New common framework leads the way to responsible purchasing practices in garments and textile sector

A group of multi-stakeholder initiatives, including the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile, has drafted a common framework for responsible purchasing practices. These are essential to achieve improvements in working conditions in supply chains in the garments and textile sector.

Bangladeshi garment workers work in a factory in Ashulia, Dhaka, Bangladesh © Shutterstock

The ‘Common Framework for Responsible Purchasing Practices’ integrates existing frameworks and documents of multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) and NGOs on responsible purchasing practices and is built on five principles:

  • responsible purchasing practices are integrated into the commercial and other relevant departments of a business
  • purchasing companies and their suppliers respect each other as equal business partners
  • critical path and production planning is done collaboratively between the purchasing companies and suppliers
  • purchasing companies and suppliers agree on fair and transparent payment terms
  •  the purchasing company’s costing levels and procedures support wage increases and sustainable production.

In the next few years, a working group will seek feedback to refine the framework as part of stakeholder consultations and also support companies (members of the MSIs involved) to make progress in implementing the framework as part of a ‘purchasing practices
incubator’ by learning from experts and each other, sharing tools, training and guidance, as well as giving feedback to refine the framework. The Steering Group of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) considers purchasing practices a very important theme. Therefore it is part of AGT’s annual assessment of participating companies, who are supported with tools and training on this topic.

Reference point

The framework will be a reference point for companies wanting to improve their purchasing practices, and for MSIs wanting to support their member companies to implement practical improvements in purchasing. The OECD ‘Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector’ explicitly calls upon companies to adopt responsible purchasing practices. The COVID-19 crisis has magnified how crucial responsible purchasing practices are to ensuring worker rights are protected.

Working together for alignment

The AGT is part of a broad group of organizations who drafted the framework, including the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Ethical Trade Norway, Better Buying Institute, Fair Wear and the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST). This working group also consulted with Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT) and amfori and builds on recommendations by the ‘Manufacturers’ Payment and Delivery Terms Initiative’, which was started by the International Apparel Federation and the STAR Network (Sustainable Textile of the Asian Region), supported by GIZ FABRIC.

The framework has been recently presented at a ‘the Industry We Want’ meeting which was attended by 300 international professionals from the garments and textile sector. At the meeting the importance of this topic was emphasized, as well as the substance of this framework and the importance of collaboration.