In very few cases do we currently have concrete data on quantities, types of waste and disposal methods. We are working on obtaining more data, for example, by using the HIGG Facility Environmental Management Tool zu erhalten. Through our supplier management and vendor clubs, we are trying to gain greater insight into the waste situation in our supply chain and raise awareness of this issue among suppliers.
Material efficiency plays a vital role for sustainability in our supply chain. After all, any material that does not become a part of the product itself can end up in a landfill and go to waste. One method we use to avoid this is to maximize efficiency when cutting fabric pieces based on the width of the material, and we work closely with our producers to continuously improve this type of material efficiency.
In addition to the textile waste generated during the manufacturing process of the fabrics and the products themselves, the cleaning and filtration of wastewater after production results in sludge. All chemical substances from the production process are filtered out of the wastewater and remain in the resulting sludge as solid or semi-solids residues. If there are substances in the wastewater that are not M/RSL compliant, these also end up in the sludge. This must then be disposed of as hazardous waste. However, we are currently lacking transparency in the supply chain to ensure that this sludge is disposed of properly.
In recent years, our wastewater tests have shown that our very strict limits have also been met for the sludge that’s produced, so this sludge can be reused (to construct roads, for example) and does not have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. In Taiwan, where the majority of our materials are produced, the disposal system is similar to Germany’s. Here we are currently still trying to obtain further transparency on all types of waste.
The production of napped materials such as fleece creates microplastics – tiny particles of plastic that end up in the air or even in wastewater. This poses a major problem for the environment, and also for the entire textile industry. To date, the awareness of this is low among brands and suppliers, and filter systems are not standard. VAUDE is working in a research alliance with other companies to help find a solution to this problem. Read more here.
Currently, hopeful new projects are emerging in our countries of production designed to reduce waste in the production process and create circulatory systems. This will involve bringing key stakeholders, such as manufacturers and recyclers, to the table to jointly develop solutions for greater transparency and less waste. It also includes raising awareness and knowledge among suppliers. VAUDE is also committed to information exchange and initiatives with other companies on the issue of waste. There will be more information on this in our next sustainability report.