Search Report
2022 Sustainability Report
published 2023/08/01

Nothing goes to waste

We only produce as much merchandise as we can sell. And even when goods sometimes don’t sell or get returned, we believe that every product is valuable and shouldn’t be destroyed.

Goods are not destroyed

VAUDE is expressly committed to avoiding the destruction of merchandise that is still usable. Doing so not only makes no sense from an economic perspective, it is also anything but sustainable.

Valuable resources are, after all, used to manufacture our products – from the creativity, expertise and working time of the entire VAUDE team and production facility employees to raw materials and environmental resources such as energy and water.

As the first Outdoor brand in the market, VAUDE has joined the new German initiative “Save our Returns”. Because we handle returns according to their strict set of criteria, we are allowed to use their logo.

Read more here

Only what is sold is produced

VAUDE doesn’t engage in overproduction. We work with two collections per year: the two sales seasons spring/summer and fall/winter. In a very elaborate planning process, the required quantities for each product are determined for each market segment, each product range and each customer (retail shops). You can find out who the VAUDE customers are here.

sales seasons spring/summer

The first projection is made by product managers who are deeply familiar with the markets for their products. This is supplemented by our sales team planning. Based on these figures, the products are then ordered from the manufacturing facilities. If you want to know where VAUDE products are manufactured, click here.

Careful planning is also very important in these facilities, as that is the only way to achieve efficient production. All necessary materials must be produced and procured in a timely manner, employees need to be trained and their working hours must be planned. All of this helps avoid stress for production employees caused by large amounts of overtime, which is a requirement of the International Core Labor Standards. More on this issue at VAUDE Producers here.

If, despite good planning, there are nevertheless surpluses in the warehouse, VAUDE sells these products at special prices to specialist retailers or in a VAUDE outlet. Usable goods are never destroyed by VAUDE.

sales seasons fall/winter

Using material remnants for upcycling

VAUDE carefully selects all materials for each product. Unlike the usual procedure in the textile industry, we work closely with our material suppliers (though we do not buy the materials ourselves, our producers do.) Background information on the VAUDE supply chain can be found here.

Material suppliers must also efficiently calculate the quantities of each material and the components they produce. This is why timely planning of quantities is so important at VAUDE. Based on our planning figures, producers order the materials needed for VAUDE production very early (even up to a year in advance) – or at least the raw materials such as undyed fabrics that haven’t yet been finished.

Due to good planning, there are usually no materials left over in production. Only when VAUDE’s quantities are sometimes not sufficient to reach material minimum order quantities does the producer keep the remaining quantity. Since VAUDE pays for these materials, we do everything we can to use them effectively.

In most cases, they are used to produce special models in smaller quantities, which are sold through the regular channels. Residual material that can no longer be used for production because, for example, the quantity is too small for series production, is donated locally in the country of production.

When there are residual materials in Germany or Europe that can no longer be used for production, they are upcycled or sold on eBay for the benefit of Save the Children. More about this here. Unfortunately, under customs law it is currently very difficult to import textile materials from Asia to Germany, so we cannot currently upcycle these materials ourselves


Sustainable returns management

Returns always occur in retail due to incorrect orders, contractual return agreements within the scope of a "tops/flops” exchange program or complaints. All returns are processed on site at VAUDE in Tettnang, Germany.

Since VAUDE almost exclusively works with specialty retailers, we do not have to deal with the high return rates that online and general retailers see. At VAUDE, specialist retailers buy in larger quantities and avoid ordering individual products "to choose from", unlike the common practice for general retail.

Specialist retail purchasers are familiar with the products before they order them. Using pre-produced samples, they can examine the design, workmanship, fit and materials at trade fairs, in VAUDE show rooms and when working directly with the sales team, and they can also try out or test the products as well.

Contractual agreements with (specialist) retailers dictate the conditions under which different products can be returned. They also include instructions for proper packaging and shipping.

All returns are rebooked into the warehouse and resold, unless they are no longer sellable (for example, due to special colors, signs of wear, etc.) In these cases, they are sold as remnants or Grade B goods, either in a shop or in a VAUDE outlet. If the packaging is damaged, it is replaced and the product is resold.

Customer returns is one part of the overall return system. Most of these products are repaired and returned to the customer. Figures and background information here.

In very rare cases, a product may actually have to be disposed of as residual waste or even destroyed – when it is defective or damaged, or by order of the authorities if safety aspects play a role. If such incidents occur, we report on them here.

What happens in retail with returned VAUDE products?

In the online VAUDE store, we provide a great deal of information on fit, size, intended use, as well as informative product photos for each item. We do this to make it easier for our customers to choose the right product so that it won’t have to be returned. Returns are unprofitable for any supplier, which is why we do everything we can to avoid them. Should returns from online sales occur, they will be handled by VAUDE as described above.

We don’t always know how our (specialist) trade customers deal with VAUDE products returned to them. We communicate very openly that we are against any destruction of goods that are still usable. We are in discussion with many of our retail customers to find solutions that do not end in the destruction of goods. Instead, products that can no longer be sold could be donated, for example. Donations, however, are (absurdly) subject to tax in Germany, which means that a retailer has to pay sales tax on the value of the donated goods. This often makes it economically more attractive to dispose of goods than to donate them, even though this should be the last choice from an ecological, social and societal perspective.

Click here for the info page on returns in the VAUDE online store.

GRI:   2-6
Activities, value chain and other business relationships
GRI:   3-3
Management of material topics
GRI:   203-2
Significant indirect economic impacts
GRI:   301-3
Reclaimed products and their packaging materials
GRI:   306
Waste water and waste
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