Corporate Social Responsibility
Debenhams Sustainability Report

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Newlife – The Charity for Disabled Children

We’ve teamed up with Newlife to recycle our old stock and fabric waste. Not only does this give our old clothes a new lease of life, it supports Newlife’s work to change the lives of disabled and terminally ill children across the UK. From October 2019, all clothes at stores and support centres will be recycled by Newlife.

Who is Newlife?

Established in 1991 – co founded by Shelia Brown (OBE) and Leonard Lewis, Newlife is a charity dedicated to directly improving disabled children and their families. They grant or loan specialist equipment for children with disabilities, provide information and support to families, and fund medical research.

The Reality…

There are now 1.1 million disabled and terminally ill children in the UK, more than ever before. One in every 27 households is believed to have a disabled child in the family, with often more than one. There are insufficient funds in the statutory services to provide the life changing equipment required to provide the support needed.

Newlife gives more specialist equipment than any other (non-statutory) organisation in the UK and are continually funding research to actively improving child health-today and tomorrow.

What do we recycle?

Our stores and support centres will use this process for stock and sample disposal of all product types.


We have reported our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for our UK, Irish and Danish operations since 2008. Since then, our footprint boundary has evolved to include areas such as other international offices, packaging, production of hangers, and manufacture of catalogues, brochures and direct mail. This section provides a breakdown of our GHG emissions for this year.

With the support of Ricardo Energy & Environment, we have applied the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (revised edition), and the UK Government Conversion Factors for Company Reporting, 2018, to calculate our carbon emissions. Our annual reporting year is 3rd September 2017 to 1st September 2018 and we report GHG emissions in line with this period. For the last two years we followed the GHG Protocol’s new, Scope 2 emissions reporting guidance and used two different quantification methods: location-based and market-based. We have followed this latest methodology again this year . Scope 2 emissions using the market-based method are lower than with the location-based approach, mainly because of our decision to purchase 100% renewable electricity in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This year, our overall carbon footprint has decreased by 21%, from 177,611 tonnes CO2e in 2017 to 140,352 tonnes CO2e this year (using the location-based approach). Table 1 below provides a breakdown of these figures.

Table 1: Absolute GHG emissions from Scope 1, 2 and 3 shown in tonnes CO2e








Scope 1







Scope 2 (Location-based)







Scope 2 (market-based)

Not calculated; market-based method was introduced in FY2016




Scope 3














*Total emissions calculated using the location-based Scope 2 emissions figure.

Emissions data are made more meaningful when compared to a core business variable. We have used intensity ratios, alongside the absolute figures provided above, to report our GHG emissions in the context of our annual turnover and premises floor area.

Table 2 shows the total annual turnover and floor area for the whole business. The total absolute emissions are then divided by these figures to provide tonnes of CO2e per million pounds of turnover and tonnes of CO2e per m2 of floor area, respectively, as shown in Table 3.

These tables show that the tonnes CO2e for both intensity metrics have also decreased.

Table 2 Data used for intensity measurements

FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Turnover (£m) 2,777 2,824 2,860 2,939 2,954 2,900
Total floor area** (m2) 1,808,398 1,850,874 1,867,291 1,876,533 1,873,568 1,904,937***

**This total floor area included back of store, offices and distribution centres.

***For FY2018 the accuracy of the calculation of the back of store areas was improved, causing an increase in total floor area.

Table 3 Assessment of absolute footprint emissions

FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Absolute Emissions (tCO2e) 174,080 193,365 190,930 204,136* 177,611* 140,352*
Absolute tCO2e / £m Turnover 63 68 67 69 60 48
Absolute tCO2e / m2 0.096 0.104 0.102 0.109 0.095 0.074

*Total emissions calculated using the location-based Scope 2 emissions figure.

The carbon footprint has decreased across all three scopes this year compared to 2017. The main reasons for the decrease in the overall emissions is due to a reduction in: electricity consumption, including the associated grid losses (32% reduction); air imports (27% reduction).

