Avery Dennison tackles apparel supply chain sustainability

The Senior Director of Sustainability and Compliance for Apparel at Avery Dennison Debbie Shakespeare delves into apparel supply chain sustainability

The fashion industry is plagued by ethical issues and waste that cannot simply be eliminated by paying more for a product. Although more consumers are drawn to items that are more sustainable—providing they meet requirements in terms of quality—companies must get a look into their supply chains to tackle the historical problems. 

Debbie Shakespeare is the Senior Director of Sustainability and Compliance, Apparel Solutions at Avery Dennison, and an expert in apparel supply chain management and sustainability strategy. She has been driving meaningful and impactful results within the Apparel Solutions division of Avery Dennison for the past decade. 

Shakespeare ensures Avery Dennison is on track to deliver on its 2030 goals, meeting all the appropriate environmental and social sustainability standards. During her time with Avery Dennison, Shakespeare has established a procurement organisation within Hong Kong and China. This included capacity-building and integration of Avery Dennison’s supply chain requirements for sustainability and compliance.

A critical part of Shakespeare’s current role is around ensuring Avery Dennison is on track to deliver on its short and long-term ambitious carbon commitments, and Shakespeare was a key business leader in developing these commitments, and gaining SBTi accreditation for the targets. Shakespeare serves as a key sustainability spokesperson for Avery Dennison and has spoken at COP and the United Nations. Originally from the UK, she currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts.

Debbie Shakespeare, senior director of sustainability and compliance, Apparel Solutions, Avery Dennison

What is the relationship between sustainability and digital currently?

Fashion sustainability and digital technology are tightly intertwined. Digital platforms and tools are driving sustainability in the fashion industry through various ways. 

Perhaps most importantly, technology has gifted the fashion world with supply chain transparency. Digital solutions like blockchain and cloud data platforms enable brands to track and share supplier data - from the raw materials used, to the working conditions in factories. Thanks to transparency, ethical sourcing and production become possible. 

Eco-labelling laws are fast approaching, so solutions such as digital triggers in clothes and Digital Product Passports (DPPs) are likely to become the norm within the next decade. DPPs will be the key to the circular economy, helping consumers extend the life of garments, and ensuring end-of-life recycling is carried out correctly.

What is your opinion on legislation vs company responsibility and ownership of the climate crisis and sustainability strategy?

Fashion retailers are now aware that legislative change is coming, so not taking responsibility will lead to fines, which will drive up prices for shoppers. Few fashion brands want to go down that route. Also, the majority want to match the mood of their target audiences, and are investing in sustainability and circularity to protect their brand image, move with the times, and meet ESG goals. 

There’s no denying that the costs of becoming greener lead to higher price tags on garments. Well-heeled shoppers can afford to pay a premium for sustainable fashion, and so luxury brands are able to lead the way. However, fast fashion retailers have more of a dilemma, and for this reason have been slower to evolve their sourcing and manufacturing practices. Over time with the right level of investment and consumer education, economies of scale will make the business case for sustainable garments more palatable. We need industrial-scale textile recycling to take off, so that recycled fabrics become affordable to all.

How can companies like Avery Dennison address the challenge of growth and decarbonisation?

As a global manufacturer, supplying garment labels and embellishments to the fashion sector, we are adopting sustainable materials and production processes, with the aim of continuing to grow profits, but reducing our carbon impact at the same time. Our carbon reduction targets are SBTi accredited.

Specifically, we are switching to recycled fabrics where we can, and are implementing efficient manufacturing methods, such as 3D sampling and on-demand production. Data analytics informs our forecasting and minimises waste and energy consumption. By investing in renewable energy sources at our facilities around the world, and optimising supply chain logistics, we can further reduce emissions. 

Perhaps most importantly we are embracing circular economy principles, and helping hundreds of fashion brands do the same using our Digital ID and smart labelling technology. We also invest in textile recycling start-ups such as Circ, and take part in collaborative industry projects such as TEXAID, which are seeking practical solutions to the carbon challenge fashion faces.
Is circularity the solution to sustainability?

Yes, adopting a circular economy is widely accepted as the only way to achieve fashion sustainability. Circular fashion aims to create a closed-loop system where garments are designed for longevity, repairability, and recyclability. It promotes practices like repair, upcycling, recycling, and resale. By extending the lifespan of garments and minimising waste, circularity significantly reduces the fashion industry's environmental impact. 

It also aligns with consumer preferences for eco-friendly choices. In a world increasingly concerned with cutting carbon, circular fashion represents a viable and necessary path forward to address the industry's sustainability challenges.


For more insights into Sustainability - check out the latest edition of Sustainability Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter

Other magazines that may be of interest - EV Magazine | Energy Digital


Net Zero LIVE will be hosted live from the QEII Centre, London on the 6th and 7th of March, and streamed globally via our virtual event platform Brella. Net Zero LIVE London will feature four LIVE themes, incorporating Sustainability LIVE, EV LIVE, Scope 3 LIVE, and Energy LIVE to deliver a holistic conference and exhibition experience with opportunities to connect with like-minded peers and actively contribute to crafting a sustainable future. Following Net Zero LIVE, viewers can also sign up for Sustainability LIVE Dubai and Singapore. 

Sign up to the The Global Sustainability & ESG Awards 2024, coming to London on the 11th September 2024. 


BizClik is a global provider of B2B digital media platforms that cover 'Executive Communities' for CEO's, CFO's, CMO's, Sustainability Leaders, Procurement & Supply Chain Leaders, Technology & AI Leaders, Cyber Leaders, FinTech & InsurTech Leaders as well as covering industries such as Manufacturing, Mining, Energy, EV, Construction, Healthcare + Food & Drink.

BizClik, based in London, Dubai & New York offers services such as Content Creation, Advertising & Sponsorship Solutions, Webinars & Events. 


Featured Articles

Why ESG Executives must Attend Sustainability LIVE Net Zero

Sustainability & ESG executives have the opportunity to hear the world’s best sustainability leaders as they present and discuss the future of net zero

Sustainability LIVE Net Zero Speakers: Tech and Mobility

New speakers join the lineup as Sustainability LIVE Net Zero recruits leaders to discuss technology, mobility, and carbon reduction through innovation

COMING SOON: Top 100 Women in Sustainability 2024

This March in honour of International Women’s Day, Sustainability Magazine will release its annual Top 100 Women supplement

Sustainability LIVE Net Zero: Conservation and Travel

Net Zero

Capgemini Sponsors Sustainability LIVE Net Zero Conference

Net Zero

Sustainability LIVE Net Zero: Decarbonised Future with AI

Net Zero