Muji has announced the development of an eco-friendly natural-dye plant in Cambodia as part of its commitment to the Business Call to Action, a global initiative to “accelerate progress” towards the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals through sustainable business models. The Japanese clothing and lifestyle brand, known for its minimalist yet design-conscious wares, says it has committed to a 2,150-square-foot facility that will employ more than 300 local people by 2015. Muji is also planning to plant indigo—a flowering plant harvested for its dark-blue dye—around the premises, which it says could generate another 50 jobs, along with a potential new line of indigo-dyed products.
“BCtA is delighted to engage with Muji given [its] unique brand commitment to problem solving through designs, focusing on materials and simple packaging,” says Sahba Sobhani, acting programme manager at Business Call to Action, in a release. “The fact that [it is] investing in least developed countries by employing local people, as well as sourcing from artisans from conflict affected regions is certainly part of what makes this commitment so unique and meaningful.”
The Cambodian plant is part of a larger initiative by the retailer to source artisanal products from local producers in the developing world.
The Cambodian plant is part of a larger initiative by the retailer to source artisanal products from local producers in the developing world, particularly women from post-conflict or transitional societies. With the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the One Village One Product Project, Muji says it will continue to acquire soapstone products from Kenya and wool-felt products from Kyrgyzstan, as well as provide skill-development seminars on how to manage supply chains, maintain high-quality standards, and monitor sales trends in the international market.
“Through these activities, in Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, products are produced every year to international quality and design standards; in this way we are contributing to the improvement of the skills of local producers, particularly women, and an increase of cash income,” says a spokesman for Ryohin Keikaku, Muji’s parent firm. “Our initiatives are expected to continue making a contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of local people.”
Muji previously pledged to buy organic cotton from suppliers that engage in sustainable practices, including small-scale farmers in Tanzania, Egypt, and India. It’s also a frequent promoter of eco-friendly materials such as reused cotton and felt derived from recycled plastic bottles.