All retailers know there is no alternative to well-run, sustainable supply chains. They ensure the long-term supply of the quality products customers demand. Our members know they need to use their influence to reduce the environmental impact of the goods they sell and ensure that the rights of workers producing those goods are respected.

The BRC’s Responsible Sourcing Member Group is working with expert groups to improve the way materials such as palm oil, timber, seafood, cotton, soya and metals are sourced. By developing and using effective, auditable standards the industry can clearly demonstrate how it is using its influence to meet customer’s expectations of progressive, sustainable supply chains. Examples include:


Global fisheries are an important source of food and employment for the world’s population. Over the past four decades, however, overfishing and other unsustainable fishing practices have depleted fish stocks in many parts of the world.

The leading causes of fishery depletion are from vessels operating illegally from unregulated fisheries or failing to report their catch. These actions undermine legitimate fishing operations and disrupt efforts to manage fisheries.

To help conserve stocks and ensure future supplies of seafood, we have worked with the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and wildlife conservation group WWF to publish an Advisory Note for UK retailers and brands buying and selling fishery products to help them prevent illegal fishery products entering their supply chains. This industry-leading guide has been adopted in other countries and is helping businesses across the world to stop illegal fishing.

Beyond tackling illegal fishing, we are working with businesses from across the supply chain to drive demand for responsible and sustainable seafood through the Sustainable Seafood Coalition. We and our members are leading supporters of the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme to deliver high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on fishing vessels. We will continue to work with our stakeholders across the world to drive environmental and social improvements in the seafood industry.



Timber is a vital component of many everyday products, from paper and packaging to furniture and building materials. The clearance of forests causes significant environmental impacts, but responsibly managed forestry can support the sustainable future of forests and provide key sustainable materials.

Many BRC members are working to ensure the timber products they sell are certified to independent sustainability standards. However, they also have to meet European regulations to ensure that the timber has not been illegally harvested.

The BRC’s Timber Working Group of expert members led the way in advising members how they can prepare for the regulation by producing detailed guidance, saving money for members by helping them deal more efficiently with the legislation.

We have also engaged with the European Commission to widen the scope of the timber products covered by the regulation so that it is fair to businesses and effective in tackling illegal logging.


Animal-derived materials such as wool, leather, feather and down are important components of everyday clothes, bedding and furniture. In sourcing these materials, our members demand the highest animal welfare standards.

  • On the back of media reports and NGO campaigns on the treatment of sheep in Australia, we developed a position on the practice of museling and shared this with key stakeholders in the wool supply chain to outline UK retailer expectations on animal welfare.
  • In 2016, concerns were raised on the treatment of geese in the feather and down industry. Whilst these specific cases were not present in member supply chains, we brought members together to agree a common position and identify further actions where we can use our influence to drive positive improvements in animal welfare across the global industry. 
  • Following several investigations into artificial fur used in clothing, fur which was intended to be artificial has been revealed to be real animal fur. Despite best efforts, retailers have now found that some vendors have replaced quality faux fur with cheaply produced real animal fur. This is what led several retailers to unintentionally source real animal fur on the assumption that it was faux fur. In 2018, the BRC produced a voluntary guideline on how to better source artificial / faux fur in order to help retailers mitigate those risks. This is available to view in our downloads section.