We are currently assessing our carbon footprint, but based on industry estimates the materials used in our products account for around 40% of our total carbon footprint. Some of our high-volume materials also entail other environmental and social risks. Based on these factors, our priority focus areas for materials are: cotton, timber, animal-derived materials (e.g. sheepskin, leather and feathers) and palm oil.
We use cotton in most of the textile-based products that we sell, such as bed linen, curtains and fabric. Cotton is farmed in over 100 countries and its production and export is vital to economies in many developing countries. However, there are also environmental and social risks associated with its farming and processing (e.g. high water and pesticide use, and poor regional working conditions). In 2019 we worked with a third-party specialist to map our cotton supply chains against these risks and identify high-risk regions or suppliers. Our first step is to work with suppliers to increase scrutiny and seek documented evidence to demonstrate compliance with our responsible sourcing standards. If no action is taken within an acceptable period, Dunelm will stop buying products from that supplier and supply chain. More information can be found in our Cotton Responsible Sourcing Policy, available to view and download here.
Timber is a scarce resource owing to illegal harvesting and deforestation. This is a global issue as forests play a critical role in limiting climate change and supporting biodiversity. In Europe, timber importers must comply with the European Timber Regulations (EUTR), which enforce demonstration of legal sourcing, and we request this information from suppliers who use timber or paper in Dunelm products. We also support the Forestry Standards Commission (FSC) certification scheme, which sets standards for well-managed forests.
We are working with an independent third-party to assess risks in our timber supply chains based on timber type and country of origin. This work is part of our commitment to source 100% of timber and paper in our own brand products from responsibly managed forests by 2025. We are also looking to introduce recycled timber in our products and reviewing other certified schemes. More details can be found in our current Responsible Sourcing Policy: Timber and Paper, available here.
Although we aim to seek alternatives if possible, some materials used in our products come from animals. These products include sheepskin and leather (used predominantly in our furniture ranges), down and feathers, wool and animal hair (used in quilts, pillows, cushions and upholstery). Our policy is unequivocal – we only use humanely-sourced materials, which are a by-product of the food industry and from conventionally farmed animals. No materials are sourced from reptiles, exotic or domestic animals, and no real fur may be used. We ban imports from certain countries where poor practices have been identified, for example, in the tanning process. Our animal and welfare policy is guided by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee’s Five Freedoms and used in conjunction with all current UK, EU and international animal welfare legislation and relevant import and trade regulations. More details can be found here.
We set ourselves the target of using sustainably sourced palm oil in all Dunelm brand and Pausa products by the end of FY20. At June 2020 our compliance was 90%. We have engaged a third-party assessor to manage this on our behalf alongside our responsible timber and cotton programme. We anticipate meeting our target of 100% by December 2020.