It is our declared goal to ensure product and consumer safety for each one of our product groups and to go beyond legal requirements.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, just behind oil. 25 % of the world’s chemicals are used for fashion production. We are working to meet this challenge which is why we have a clear strategy for the management of chemicals at VAUDE.
Making your products and production processes as free of pollutants as possible is like climbing a mountain. The goal is clearly in sight, but you first have to build up your stamina, find your climbing team, divide the route into achievable stages and, if necessary, react to external influences such as the weather. That's how it’s been as we’ve followed the route toward Detox. The bluesign system partnership in 2001 was an important milestone, as well as projects and successes such as the PFC-free Apparel Collection 2018. All this started long before our Greenpeace Detox Commitment and will continue to challenge us again and again.
Here are the milestones we’ve passed on our way to Detox:
VAUDE has been working together with bluesign® on a more sustainable supply chain since 2001. This year, bluesign® published its first Impact Report. It shows that by implementing the bluesign® system, bluesign® textile manufacturers have significantly reduced their impact in the key areas of water, energy and CO2e emissions by increasing the use of bluesign® approved chemicals.
The infographic above illustrates how much energy, CO2e emissions and water have been saved by using the bluesign® system. The bluesign® suppliers in our supply chain have saved 10.3% in energy consumption, 24.5% Co2e emissions and 11.4% water since becoming bluesign® system partners. Due to our growth, our chemical consumption has also increased by 8.4%. In terms of chemicals used for VAUDE, the share of bluesign approved chemicals has increased by 152%.
More information about bluesign® can be found here.
The introduction of an M/RSL was a big step. While compliance with limit values was previously observed in finished products only, it is now required throughout the entire manufacturing process including the production of yarns, weaving, dyes, coating/lamination and further finishing steps. This was quite a big step for us, and we also need the cooperation of our supply chain. However, we will continue to follow this path, as it will help us achieve great improvement for the people and the environment near our production sites. For all materials used, such as substances, ingredients and packaging material, VAUDE M/RSL is the basis of the business relationship.
The limits and prohibitions of individual substances listed in the VAUDE M/RSL go far beyond legal requirements (REACH) and the requirements of other textile standards.
Our M/RSL is consistent with the M/RSL of the Textile Alliance and with the M/RSL of the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals). The RSL for finished products is based on the Bluesign RSL for finished materials/products. We adjust our M/RSL when the ZDHC or bluesign® makes changes, due to new knowledge and legal requirements. The ZDHC unites a number of leading fashion and sports brands to jointly promote the phase-out of hazardous substances.
Each supplier and producer must confirm compliance with the limits stipulated in the M/RSL - and, if necessary, back this up with test reports. For our partners, we have agreed on a VAUDE Hazardous Substances Program with a renowned testing institute.
By consistently using M/RSL-compliant chemicals and conforming with a certified Environmental Protection and Occupational Safety Management System in our production facilities, we work exclusively with certified materials that meet the highest sustainability standards. This also means that these materials were produced with little or no risk to the environment or the employees on site. We use these materials in your Green Shape product.
Your guarantee for an environmentally friendly and safe product.
We require or carry out chemical tests on the individual materials and components even before the final selection of materials for the coming season. During the ongoing sample or main production, random wastewater tests are carried out by independent laboratories.
Due to the challenges posed by the Corona pandemic in our countries of production, we increased our random sampling for chemical tests. We were able to determine that, with the exception of one product, all others met the REACH requirements and there were only individual deviations from our RSL. Close communication with our supply chain is very important to us in order to achieve compliance beyond the legal limits. Basically, a positive trend in the avoidance of SVHCs is visible.
Thanks to our consistent testing in recent years, we have been able to achieve significant improvements in this area. This shows us that even local supply materials, (materials provided by the producer) largely meet our strict target values. These materials are considered "on the way" for us to meet the very strict M/RSL limits. We are working closely with our partners to make further progress. Read more
The Waste Water Guideline developed by ZDHC is currently gaining acceptance in the supply chain. This guide contains clear guidelines and procedures for sampling and chemical testing of wastewater and sludge in textile production. VAUDE bases its wastewater tests on these guidelines, as they specify all relevant points. This also enables closer cooperation with other brands. The test reports are uploaded directly from the testing institute to the ZDHC Wastewater Gateway platform and are available to all brands associated with this supplier.
This means that expenses and multiple inspections can be avoided and also that everyone can work together on improvement measures.
Results of Wastewater Tests in the Supply Chain
The results of the wastewater tests are divided into two groups:
The first includes conventional parameters such as
The second includes M/RSL parameters such as
The ZDHC Waste water Guidelines distinguish between three different performance levels.
Foundational: minimum requirement, identical to local regulatory requirements, demonstrates effective control of MRSL compliant chemicals in use.
Progressive: exceeds the minimum requirements for Foundational, demonstrates the existence of a comprehensive chemical and wastewater management system.
Aspirational: means that highest performance (best-in-class, best practice), continuous improvement and ongoing development in the area of chemical and wastewater management are present.
PFCs are used in the textile industry to manufacture water and dirt repellent products. They are not biodegradable, are released into the environment mainly via wastewater and are suspected of being carcinogenic. VAUDE has had PFC-free membrane production since 2011 and all clothing fabrics have been PFC-free since 2018. Currently we still use a PFC-finish for waterproof zips, tents, shoes and backpacks.
Hologenated solvents contain halogens such as chlorine, bromine or iodine. They are often used in the textile industry to clean products. They can cause considerable damage to human and animal health. We are working diligently and in close contact with our partners to find a substitution for this substance in our supply chain.
It is our declared goal to continue to work hard to find alternatives for chemicals of concern. To ensure compliance with our limits and regulations, we will continue to work on the transparency of our supply chain. We believe that we can achieve this through a partnership relationship with our suppliers and producers. In this context we want to encourage more suppliers and producers to publish results via platforms such as the ZDHC Gateway or the IPE platform.