We will continue to conduct projects that will reduce our footprint and environmental impacts. We are committed to continuously improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and operations as seen by a reduction in this year’s carbon footprint. In FY2018; we invested over £3 million and retrofitted LED lighting in 12 stores. These projects have not only delivered excellent results in reducing energy use, but have also led to a more comfortable customer environment. For 2019 we will be focussing on energy savings that can be achieved through behavioural change, primarily through the use of energy alerts that will be sent to store management teams if they breach energy thresholds (based on historic use).

We have a carbon reduction target to reduce group-wide Scope 1 and 2 absolute operational CO2e emissions by 10% by 2020 against our 2007/08 baseline. The FY2018 Scope 1 and Scope 2 total emissions have reduced by 47% compared to the Scope 1 and 2 CO2e emissions in FY2008. This suggests that if the reduction continues, or remains stable, we will meet our target by 2020.

Overall, the progress on improvement and monitoring management remains stringent and during the next few years towards 2020, we aim to continue to positively contribute to the Better Retail Climate as part of our drive to save energy and protect the environment.


1 The location-based method reflects the average emissions intensity of grids on which energy consumption occurs, whereas the market-based method reflects emissions from the electricity that companies have chosen in the market (or their lack of choice).

Environmental and Chemical Policy

Debenhams as an international retailer sources and sells goods globally. We have a responsibility to ensure that all products are produced to the highest standards, are safe for use, and exceed customers’ expectations, whilst protecting their health and the environment. Therefore it is essential that we source responsibly by engaging with our suppliers and manufacturers by providing training and support to ensure Debenhams meet all requirements and standards whilst adhering to all local or national laws.

Our RSL (Restricted Substances List) specifies the chemical limits permitted in our products in line with REACH (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and standards set by international markets. The aim of the Debenhams RSL is to reduce and/or eradicate harmful chemicals by substituting them with available alternatives. Operating within the chemical limits of our RSL ensures that we protect the environment in which we operate, and the health of people in our global supply chain and consumers. Our policy and RSL (Restricted Substance List) are regularly reviewed and updated in line with developing legislation.

Animal Testing and Animal Welfare


To ensure all animal derived materials are sourced from farms practicing good animal husbandry to protect the fair and ethical treatment of animals.


Animal Testing – Prohibited:

Debenhams does not support the use of animal testing across any product range. We do not knowingly acquire products or ingredients from suppliers that have commissioned animal testing. Animal testing in the EU has been banned since March 2013, the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 prohibits the performance of animal testing in the European Union for finished products or ingredients.

Animal Fur – Prohibited:

Endangered Species – Prohibited:


Live plucking and force feeding of geese and ducks is prohibited. Feathers used for Debenhams products must be a by-product of the food industry and evidence of this should be submitted to product technologists during the product approval process.

Evidence includes and is not limited to: Origin of source, species, handling and transparency of full supply chain, which must be recorded and available upon request.

Examples of acceptable documentation include valid 3rd-party certification to the following:

Feathers and down used for Debenhams products must be:

Supplementary requirements for feather and down-filled products:

Cashmere and Mohair

Must be sourced from suppliers and producers with good animal husbandry. Animal fibres must be responsibly harvested by natural shedding and combing practices.


All leather used must be a by-product of the food industry. Debenhams supports farms practicing the ‘Five Freedoms’:


Must be sourced from farmers with good animal husbandry and do not practise the activity of mulesing.

Cosmetic Regulations

Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009

This legal requirement came into force on July the 11th 2013 throughout all the EU member states.

It places greater requirements on the Responsible Person’ that manufactures or imports a cosmetic product. To demonstrate safety, the Regulation places more rigorous demands to generate, record, document and update information in a more stringent manner.

This includes the registration of product, with notification of sale and compositional information supplied to the EU Commission who issue the information to the Poison Centres and Member States. The regulation provides for the assessment of product safety and the prohibition of animal testing.

Timber Sourcing

Debenhams has a complex supply chain. We continually assess our suppliers as part of our on-going ethical compliance programme. Part of our policies and procedures for good forest management include the requirement that our suppliers source timber legally.

In 2010 the EU parliament voted to outlaw illegal timber or products made from such wood from entering the EU.

