Search Report
2022 Sustainability Report
published 2023/08/01

VAUDE Green Shape

Functional, environmentally friendly products made from sustainable materials – now that’s something to get excited about for people who love outdoor activities. For us, Green Shape is an ongoing challenge.

Green Shape – the VAUDE standard for environmentally friendly outdoor products

With our Green Shape Standard, we offer functional, environmentally friendly products made from sustainable materials.

Green Shape is an environmental standard. Social aspects are not directly part of the standard, but as with all other VAUDE products, attention is paid to fair working conditions. You can learn more about our commitment to good working conditions throughout the supply chain here

Our criteria for evaluation are stringent and transparent. They are updated regularly and cover the entire lifecycle of the product from design and production to maintenance, repair and disposal.

We are now at the third revision stage of the standard: Green Shape 3.0. Since the first version of Green Shape was developed in 2010, we have greatly developed the standard.

This film provides a brief, concise overview of Green Shape:

Here we explain just what your Green Shape product is all about and what else we are doing to make the Green Shape Standard even more credible and transparent.

And did you know? Green Shape was put under the microscope by Greenpeace and received good ratings. This provides extra assurance that we’re on the right track with our standard, and that you can rely on Green Shape! You can find the Greenpeace report here.


Aren't there enough eco labels as it is?

Who can understand all these labels anyway…? You might be right. So why does VAUDE have its own label?

In 2009, when we began to steadily steer our product development toward sustainability, awareness for the ecological and social aspects of clothing was only just beginning to develop.

We were approached from all sides with the wish not only to manufacture "better" products because they are more environmentally friendly – they should also be recognizable as such in the store.

We searched high and low, but couldn’t find a quality seal that applied to our product groups and our products (which are primarily made from synthetic fibers), and that could be used internationally.

This is why we developed the VAUDE Green Shape Standard. VAUDE products that meet the Green Shape criteria are awarded the Green Shape Label. Green Shape has been around since 2010, and it has become very well-established in the market. These days, it’s not just recognized by customers our like ourselves; more and more retailers are buying Green Shape products to make their product range more eco-friendly.

That is why we remain convinced that the VAUDE Green Shape Standard makes sense.


Green Shape 3.0: what does it entail?

Green Shape covers the entire product life cycle: its design, materials and production methods, extending a product's useful life by means of maintenance and repair, as well as the product’s end of life (disposal and recycling). Green Shape covers all phases, which is how it differs from other standards previously available in the industry.

Phases of the Green Shape product cycle

Specifically, comprehensive criteria and test evidence has been formulated for each stage of the product lifecycle that must be met in order for a product to meet the Green Shape Standard.

Curious about the exact details? You can have a look at the criteria here (Word to the wise – it's complex!)

We are deliberately being very transparent here and are publishing all criteria, in which we have put a lot of know-how into developing over the years. We have one request. If you want to use the Green Shape concept or parts of it, whether privately or commercially, please always give VAUDE Sport as the originator of the concept and this website as the source. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

To ensure that all Green Shape 3.0 criteria are met, clearly defined verification evidence must be available.

An important part of this evidence is external certification, which we require at three levels:

  1. Raw material selection (percentage of recycled or biobased materials)
  2. Material production (textile wet processes such as dyeing or production of the granulate for non-textile components)
  3. Fabrics and components

Every Green Shape product must consist of a very high proportion of materials that are certified as very environmentally friendly (for clothing, for example, 90% of the materials must be certified), and at the same time, the manufacturer of the material must be environmentally certified. This doubles our safety net, especially with regard to the handling of chemicals in production, but also in terms of particularly resource-intensive manufacturing processes such as dyeing, laminating and finishing.

This is where the most energy and water is used, and the most wastewater and climate-damaging emissions are produced. Every Green Shape product must consist of more than 50% biobased or recycled materials.

Green Shape explicitly excludes the use of particularly critical materials and technologies: PVC, fluorocarbons / PFAS chlorine- and hypochlorite-containing bleaching agents or nanotechnology are absolutely taboo in VAUDE Green Shape products.

