One of the most well-known budget departmental stores in Australia is Kmart, which is owned by Wesfarmers. 

While there’s no doubt that Kmart is a fast and quick stop for apparel, accessories and footwear, we have to wonder if affordability and accessibility take precedence over ethical considerations. 

As ethical consumers, it is our right to research a company’s policies toward the environment and its people before making any purchases.

Kmart Group has an obligation to utilize resources answerable and obtain resources in such a manner that limits environmental influence as a major vendor of goods that utilize naturally occurring resources in several parts of the manufacture process.

Where do they get their clothes?

In its completed product factories for own-brand clothing, Kmart does not utilize any cross-border migrant or contract labor. 

Nevertheless, they do have a small number of general goods manufacturers in Thailand and Malaysia that do use some migrant labor.

 Kmart states that the brand does not control or manage these factories, and that the information in reports was obtained from our partners and other parties.

You can read more here: Kmart Factory List 

Is it ethical?

Kmart Group reduced its energy use per square meter of its gross retail area by 26.5% in the year 2021 compared to the previous year. 

Constant energy monitoring and event mitigation helped to keep the decrease in energy consumption in place. The second quarter of the year’s milder weather also helped to drive down overall energy use. 

In order to meet Kmart Group sustainability goals, the company will concentrate its efforts throughout the course of the upcoming year on developing plans to finish energy-efficiency projects including LED lighting and implement renewable energy procurement.

You can read more about their energy related initiatives here: Kmart Group Energy Centre  

With regard to more general initiatives to combat climate change, Kmart Group has, in the past, established strict goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in owned and managed activities by 2030. 

The development of a playbook that defines the course for managing greenhouse gas release in the supply chains of the Kmart Group until 2030 has been a focus of this year.

An multi-functional Climate Action Working Group was set up as one of the initial measures to address emissions. 

This was done in order to develop team members’ capacities, knowledge, and involvement as well as to support projects linked to climate change throughout the Group. 

For the first time, all material types of emissions are now included in Kmart Group’s inventory reporting.

To guarantee product integrity and lower danger to water systems, it’s critical to minimise water use and restrict production-related chemicals including dyes, colorants, and solvents. 

Given the extensive utilization of water in the rinsing and dyeing procedures of textile factories and laundries, managing this threat is especially important in the manufacture of garment and clothing items.

To reduce its effects on water, Kmart Group has pledged to two time-bound goals. 

The company has signed with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) organizations to encourage the implementation of these agreements with suppliers.

The Kmart Group will continue to collaborate actively with its selected partners on ZDHC adherence in the coming year. 

It will also work with wet production plants to establish baselines for water usage and establish improvement goals.

Across the year, Kmart and Target managed to carry out their commitments to use sustainable materials, focusing on the ethical procurement of important materials like cotton, polyester, cellulose, and wood.

Kmart achieved a critical milestone in July 2020 when it fulfilled its promise to sourcing all of its cotton sustainably. 

As a result, starting on July 1, 2020, all cotton used to make Kmart’s self-brand clothes, bedding, and towels must be Better Cotton, organic, or recycled.

Nevertheless, in spite of all, Kmart’s environmental grade is insufficient. 

There is no proof that it cuts greenhouse gas emissions in its production process, despite the fact that it employs certain environmentally friendly products, especially recycled materials, which is a solid starting step. 

There is no proof that it is on track to accomplish its goal of getting rid of dangerous chemicals by 2025, despite having set that deadline. 

Additionally, there is no proof that it reduces textile waste when producing its goods. 

As none of its supply chains are certified by labor standards that guarantee safety and health of workers, livable wages, or other labor rights, Kmart obtained a score of 51–60% on the Fashion Transparency Index. 

It appears to be making an effort to be more open, publishing details about its provider policies, audits, and remedial procedures in addition to a list of vendors who are involved in the last stages of manufacturing. 

Additionally, it can be disseminating scant information about gender equality, forced labor, or free speech. 

And unlike many other major brands, it does make public some of the measures it has in place to safeguard its supply chain’s vendors and employees. 

Unfortunately, there is no proof that it guarantees the crucial payment of a proper salary in its supply chain.

Kmart does not use fur, angora, or imported animal hides, but it does use wool, leather, and unique animal fibers, albeit in very small amounts. 

It also has a written animal welfare policy that is in line with the Five Freedoms and some explicit procedures to enforce. 

Additionally, there is no proof that any animal products were used, not even in the earliest stages of manufacture.

Kmart’s policies still have space to grow in terms of ambition and scope, especially when it comes to expanding them outside their own operations and more toward the supplier chain.

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