JBC is a Belgian clothing company founded by Jean-Baptiste Claes in 1975. Some time ago, he passed his business on to his children, Bart, and Ann Claes. Currently, they lead the company and hold the majority of the shares. This makes JBC a trustworthy family business.
They strive to be sustainable by taking several initiatives for the planet while maintaining their love for fashion. The mission of JBC states: “We are also committed to offering sustainable clothing with respect for people and the environment.."
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries, a lot of energy and water are needed during the production of clothes. This means that it is a challenge for clothing companies to be sustainable. Nevertheless, JBC has been concerned with sustainability for several years. As of right now, they comply with most of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
For this story, our primary focus is JBC’s #GoGreen label. With this label, JBC shows which clothes contain sustainable or recycled materials. This innovation impacts the following SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land. What impact the innovation has on these SDGs will be discussed later.
In 2015, the UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At its core are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 urgently calling all countries to action.
For JBC, sustainability is a complex universe. They believe that every single person can make a difference; for this reason, as a company, they use 16 out of 17 SDGs as guidance to do their part in making the world a better place. Of course, all goals are equally important, but some SDGs that JBC has more impact on than others.
What is most important for JBC is to find a balance between fashion and sustainability. Ann Claes, JBC’s CBO, says: "A sustainable supply chain is an ongoing process that demands transparency and an innovative approach to our whole long-term business. Therefore, our commitment to it affects decision-making at our buying department and other levels in our organizations.” A few years ago, JBC launched the #GoGreen label. For this label, the clothing company has developed an eco-score for the materials of the garments and created different categories. If an article contains 50% green textiles, the product will be considered #GoGreen and receive a sustainability stamp. By 2030, JBC wants their entire baby collection to be at least 50% organic; now, the new I AM collection is made with natural fibers such as organic cotton, linen, and EcoVero viscose. With this innovative project, their goal is to reach completely sustainable garments.
This innovation is JBC’s way of focusing on more specific SDGs, such as Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 13: Climate action, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land.
Indeed, the fabric is not the only factor impacting the environment and the people. A significant factor is the production process of the prime material. Some critical questions that arise during this process are: do the raw materials need a lot of water, energy, or chemicals to become textiles? Can the fabrics be recycled after being used? Are the garments going to be of sufficient quality to be used by the customers for a long time? The significant aspect of this new label is that with using sustainable and recycled materials comes less pollution. Less energy and water are required, there is no need to extract raw materials, and the amount of waste is reduced.
For Bart Claes, CEO of JBC, there are four different aspects to be considered sustainable. First, there is the human aspect, where the workers in the production have to be treated and paid correctly. Then, there is the energy aspect, where the consumption must be as low as possible to keep the ecological footprint low. Thirdly, the use of materials that are as sustainable and ecological as possible. And finally, the innovative aspect of the serial, where the whole business model is built around being sustainable and innovative. By introducing these four aspects, Bart creates an environment with inspiring standards that can motivate the company. It can also be used as a foundation for a plan to strive in the longer term to become a much more sustainable business than they already are.
With the #GoGreen label, they are trying to fill in the third aspect by using organic cotton and other sustainable alternatives instead of the usual raw materials used in clothing. This way, they are making their contribution to a more sustainable future. However, in the interview, Bart Claes says that this is a prolonged process and that all competitors will have to jump on this bandwagon. In his view, there are still too few clear agreements on sustainable clothing, and there is often talk of greenwashing. The consumer also has to stay informed and understand what all the labels want to say, without which it isn't easy to remain competitive. JBC, therefore, focuses heavily on creating awareness for this.
By working with sustainable materials in clothing collections, developing garments made from recycled materials, and using post-consumer waste fibers in garments, JBC has managed to have a positive impact on the SDGs as mentioned earlier: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land.
Currently, people produce and consume without adequately considering the impact on the planet's natural resources. On July 29, humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in 2021 was more significant than what the earth could regenerate this year. As a result, we are not only depleting the earth but also increasing the amount of waste. Ecological accountability is necessary to reduce the negative impacts on the environment (SDG 12). With the #GoGreen campaign, JBC reduces the amount of waste by giving new life to old garments, which are discarded by end-users, by reusing the waste fibers in new garments.
