How sustainable are your favourite brands?

News, blog and backgrounds about the sustainability scores of brands

Is Mango ripe for being Green?

Guest blog by Marina Alexandrova

Girls’ shopping sprees often lead there: Mango, a popular clothes store for the young, hip crowd, with a home base in Spain and shops all over the world. When you pass the Mango store, you may be additionally enticed by a welcoming window label: ‘Made in Green’ by AITEX. This sticker proclaims that all Mango clothes are produced without the use of harmful substances, and with respect for the environment and the rights of the workers. However, on the Rank a Brand sustainability report, Mango scores a disappointing E. Is Mango telling us the complete story here?

Green promises, low scores
Based on the information available in Mango’s 2010 sustainability report (currently the latest), the brand scores only 2 out of 16 points on the Rank a Brand sustainability score report, which is far below our sustainability standard. Mango gets one point for taking policy measures to reduce its carbon emissions, and another point for having a supplier Code of Conduct that applies the elementary fair labour laws.

According to Mango’s sustainability report, in June 2010 the company was issued the ‘Made in Green’ certification by the Textile Technology Institute (AITEX), the Oeko-Tex 100, to oversee that the company clothes contain no harmful chemicals and are manufactured with respect for the environment and the rights of workers. The company adds that this certification involves third party auditing of the raw materials and production plants, and ‘Made in Green’ will thus appear in Mango’s company information. When you look at it this way, it sounds quite promising doesn’t it?
Yet, the AITEX ‘Made in Green’ certification does not thoroughly meet our sustainability criteria. Although ‘Made in Green’ sometimes uses the approved Oeko-Tex 1000 certification scheme for the textile production process, at other times (as it appears in Mango’s case) it applies the Oeko-Tex 100 standard, which is not sufficient. Most importantly, this standard does not cover waste water issues during the production stage, which has negative effects on the environment.

Not so fair?
The ‘Made in Green’ certification also promises to respect universal rights of employees, however, we were unable to find much more than that in the company’s sustainability report. As mentioned earlier, Mango applies a general Code of Conduct for its employees. However, it fails to give specific further details on how ‘Made in Green’ respects workers’ rights in Mango’s operations.
So when you shop at Mango thinking that you’re buying a piece of clothing produced in an environmentally friendly and socially sound way, the real deal is somewhat less comforting. The question is, is Mango aware of the differences between the Oeko-Tex certificates and their environmental effects, or is it window dressing for the added benefit of the conscious consumer? Also, what do they acclaim when referring to production “with respect for the human and universal rights of employees” (p. 23, Mango Sustainability Report 2010)? Honestly, we don’t know. And since we can’t find any more concrete information on these issues, we are inclined to suspect that Mango does not know either…

It’s all about transparency
As a customer nowadays, you are promised sustainable initiatives on the left and right. The problem with Mango’s ‘Made in Green’ certification and the information given in the CSR report is that as a consumer, you are given the impression that you don’t need to doubt their sustainability standards, while in reality we detect considerable room for improvement. The company’s sustainability report should include more concrete and transparent information on their climate and environmental policies as well as labour standards – regardless of their endorsement by Made in Green. This standard, unfortunately, does not clearly meet the necessary sustainability criteria.

In the meantime, we look forward to having a not so sneaky peak at Mango’s 2011 sustainability report to assess if Mango can possibly add a couple of extra points to its scorecard in the future. We hope so.

Have you also noticed the ‘Made in Green’ sticker on the Mango shop window? Do you think that this may be a form of window dressing? If you want Mango to provide more transparent information on their certification label and/or general sustainability practices, you can poke Mango and voice your opinion here.


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