The EU Legal Timber Regulation (995/2010) places responsibility on importers to have undertaken sufficient guarantees that timber and timber based products they bring into the EU are legally harvested and fully traceable back to the source of the forest. Only when an acceptable risk level has been identified, may merchandise be placed on the EU market, post 3rd March 2013.

We have partnered with Bureau Veritas (BV) to carry out risk assessments and traceability of the timber sourced for our own brand products within scope of the regulation.

BV is accredited as a monitoring organization by the EU commission. (

Documentation demonstrating compliance to applicable legislation in the Country of harvest i.e. Right to harvest/ Payment for harvest rights and duties, Timber harvesting, Tenure & Use rights, Trade & Customs documents.

Working with our suppliers we continually monitor and improve as necessary our due diligence process for assessment and management to mitigate our timber risks. This is particularly crucial for our suppliers in jurisdictions that lack robust environmental protection. We recognize and support the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

REACH Policy


The EU REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 came into force on the 2nd of June 2007. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals, and is the most significant piece of chemical legislation to enter into force since the introduction of the Dangerous Substances Directive in 1967. REACH has a significant impact on manufactures, importers and users of chemicals, as well as retailers and their suppliers.


The fundamental requirement of REACH is that EU business that manufactures or import Annex XVII chemical substances into the EU in excess of 1 tonne per annum, must register said substances with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), who are based in Helsinki.

Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs)

Under Article 33(1) of the EU REACH Regulation producers, importers and other suppliers have to inform recipients about Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) contained in articles above 0.1% weight by weight (w/w), by law, within 45 days.

Waste Electrical (WEEE), Batteries and Waste Packaging


The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) was introduced into UK law in January 2007 with the aim of reducing the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) going to landfill. As a producer and a distributor of electrical goods Debenhams are:

In 2016 Debenhams achieved a 100% compliance rate in store audits conducted by National Measurement Regulation Office (NMRO) the enforcement body responsible for compliance to the WEEE and Batteries Regulations.

Each store visited by the NMRO demonstrated compliance to Retailer and Distributor obligations which can be found:


The EU Batteries Directive was introduced with the aim of reducing the amount of used batteries ending up in landfill. As a producer and distributor of batteries, Debenhams are:

Waste Packaging

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste Regulations) were introduced in 1997 with the aim of reducing the amount of packaging ending up in landfill. As a Producer of packaging Debenhams are obligated to:

Sustainable fashion has never been so in demand and more and more people are choosing a vegan lifestyle than ever before. In line with this growing focus on ethics, the demand for compassionate and sustainable homeware is also on the increase…

To celebrate the work of designers and retailers who are considering animal’s cruelty, the environment and sustainability, PETA have created the first ever PETA Vegan Homewares Awards.

Debenhams has been awarded: Best Down Free Bedding Feels like down™ Micro-Fibre Duvet


Energy efficiency lies at the heart of our clean and green approach. Over the last 5 years, we have delivered a continuous programme of energy investment and benefits spanning people, procurement and projects. This has helped to achieve absolute year on year reductions in carbon emissions, despite our growing estate. We have been reporting our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2008 and reporting online to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) since 2010. We participate in the UK government’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme where we and have achieved reductions in both carbon emissions and overall energy consumption since the inception of the scheme. Our greenhouse gas (GHG) foot printing, reporting and assurance services are provided by Ricardo Energy and Environment. 

Power to the People

People play a very important part in delivering and sustaining our energy reductions, so we provide store colleagues with simple targeted tools to help monitor and minimize their energy usage. Using energy alerts store teams are able to view their energy profiles on a daily basis and receive a weekly summary of their usage and whether they are breaching energy thresholds. Regional league tables help to identify which stores are performing well and help to generate competition between them.  

LED Project

In 2018, we invested over £3 million and retrofitted LED lighting in 12 stores. These projects have not only delivered excellent results in reducing energy use but have also led to a more comfortable customer environment.

Committed to the Cause

Debenhams is committed to continuously improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and operations and continue to make progress towards our group wide carbon target of reducing absolute operational CO2e emissions by 10% by 2020 against our 2007/08 baseline.

This will drive us to deliver continuous improvements in energy efficiency and explore innovative technologies to help reduce energy and carbon usage across our stores, logistics operations and offices.