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities weigh on climate change. Currently, emissions are 50% higher than in 1990. Climate change will lead to rising temperatures and more extreme weather conditions. Because the climate is currently changing so rapidly, animals and plants will not adapt quickly enough. The dangerous chemicals in polluted air can also cause health problems in humans. To control climate change and its effects, the goal is to work toward an economy with low emissions (SDG 13) and limited health issues (SDG 3). The #GoGreen label addresses the problem of emissions by developing clothing made from reused and recycled textiles. Using reused and recycled textiles have led to savings in water, energy, and chemicals, of which carbon dioxide is the most important. The maximum potential of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is 70% for reuse and around 37% for recycling. Reuse relates to the end product while recycling only relates to the raw materials of the clothing.
Finally, the #GoGreen campaign attracts employees who care about sustainability. Two-thirds of applicants say they want to work at JBC because of the sustainability aspect. As a result, JBC's workforce consists only of people who give importance to sustainability.
Step by step, JBC is making its products more sustainable. The introduction of the #GoGreen label helped them a lot and resulted in some good events. Opting for a more sustainable policy will provide you with a competitive advantage. However, it will not immediately translate into excellent results when launching such a label. Competitors who are less concerned with sustainability can ask for a lower price for their products. You must be aware that the citizen is sustainable. Still, when the citizen becomes a consumer and has to spend money, the price is sometimes more important than sustainability. So it is a big challenge to convince the consumers. But at some point, the tables will turn in your favor. Sustainability is becoming a higher priority for more and more consumers, and the demand for sustainably produced fashion increases enormously. This shows that sustainable entrepreneurship is not a cost but an investment.
However, as a consumer, it remains challenging to determine how sustainable a company is. This is where the importance of such a #GoGreen label comes in. It makes it a lot easier for a company to distinguish itself from other, less sustainable companies for the public. The #GoGreen label helps show that they live by similar environmental and social principles as their customers. We determined that a sustainable mindset can be a motivation to apply for a job at a company. As a result, you create a progressive team that encourages each other to go through life even more sustainable way.
In their mission statement, JBC expresses that they care particularly about being respectful to people and the planet. As already mentioned, JBC is always trying to balance the love for fashion, our planet, and the people. That is exactly what they tried to do with their #GoGreen label, and I AM collection.
JBC’s use of fabrics focuses on ethical sustainability, which means that in every layer in the productions process, sustainability is vital. One of the sustainable materials they use is organic cotton. Organic cotton is made without pesticides, which is beneficial to the health of farmers and the prosperity of our planet. JBC also works with Lyocell and Eco-Vero. These are sustainable alternatives made out of the wood pulp, with the additional benefit of reducing energy and water consumption. On top of that, JBC is exploring various recycled materials, such as recycled PET and post-consumer waste denim. The use of these materials has a multitude of benefits. One of the benefits is that the production of recycled materials requires no new raw material to be extracted, resulting in less energy. Simultaneously, JBC is reducing the amount of waste by reusing clothes.
Creating a sustainable collection is a dynamic process including re-evaluations and adjustments where necessary, with more remarkable improvement. JBC is looking to expand this trend even further, and by 2025 they strictly want to go for collections made out of 100% sustainable materials. They are setting the tone for all the other company’s in the sector, inspiring them to be innovative and jump on the sustainability train, following JBC’s lead.
Bart Claes, CEO
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Business Website: https://www.jbc.be
Year Founded: 1975
Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000
JBC is a Belgian clothing company founded by Jean-Baptiste Claes in 1975. Some time ago, he passed his business on to his children, Bart, and Ann Claes. Currently, they lead the company and hold the majority of the shares. This makes JBC a trustworthy family business. They strive to be sustainable by taking several initiatives for the planet while maintaining their love for fashion. The mission of JBC states: “We are also committed to offering sustainable clothing with respect for people and the environment…”.
JBC launched their first store in Belgium, and right now, they also have stores in Germany and Luxembourg. In 2018, JBC was the first Belgian clothing company that launches a collection from recycled materials. This makes them unique compared to other Belgian brands. Over the years, they have developed this into the #GoGreen label. For the upcoming holidays of 2021, JBC decided to change the well-known ‘Black Friday’ into ‘Go Green Friday’. The purpose of this concept is that people can bring their old clothes to one of the JBC stores.