Sustainability at CWS Workwear

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20 September 2022 Workwear
Portrait Hartmut Engler_EN

Transparency at all levels aids sustainability

At CWS Workwear, we set great store by the service cycle: clothing is offered in the service model, collected by CWS, washed, repaired if necessary and then delivered back to the company. Alongside this service cycle, the focus is also on environmentally aware decisions when selecting materials and the transparency of the supply chain, including in the area of social standards. An interview with Hartmut Engler, Chief Divisional Officer CWS Workwear.


CWS Workwear

Everything from a single source: the best possible protection, the best possible clothing and the best possible service. CWS Workwear offers sustainably produced and certified workwear and protective clothing which impresses with its comfort and durability. As part of the service cycle, repairs are performed to extend the lifespan of the clothing. The certified and disinfecting washing processes ensure the company delivers clean and hygienically maintained clothing complying with all safety regulations at all times.

What does sustainability mean for CWS Workwear?

Our business model is sustainable per se: as a producer and service provider, it is of the utmost importance to us that the attire be produced from high-quality materials and thus long-lasting. We have a vested interest in that from both an economic and ecological perspective. For this reason, we also have an in-house Quality department which strives day in, day out to optimise the textiles and find the perfect thread as well as the most resource-saving processing and recycling methods. Our customers do not purchase workwear, but rather our service making it available to them in perfect condition. For us, sustainability also means that we know where our raw materials come from. In the textile industry, the traceability of the supply chain is important. We want and need to know that cotton plantations are already managed in a socially responsible way and the environment is treated with care and consideration. To this end, we set great store by cooperations, such as fairly traded, certified raw materials or the cooperation with Fairtrade.

How is a sustainable portfolio managed? What goals are pursued?

In our Quality department, headed by Melanie Deppe, we analyse the characteristics of our textiles and the use of different materials. More sustainable materials are great, but safety and protection guidelines mean they cannot always be employed everywhere. For this reason, durability, reusability and recyclability are essential elements of our product management and should be brought together in a product if possible. Here, we are already employing sustainable materials such as viscose and recycled polyester.

How is sustainability coupled with economic success? What makes the business enkelfähig?

We have already evaluated a good share of our core range on the basis of our in-house enkelfähig rating. As we aim to achieve around 90% of our new business across the Group via sustainable products by 2025, it is important for our sales process.

In addition, we also listen to our customers: the demand for sustainable materials and the desire for the traceability of social standards at all stages of the supply chain have increased. We produce all of our standard collections using Fairtrade cotton and are thus not only a pioneer in our market but also consistently working towards achieving our goals.

When we speak about decarbonisation and the reduction of emissions, what measures are being taken?

Last year, we conducted our Circular Advantage Study and discovered that our service can result in up to 50% CO2 savings compared with the classic purchase model – and that already takes our service and the associated emissions into consideration. We’re not resting on our laurels after learning that though, but rather minimising the energy consumption and emissions in our laundries, optimising service routes and reducing CO2 emissions wherever possible.

When we speak about customers and their requirements, what points are relevant?

We are proud of our customer-friendly business model: get exactly what you want and how you want it.

We have the perfect solution for every requirement. Building on basic services in the form of collection, cleaning, repair, maintenance and delivery including customer services, there are a wide range of additional services that can be combined into a customised service package. That was a big request from our customers, which we met with corresponding offers. From an ecological perspective, precise information regarding emissions is being requested more often.

What are the next steps planned?

We will continue to modernise our laundries and press ahead actively with the reduction of emissions. Service routes and loads have been optimised and we are changing our fleet over to electric vehicles. We are working intensely on the closing of produce life cycles as well as on the use of already available resources and materials. As you can see, we are now and will remain active where sustainability is concerned.

Thank you for the interview!


CWS Workwear supports the Sustainable Development Goals of "Responsible Consumption and Production", "Climate Action" and "Partnerships for the Goals".

Enkelfähig – tomorrow now

Here at CWS, we adopt an enkelfähig approach. As part of our parent company Haniel’s enkelfähig initiative, we contribute to a healthier and safer tomorrow with our circular business model. 

At CWS, we integrate the enkelfähig concept into our overarching sustainability strategy Think Circular and create value for generations by coupling economic success and value-based action. For us, sustainability and profitability go hand in hand. We work in a way that is generation-friendly and thus enkelfähig.

For a healthier and safer tomorrow. Starting today.