We also take resource consumption into account for the use of the product. Every Green Shape product must be easy to maintain and clean in the most energy-efficient way possible, and cannot require dry cleaning.

In addition, the Green Shape criteria include important design choices that virtually no other brand has incorporated into product development to date:

  • Reparability
  • Material efficiency
  • Recyclability

VAUDE Repair Index

Reparability plays an important role in the sustainability of each product. VAUDE already offers a whole bundle of services for our customers with our own Repair Service, a cooperation with iFixit and Repair Cafés so that their product can actually be repaired – read more here

Now we are taking another big step: We have developed a repair index that we can use to continually examine and evaluate the repairability of all VAUDE products right from the start of the design phase and throughout the entire product development phase.

A point system is used to check which options for adjustment are available in the areas of design, material selection and processing technologies in order to increase reparability. Also taken into consideration: whether the repair can be carried out by the general public, with the help of repair cafés for example, or only by specialist companies such as the VAUDE Repair Service. We also look at whether spare parts are available and how much work is required for the repair.

VAUDE product managers and their teams make conscious and documented decisions as to whether these issues have been taken into account for each product. If they haven’t, the reasons for this and the timeframe for implementing improvements must also be documented.

Our goal is finding the best balance between repairability and the many other demands we place on our products - functionality, durability, fit, price, etc. Contradictions and conflicting goals between these demands are not exceptionally rare, for example, wate–rproof zippers have a excellent functionality, but are difficult to repair.

All newly developed products of the Summer Collection 2020 have already been made using the new repair index.

»The repair index gives our customers the assurance that reparability in VAUDE products is not a coincidence, but one of the most important aspects in the product development stage.«

Hilke Patzwall, VAUDE Senior Manager for Sustainability

Material efficiency

Material efficiency, (the utilization of the fabric width in production) plays an extremely important role in the sustainability of a product. Clearly, any fabric/material that doesn't end up directly in the product ends up going into the disposal bin and is therefore wasted.

That's why taking material efficiency into consideration is so important for sustainable product development. We can already determine the product’s ecological footprint right during the design phase!

We consider material efficiency for both individual products and also across a specific product range, for example all T-shirts. The is done in close cooperation with the respective production facilities.

We can design patterns with an eye on high material efficiency, but in the end, it’s the producer who has to place all the pattern pieces on the fabric – ideally taking all products that use the material into account. This is how we can work together to achieve the most effective utilization of the entire fabric width without any remnants.

Material efficiency
In this example, you can see that an additional back seam on a T-shirt might not only be a nice design element, but also significantly increases material efficiency: The fabric panel is better utilized and less material is needed overall.

Criteria for end-of-product-life recycling

Even the most functional, durable and repairable product arrives at the end of its product life cycle at some point. To ensure that it can then be truly recycled, we have established criteria for the selection of materials and processing technologies that go into effect right at beginning of the product development stage.

In principle, the following applies: products made from materials that are as close to single-sort as possible and that can be easily separated into individual components are ideal for material recycling. We at VAUDE have known this for a long time. Do any of you still remember the VAUDE Ecolog Recycling Network? It was founded in 1994 with products made from 100% polyester that could be recycled very well. The only problem was that so few products came back into the cycle that we had to discontinue the Ecolog program. You can read more about this here.

Single-sort products, however, usually don't have much to do with the reality of the many other demands a product has to meet. At least not yet. As a rule, we at VAUDE also work with a combination of materials, because they simply achieve better durability and functionality.

A few examples:

  • Microparticles are often shed from napped fabrics like fleece. If we replace some of the polyester with wood fiber cellulose in a fleece product, we have a mix of materials, but the wood fiber particles are biodegradable in the environment. Of course, a fleece made entirely of wood fiber cellulose would be better, but we haven’t yet succeeded in making a durable, hard-wearing outdoor fleece from it. More about wood fiber cellulose here
  • Shirts made from polyester blended with wool have the great advantage that they remain fresh smelling longer than pure polyester shirts. (Primarily because at VAUDE, we don't use any chemical or nanotechnology-based anti-odor finishes.) With the wool content, you can wear your shirt much more often without having to wash it. This conserves water, energy and detergent which is good for the environment. More about wool at VAUDE here
  • Stretchy fabrics with elastane are even more problematic from a recycling point of view. The best solution would be to use no elastane at all. But then there would be no stretch or only very limited stretch, which is not an option for products like bike pants. The entire textile industry is looking for a solution here, but we are currently having to make a compromise between functionality and recyclability.

