certified throughout the whole supply chain by GOTS, from ginning to our warehouse.
Our consumption of organic cotton requires the work of around 15.000 organic farmers in total, so it is impossible for us to name them individually. Consider the following calculation:

  • Stanley/Stella sells around 15 million pieces per year
  • 1 piece is around 300 gr
  • That’s around 4,5 million kg net cotton
  • For this we need 15 million kg gross cotton (including seeds)
  • In India, the average farmer produces 1.000 kg cotton/year

Cotton traceability
Our organic raw material sourcing complies with GOTS and/or OCS protocol and is guaranteed by traceability certifications. But we want to take this even further and get closer to having end-to-end visibility on our full supply chain, from thousands of local Indian cotton farmers to the final product.  We are currently identifying and tracing all the farmers, ginners, spinners and composite garment manufacturers that work with us. By starting to connect the local farmers and farm groups in our supply chain, we will be better able to understand and support them, and help improve their livelihoods in the future.
Our organic cotton is transported from India to Bangladesh by truck and from Bangladesh to Antwerp by boat.

The answer to the second question above is subject to many variables throughout the supply chain. Here follows a rough estimation of kms travelled from the cotton field to the Port of Antwerp in Europe.

MaterialFromToMode of
Transportation
Distance
Travalled
Raw CottonMadhya PradeshGujarat (Ginning)Truck (by road)1,000 kms
Ginned CottonGujaratMundraTruck (by road)300 kms
Ginned CottonMudra PortChittagong PortShip (by sea)5,090 kms (2748 nm)
Ginned CottonChittagong PortGazipur (Spinning)Truck (by road)320 kms
Cotton YarnGazipurGazipur (Knitting, Dyeing, CMT)Truck (by road)35 kms
Finished GarmentsGazipurChittagong PortTruck (by road)280 kms
Finished GarmentsChittagong PortAntwerp PortShip (by sea)16,618 kms (8973 nm)
Total from Cotton Field in MP to Antwerp Port23,643 kms
GOTS:
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) a worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria. It is a stringent certification, that guarantees that cotton is organically grown, ie without the use of GMO’s, or any harmful products (such as chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers and chemical insecticides) that cause harm to the environment or the health of farmers or factory workers. It ensures traceability from the field to the final client, including transaction certificates at each and every stage of production.
The GOTS Label on the garments and on communication tools can only be displayed if the final decorator is GOTS certified himself.

Fair Wear Foundation:
Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is an independent multi-stakeholder organisation that works with garment brands, garment workers and industry influencers to improve labour conditions in garment factories. FWF are active in Bangladesh where they audit factories and implement effective lobbying with trade-unions, European governments and other NGO's to up-lift wages. FWF carries out brand performance checks every year to help brands determine what they are doing well and where they can make improvements. Making the results of these checks public ensures transparency and keeps member brands accountable. The FWF logo can be used by our customers, but only with our name on it, mentioning that Stanley/Stella is a member of FWF.

OCS:
The Organic Content Standard (OCS) is a certification that applies to products containing at least 5% organic material. Stanley/Stella is using the OCS certificate only for a very limited number of products which contain less than 70% of organic cotton.
It verifies the presence and amount of organic material in a final product and tracks the flow of the raw material from its source to the final product. OCS only applies to the product material content, and not to labels, packaging or inks etc. The percentage of organic cotton content in the final product does not have to be over 70%, which means we can get certified for 50/50 products like our Modal/organic cotton blend or Sherpa hodies, for example. The OCS logo can be used by customers, but they have to follow the 'OCS Logo Use and Claims Guide'

GRS:
The Global Recycle Standard (GRS) is an international, voluntary, full-product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices and chemical restrictions. GRS certifies that the fabric/yarn is made from recycled materials such as PET bottles or recycled canvas. The GRS logo can be used by customers. For the moment only our accessories are GRS certified. Even though we are using PET bottles for our jackets and our yarn supplier is GRS certified, the stitching unit is not.

Oeko-tex:
Oeko-Tex is a label that guarantees that no harmful chemicals have been used during the textile production process. Its follows REACH, the EU regulation which restricts chemicals and heavy metals in all consumer products. The Oeko-tex logo can be used by customers.
Our products are certified throughout the whole supply chain, from the cotton field to the finished product shipped to Europe. GOTS certification ensures that all the cotton we use is from an organic source, which means no GMO seeds, fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides or chemicals are used at any point during production. Furthermore, we are also certified by Oeko-tex, which guarantees no harmful substances are used during the production process, including dyeing and finishing and that the maximum limit of restricted substances has been respected. 
Our recycled polyester comes from China and is made from post-consumer PET bottles. Please note that our jackets are not GRS certified. Even though we are using PET bottles for our jackets and our yarn supplier is GRS certified, the stitching unit is not yet.

The recycled polyester used for our sweatshirts is also coming from China.
Once the fabric or the t-shirt is dyed, the coloured water does not go into the rivers or into nature but goes directly in some ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant) that will treat and clean the coloured water through a specific process.
 
All the factories we are working with are equipped with ETP.  At the end of the treatment, there is on one side the treated wastewater and on the other side, the sludge.
 
The treated wastewater can be used either to irrigate farms, toilet flush water… or in the cooling systems of the machines for instance.
 
The sludge is  preserved for a few months to properly solidify  and then used as a combustive.  
All garments are treated with chemicals, in accordance with our two certification’s requirements:  Standard 100 by Oeko-tex and GOTS. Therefore, they are harmless in human ecological term. Please note that chemicals (not toxic ones) are crucial to get the performance and aesthetics of a product.

As sustainability is in the heart of everything we do, we are actually working on the possibility to dye with natural colorants coming from plants, food waste, minerals…in order to reduce even more our chemical footprint. The main issues we are facing in the development of these natural dyes are the availability at a large scale (you can easily home dye yourself our t-shirts with food waste for instance), the stability of these dyes during the time, the consistency of the colour and the price. 
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