Coop Naturaline – Fashion & Fairness

By Emma Arvidsson (Coop), Simona Matt (Coop), Coop
05:25 PM, April 16, 2012

Coop launched its Naturaline brand in 1993. Today, the company is one of the world’s largest retailers of Fairtrade organic cotton.

Coop has worked with REMEI AG since 1994. Together, they have developed a set of social and ecological requirements for fashionwear. This longstanding partnership received the Business Award for Sustainable Development Partnerships at the 2002 United Nations World Summit in Johannesburg. Sustainability runs through our value chain like a continuous thread, from the farmer right through to the finished fashion garment. Coop ensures organic cotton production, ecological processing, and fair working conditions along the entire supply chain.

The organic cotton for Naturaline textiles is grown in bioRe® projects in Maikaal (India) and Meatu (Tanzania). Today, over 8,000 farmers in India and Tanzania are involved. Organic farming enables the farmers to escape the spiral of debt, as they do not have to take out loans to purchase expensive chemicals and GMO seeds. In addition, organic farmers use techniques such as crop rotation and produce compost and natural pesticides to achieve good yields. Organic farming also stabilizes ecosystems, while renouncing monocultures prevents a loss of earnings in case of drought or pest infestations. What is more, the farmers receive an organic premium and a purchase guarantee for their organic cotton harvest, hence attaining greater added value.

Fair working conditions

The social criteria for farming include: training and consulting services; an organic premium; a purchase guarantee; farmers’ representation and co-determination; workers’ rights and absence of discrimination; capital build-up and reinforcement of organizations; and initiation of and support for social projects.

Coop works together with the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) in textile processing. In 2005, the BSCI Code of Conduct replaced the textile codex that had been in force since 2000. All direct suppliers in developing countries are involved in the audit process, which is supported and supervised by Coop and REMEI AG. Compliance with SA8000 is the long-term goal for all Coop Naturaline business associates. The social criteria include:

  • freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
  • no discrimination is practiced
  • child labor is prohibited
  • legal minimum and/or industry standard wages are paid
  • working hours are compliant with national laws and do not exceed 48 hours regular plus 12 hours overtime
  • there is no forced labor or disciplinary measures
  • the workplace is safe and healthy
  • the environment is respected
  • a social accountability policy is in place
  • an anti-bribery and anti-corruption policy is enforced
  • statutory and international conventions are upheld

Ecological processing

Naturaline products protect textile workers from toxic chemicals, substances, and colors during processing. Precise threshold values are defined for textile production. In particular, no chlorine or formaldehyde is used in processing. Moreover, further optimization is achieved thanks to effective input management and controlled wastewater treatment.

For Coop, REMEI AG, and bioRe® India and Tanzania, traceability means the entire production process is fully documented and certified sustainable – in both ecological and social terms. Every Naturaline bioRe® garment is therefore marked with a numeric code that enables every single production step to be traced all the way back to the region where the cotton was harvested.

Social projects for farming families

The bioRe® Association is responsible for implementing social projects in India and Tanzania. The Coop Sustainability Fund supports these bioRe® projects. They include:

  • Agricultural Training Centers: At bioRe® Training Centers and during on-the-field training, farmers learn all the skills they need to be successful in organic cultivation.
  • Animation Schools: The aim of animation schools is to enroll children in a school who up to now have been deprived of their right to education. Animation means that the community and, in particular, the children’s parents are made aware of the importance of education and establish a village school together.
  • Mobile Health Unit: Where doctors were previously unavailable, the Mobile Health Unit brings relief today.

In 2008–2009, REMEI AG produced more than 1.5 million garments for brands including Coop, Greenpeace Magazine, Mammut, and REWE. Nonetheless, Coop continues to be REMEI AG’s most significant and reliable customer. Coop Naturaline is a range of around 440 articles made from organic Fairtrade cotton. These range from basics such as T-shirts and pajamas to seasonal, trendy garments. At Coop, annual sales of Naturaline textiles and cotton-wadding products have risen from an initial 3 million Swiss francs to reach 65 million Swiss francs in 2009. Today, the partnership between Coop and REMEI AG is flourishing to such an extent that the Naturaline brand is also sold under license outside of Switzerland. Distribution partners are located in France, Finland, and Belgium.