In the VAUDE Material Policy, all materials are evaluated based on their recyclability as well as the current status of the recycling infrastructure that actually exists. All materials that are not recyclable or only very difficult to recycle according to the current status (e.g. elastane, polyurethane) should be avoided whenever possible. Or, before they can be used, our product managers have to check if they are really necessary for the function of the product, or if the percentage in the product could be reduced. More about the VAUDE Material Policy here


Proportion of Green Shape products in the VAUDE total collection

Green Shape 3.0 has applied to all newly developed products since the Summer 2022 Collection, and starting with the Summer 2024 Collection, to all continuing products as well (all-season products). This explains why the share of Green Shape in the total collection decreased somewhat from the Summer 2024 Collection onward.

However, we’re also seeing that the percentage isn’t completely dropping, despite the stricter criteria. This shows how deeply the Green Shape criteria are now anchored in the entire VAUDE product development process.

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Without replacement parts, without set components such as inner jackets of double jackets.

But we are also facing great challenges – especially with tents, backpacks and shoes. Materials such as hard plastics, metals, foams for shoe soles etc. are a pretty tough nut to crack from an ecological point of view. Often, our suppliers’ ability to understand and accept the high environmental requirements for our products still needs to be developed. Therefore, we are investing a great deal of energy into our supply chain. More details here


What are our next steps?

To make Green Shape even more credible and reliable, we want to have Green Shape accredited by an independent organization as a standard for environmentally friendly outdoor products. So the next step toward this goal is the external accreditation of the standard by the German Accreditation Body (DAkks). This is a very complex administrative process that requires a lot of preparatory work.

Currently, we are preparing our accreditation application, and we hope that Green Shape will achieve accreditation by the end of 2023. We are also supported in this process by the Arqum, a company which will act as the future standard setter.

Through accreditation, we aim to make Green Shape even more credible and resilient, and prepare the Green Shape Standard for the requirements of the new EU directives: the EU Green Claims Directive and the EU Empowering Consumers Directive.


Engage all relevant perspectives in the further development of Green Shape: The role of our new advisory board

In 2022, we established a Green Shape Advisory Board to increase the Green Shape Standard’s independence from VAUDE and to ensure the technical and process-related quality of Green Shape through exchange with representatives of the most important stakeholder groups. The advisory board meets three times annually to discuss relevant topics and to advise us on technical issues.

Green Shape Advisory Board
The photo (collage) shows the newly founded Green Shape Advisory Board with the following experts:

  • Anna Rodewald / GreenroomVoice (top row left)
  • Marco Weichert / Weichert Agencies (top row center)
  • Fabian Nendza / Globetrotter (top row right)
  • Dr. Maximilian Hempel / Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (bottom row left)
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Führ / Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (bottom row center), photo credit: Jürgen Mai
  • Rebecca Tauer / WWF (bottom row right), photo credit: Marlena Waldthausen/WWF
At the end of the day, a label like Green Shape is about making it easier for you as a customer and product user to be able to recognize which products are more eco-friendly so that you can make informed purchasing decisions – for the benefit of us all and the planet.

We are happy to receive feedback, ideas and suggestions for Green Shape. Just send us an email via the contact button on this page.


And what about VAUDE products that aren't Green Shape?

Many VAUDE products now meet our strict Green Shape criteria. However, all of our other VAUDE products are also strictly monitored.

If, for example, the material and/or material production are not certified by independent third parties, our risk assessment automatically increases. Read more about VAUDE’s minimum standard for all products and our Management of Harmful Substances Policy here

GRI:   2-4
Restatements of information
GRI:   3-3
Management of material topics
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