Following the success of being awarded a Green Apple in 2016, Debenhams have continued to focus on best practice and ongoing improvements of their waste management plan.

The re-launch of the recycling programme has been scheduled for September 2017 and focuses on, improved communications to stores and simplicity in processes. Combined with the ongoing support of New Star Environmental, Debenhams continues to remain focused on engaging with all stores to ensure that waste is managed responsibly.


Our supply chain partners have continued to invest in their infrastructures, which goes a long way towards ensuring that Debenhams consistently diverts more waste away from landfill whilst maintaining high service levels.

With the increased number of vehicles now able to weigh bins, we can identify locations where containers are above average weights and work with the stores to reduce the volumes following the waste hierarchy.

2018 Achievements

97% of the waste produced diverted away from Landfill.

6.3 Tonnes of FDG were donated to the Salvation Army

6.9 Tonnes of samples donated to TRAID within our support centres.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle


This year we have introduced 100% recycled bags for Life: 100% recyclable e-commerce mailing bags and all e-commerce cartons are made from 75% recycled content and are 100% recyclable.


We have standardised our hangers, reducing the number of types from 1000 to 50. On average 7 trailers of hangers, which is roughly 600,000 hangers are recycled from Debenhams each week. This generates approximately 16 tonnes of recycled material per week. Recycled material is then used to manufacture new hangers, fully closing the loop.


Compliance with Government targets – 30% recycled material to be used in all plastic packaging

Tailored Solutions

New Star Environmental, a recycling led waste management company, our partners since March 2012. With their experience and expertise, they manage contracts with a number of regional suppliers to ensure our sites have the most flexible and eco-efficient solutions available locally.

Carrier Bags

In line with compulsory legislation, carrier bag charges were introduced by the governments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since the introduction of the charge, Debenhams has donated all proceeds from the sale of single-use carrier bags to our nominated charities. The company continues to encourage customers to reduce the consumption of single-use bags and now only offers one single-use carrier bag option.

The carrier bag charge implemented in Northern Ireland is payable, as required, direct to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Debenhams provides its customers with the option of purchasing a ‘Bag for Life’ that is available in two sizes; medium and large, each bag carries a charge of 10p. Customers can exchange their Bag for Life for free at any Debenhams store when they become worn or damaged.

English Carrier Bag Data

  7th April 2016 – 6th April 2017 7th of April 2017 – 6th April 2018
Single-Use Bags Issued 3,876,495 bags 1,507,283 bags
Number of Bags for Life Sold 11,132,476 bags 11,712,705 bags
Single-Use Bag Income (Gross Proceeds) £193,824.75 £76,276.95
Deductions £0.00 £0.00
Net Proceeds (with VAT deducted) £161,520.63 £63,564.13
Total Amount Donated to Good Causes £161,520.63 £63,564.13
Details of Charitable Good Causes Debenhams Foundation – Charity Debenhams Foundation – Charity


Welsh Carrier Bag Data

  7th April 2016 – 6th April 2017* 7th of April 2017 – 6th April 2018
Single-Use Bags Issued 3,876,495 bags 165,018 bags
Number of Bags for Life Sold 11,132,476 bags 681,974 bags
Single-Use Bag Income (Gross Proceeds) £193,824.75 £8,325.45
Deductions £0.00 £0.00
Net Proceeds (with VAT deducted) £161,520.63 £6,937.88
Total Amount Donated to Good Causes £161,520.63 £6,937.88
Details of Charitable Good Causes Charities including those within the Debenhams Foundation and others. Charities including those within the Debenhams Foundation and others.

*Due to system limitations, figures could not be split per location between 7th April 2016 – 6th April 2017. Systems were subsequently updated the following year.


We aim to continue the work around responsible sourcing and consumption through:

We’re proud to announce that on 1st August 2019 we became a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). BCI the is largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. Their objective is to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. By 2020, BCI aim to support 5 million cotton farmers to improve their livelihoods by adopting sustainable agricultural practices.

We are committed to sourcing 100% of our cotton as ‘more sustainable’ by 2023. ‘More sustainable cotton’ includes better cotton, organic or recycled cotton’. 

Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance.

For more information visit