Sustainable materials

Nachhaltige Materialien
Nachhaltige Materialien

The Otto Group pursues the long-term goal of using sustainable materials in all products.

Wherever possible, we evaluate materials on a data basis according to their impact on the environment throughout the entire life cycle: from raw material extraction, production processes, material consumption and shipping to use and disposal by customers. According to our materiality analysis, we can achieve the greatest impact with regard to textile fibers, wooden furniture, catalog paper and packaging.

Sustainable materials as the basis for change

Choosing more sustainable and healthy materials is an important component for fully recyclable products. That is why we are working to switch more and more materials to sustainable alternatives in all our products. In textiles, we are focusing on “preferred fibers”, so fibers with a reduced negative impact on the environment compared to conventional alternatives. Our aim is to increase this share in our own and licensed brands to 65 percent by 2025. This also includes the use of 100 percent sustainable cotton. By 2025, we aim to use only FSC-certified wood in our own and licensed brands of furniture. We intend to use 100 percent FSC-certified or EU Ecolabel paper in our catalogs by 2025 and switch completely to sustainable packaging for shipments with a recycled content of at least 80 percent by 2023.


In the area of textiles, we are focusing on "preferred fibers," i.e. fibers that have a lower negative impact on the environment compared with conventional alternatives. For example, we aim to increase the use of fibers from controlled organic cultivation, recycled or innovative fibers, and animal fibers for which particular attention is paid to animal welfare. By 2025, we aim to increase the share of "Preferred Fibers" in our own and licensed brands to 65 percent. In 2021, the share was 53 percent, well above our target of 48 percent.

  • Sustainable cotton: In the textile ranges of the Otto Group's own and licensed brands, the fiber cotton still clearly dominates over polyester and viscose. The proportion of sustainable cotton, which includes organic cotton, recycled cotton and cotton from the Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) initiative, is currently 95 percent. We have thus almost achieved our goal of using 100 percent sustainable cotton. By using CmiA cotton, we help to reduce CO₂ emissions and save fresh water, among other things.
  • Leather made from fungal cultures:​​​​​​​ In search of innovative sustainable materials, we also test unconventional options. Artificial leather is usually made from synthetic materials derived from fossil resources. It therefore offers advantages over leather from an ethical but not an ecological point of view. Bonprix is therefore testing leather alternatives made from fungal cultures together with a start-up supported by Fashion for Good.
  • Animal fibers and materials: Since 1988, the Otto Group has banned the furs of endangered species or species that are not kept in a manner appropriate to the species, such as mink, marten and sable. In 1991, real fur was generally banned from our range. There are strict guidelines for the sale of leather and wool products, as well as goods with down: From 2024, only leather and fur as a by-product of food production from the following domesticated animal species will be permitted: Cattle, Buffalo, Pig, Goat, Sheep and Yak. We reject products containing mohair or angora, as well as products from live plucking and foie gras production. In addition, the use of mulesing practices on sheep is not permitted. All requirements in detail and our principles on animal welfare and species protection are set out in the Animal Welfare Policy, which is part of the Business Partner Declaration.

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Wooden furniture

Forests are the green lung of our planet, which is why we do everything we can to protect them. With the help of our furniture strategy, we were already able to use 78 percent FSC®-certified wood in our own and licensed brands of furniture and in the materials obtained from strategically relevant suppliers in 2021, thus sourcing wood from responsible forestry. By 2025, we aim to use only FSC-certified wood. The FSC logo stands for strict standards for ecologically responsible forest management.

As the supply and availability of FSC materials sourced in the region currently make it difficult to achieve the target, the Otto Group is examining how we can actively involve ourselves in increasing the FSC-certified forest area in Germany and what credible alternatives there are to stick to our responsible procurement strategy with a focus on regional value creation.

The biggest challenge is the limited availability of FSC-certified wood in Germany, due to the small FSC-certified forest area in this country. Accordingly, full achievement of our target is only possible if the availability of FSC wood is expanded, if we find new raw material facilities or if alternative materials can be used. An innovative solution that is currently being tested could emerge from toMOORow, the peatland rewetting project, which we launched in the Otto Group in 2021. According to this, it may be possible to use the biomass from the peatlands to produce wood-like materials.

Catalog paper

In 2021, we could already use 77 percent sustainable catalog paper throughout the Otto Group. Individual Group companies (e.g. Crate and Barrel, Freemans Grattan or Venus) even use 100 percent sustainable FSC® paper today. Other Group companies, such as OTTO, plan to gradually increase the amount of FSC® catalog paper as well as catalog paper with the EU Ecolabel to 100 percent by 2025, which corresponds to the target of the entire Group.


The Otto Group pursues a packaging strategy based on the four pillars of avoidance, reduction, substitution and recycling. Particular focus is placed on the efficient use and reduction of packaging volume as well as the use of more climate-friendly materials. Our measures apply to all our self-purchased shipping packaging (e.g. cartons, shipping bags, etc.) and filling materials (e.g. bubble wrap, etc.). For us, sustainable packaging consists of at least 80 percent recycled material, both for shipping packaging and for filling materials. In the case of plastic packaging, the recycled content must be "post-consumer," i.e., it must come from recycled plastic that has already been used. In 2021, the proportion of sustainable packaging was 71 percent.

  • Innovative biodegradable plastic alternative: In collaboration with the Hamburg-based start-up Traceless, OTTO wants to make its shipping bags even more sustainable. In this pilot project, packaging pouches and bags are made from a new type of plastic substitute that is based entirely on natural raw materials, can be composted, and is fully biodegradable within two to nine weeks.
  • Shipping bags made from "wild plastic": With the aim of ridding the environment of plastics, OTTO and the Hamburg-based start-up Wildplastic developed a shipping bag made from collected plastic in 2021. By the end of 2022, half of all OTTO shipping bags are to be converted to Wildplastic. The principle: Wild plastic is collected at places that do not have their own recycling structure, such as Haiti, Nigeria or India. After collection, the plastic is sorted, cleaned and processed into granulate for the production of shipping bags. This helps the environment and the local people. The collectors receive fair and regular wages for their work.
  • Reusable shipping bag "RePack“: The Otto Group and OTTO, together with Tchibo and Avocadostore, took part in a research project on reusable packaging in the mail order business funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The test was carried out in the summer of 2020 with around 5,000 OTTO customers. The principle: The RePack reusable shipping bag is returned to the sender after use, then reprocessed, disinfected and cleaned, and is finally ready for the next order. In total, the packaging can be reused up to 20 times and therefore saves up to 80 percent CO2 and 96 percent waste volume compared to conventional shipping packaging. However, the pilot also revealed challenges: On a smaller scale, its use can be made possible in principle. But before it can be rolled out across the board or even across the industry, the considerable additional logistics expenses in particular need to be considered. The costs of return shipping, cleaning, reprocessing and disinfection should not be underestimated. In addition, thought would have to be given to a uniform deposit and return system to ensure that the packaging is actually returned. Only then will a reusable system work.