CO2-neutral Naturaline products by 2013

“We decided to implement our own CO2 project to improve the living conditions for farmers locally,” says Jürg Peritz, head of Marketing/Purchasing Business Unit, vice chairman of Coop Executive Committee. Coop and REMEI AG are planning a shift to CO2-neutral production of all Naturaline textiles and cotton-wadding products by the end of 2013. Several pilot projects were launched as a first step. In 2008, 80,000 CO2-neutral Naturaline T-shirts were produced in India and 20,000 in Tanzania. Coop and REMEI AG’s CO2 projects are pioneering, and are a prime example of the fruits of longstanding cooperation. As of spring 2010, the entire Naturaline standard range is being progressively switched over to CO2 neutrality. How is CO2-neutral production achieved? The first step is to cut CO2 emissions in the production chain. Any remaining CO2 emissions are then compensated for by local projects. For instance, farming families are given financial support to build biogas plants for their homes. These systems turn the manure produced by their cattle into gas, which is used as household fuel. This not only reduces CO2 emissions by 2 to 3 tons per household annually – it also means healthier farmers and a better ecosystem.

This project description was originally presented in the Global Compact International Yearbook 2010.

About the Authors
Arvidsson, Emma

 Emma Arvidsson is CSR project manager at Coop.

Matt, Simona

Ms Matt works with Coop in Switzerland. 


About Coop

Coop, a Swiss cooperative, is the second largest retailer after the Migros in Switzerland. In 2001, Coop merged with 11 cooperative federations which had been its main suppliers for over 100 years. As of 2007, Coop operates 1437 shops and employs almost 48 200 people. According to Bio Suisse, the Swiss organic producers' association, Coop accounts for half of all the organic food sold in Switzerland. Coop's four primary organic brands are Coop Oecoplan, Coop Naturaline, Coop Naturaplan, and Max Havelaar.

Coop also has a low-cost product line, "Prix Garantie." Other than that, the latest product line from Coop is entitled PlanB and focuses on young clients looking for food on the go.

The chain has an online presence called coop@home. The web site offers much of the same selection found in the Coop stores and delivers groceries, wine, flowers, books, and other products to customers in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. It currently markets its services in German, French, and English.

Coop and Sustainability

Sustainability is an integral part of the Coop Group's business activities and a cornerstone of its long-term success. Coop has therefore incorporated sustainability into its Articles of Association, Corporate Profile and Mission Statement. It translates this responsibility into practice in its everyday operations and focuses on strong, long-term partnerships and joint solutions.

Its annual Sustainability Report provides transparent information on Coop's ecological and social-accountability activities, its goals and the measures it takes to achieve them.

Coop coordinates all its sustainability-related activities through the Sustainability Steering Committee, on which all the business units and departments concerned are represented. This body directs projects dealing with sustainable sourcing and corporate ecology and checks the extent to which they achieve their goals. It also sets priorities for implementation and communication.

Wherever possible, Coop seeks to integrate sustainability into its standard procedures and processes. It also incorporates the sustainability goals into its individual strategies. Hence, line management is responsible for implementing sustainability-related measures. It is supported by a small team of specialists responsible for clarifying issues, providing advice, organizing in-house training and coordinating projects.

Two interdepartmental committees for food and non-food respectively define general questions concerning standards, priorities and any corrective measures to be taken. The actual work of coordinating sustainable sourcing is done in small, project-related working groups.

At the corporate-ecology level, Coop has set up two centres of excellence: one focuses on manufacturing companies, distribution centres and logistics, the other on the total of over 1,600 points of sale.


Coop operates a wide range of store formats in the food, non-food and service sector.

Source: coop/wikipedia

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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