Sustainability policy of Coats, the major manufacture of sewing thread in the world, and what they expect of ECOPET®

Coats, which is one of the world’s major three manufactures of sewing thread in the world, is sharing their business in 50 countries from UK, and trying to create a new business like optical fibers and carbon products.

The company is also trying to act passionately for SDGs. They have changed virgin polyester to the recycled polyester, ECOPET®, since 2020.

We interviewed Sonya Manolova, the product director of Coats, about their sustainability policy, the reason why they select ECOPET® and their future perspective.

- What is Coats sustainability policy?

Coats centers it’s sustainability strategy on a materiality assessment of the major sustainability issues facing our business and our principal stakeholders (our people, our customers, our shareholders, the environment, our communities, and our suppliers). We update this assessment every two years and fine tune our strategy based on that. At the moment, we have 5 pillars to our strategy that between them cover all of the top issues that come from the materiality assessment. These pillars are Water, Energy, Effluent, Social and Materials. For each of these pillars we have at least one public target and we have a lot of internal programs and targets that are underway in each pillar. We are participants of the United Nations Global Compact and have a special focus on supporting the delivery of 7 Sustainable Development Goals that are most relevant to our business. We have committed to Science Based Targets for short term emissions reduction and are currently working on our plans to achieve Net Zero by 2050.  Reducing the emissions impact in the raw materials that we use will be a key part in achieving both our short-term emissions targets to 2030 and our longer-term Net Zero target.

- When Coats started to pay attention to environment issues? What was trigger?

Coats has always had a close focus on the environmental issues related to our business. For many years we applied a global effluent standard to our operations that was normally much tighter than local regulatory standards and minimizing our use of scarce resources has always been seen as being good business practice as well as being more sustainable. The increased focus on climate issues and on making our raw materials more sustainable have both been growing for the last 5 or 6 years as the scale of the climate crisis became more apparent and the impact of the textile industry’s growing reliance on virgin oil-based materials became more unsustainable.

- You have sustainability strategy for each areas like water、energy. How is current situation of achievement goals by 2022?

Our sustainability targets for 2022 were always going to be very challenging, and the impact of the pandemic, especially in 2020, meant that a lot of the plans we had were delayed a year.  Nevertheless, by increasing our focus in 2021 we have recovered a lot of that lost ground and are going into 2022 with a high degree of commitment to deliver on all our targets. In the case of two targets, that for energy intensity reduction and Great Place to Work certification we have essentially delivered on our 2022 target a year early. In the case of water intensity reduction, effluent compliance, and waste reduction we still have a lot of work to do in 2022 but we are confident that we will be able to deliver on these. Our target for conversion to recycled polyester is for 2024 and at the end of 2021 we have made good progress with 19% of our premium products being from entirely recycled material.

- When and Why Coats started to use Teijin’s recycled polyester, ECOPET®?

We started to use Teijin Recycled Polyester since Q1 2020. Teijin is our long-term partner for Polyester supply. As Coats is moving toward Recycled Polyester, we asked Teijin to develop Recycled filaments for Coats.

- What is the best part of ECOPET®?

We are happy with ECOPET® quality, performance, and delivery.

- Are there any demands for ECOPET® from employee or customer? How is reputation for ECOPET®?

Teijin‘s recycled filament can meet Coats quality requirement and we will continue to develop more dtex/counts to meet Coats Sustainability Target. Our brand customers are all very committed to converting to recycled materials and it is important that we can accompany them on this journey without compromising product quality.

- What Coats expects on ECOPET for future?

We hope that Teijin can continue innovate and continue to bring new recycled technology to the market. We consider that the next major breath through should be through the chemical recycling of textile waste back into new fibers so that our industry can adopt a circular material model. Coats is committed to using no new oil-based materials by 2030.

Interviewee: Sonya Manolova