Search Report
2022 Sustainability Report
published 2023/08/01

We are proactive in our fight against hazardous substances

We have been working on a comprehensive Hazardous Chemicals Management System for over a decade to ensure that you can buy safe and clean VAUDE products without hazardous substances. In 2001, VAUDE became the first bluesign® system partner and in 2016 we were one of the few outdoor brands to sign the strict Greenpeace Detox Commitment and since 2019 we have been a "Friend of ZDHC", which means that we agree with the goals and procedures of the ZDHC and use its databases, process documents and platforms.

Clear strategy for chemicals management

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.

  • We place the highest emphasis on the safety for our customers.
  • We refrain from using ecologically harmful and hazardous chemicals.
  • Even without legal regulations, we are finding substitutes for dangerous substances.
  • We take on comprehensive responsibility for people and the environment in our supply chain.
  • We train and empower our partners in the supply chain.

Exceptionally strict limits with the Detox Commitment®


VAUDE Roadmap to Detox

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:


AskREACH Project Award – Best Supply Chain Communicators.

The REACH Regulation is a European Union regulation adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals. REACH Article 33(1) states that within the supply chain, any supplier of a product containing a substance of very high concern (SVHC) above a certain threshold must provide the recipient of the article with sufficient information to enable safe use of the product.

To raise awareness of REACH consumer legislation among the European population, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) launched the EU LIFE project AskREACH (2017 - 2022) together with 19 project partners from 13 EU member states. This year, the AskREACH jury awarded VAUDE second place in the category "Best Supply Chain Communicator". A total of 50 European companies participated in the award. This is a great award for our chemical management and supply chain collaboration!


bluesign® Impact Report

VAUDE has been working together with bluesign® on a more sustainable supply chain since 2001. The bluesign® Impact Report 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.

Impact report

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 8.4 % in energy consumption, 7.4 % Co2e emissions and 10.2 % water.

The bluesign® system is based on input stream management which means that only "clean", certified ingredients can be used. The result is clean, safe and environmentally friendly materials and products. In other words, a kind of “purity law” for the production of materials.

The bluesign® system gets to the root of the problem: Instead of just looking at the finished product and analyzing it for chemical substances, the bluesign® system checks the upstream production processes of all processed components (fabrics, yarns, chemicals such as dyes, etc.) of a product. 


Chemicals on the radar

The strict limits in the bluesign® system help protect consumers, reduce the burden on the environment, and conserve resources. Within the bluesign® system, over 9000 limited or banned chemical substances are monitored.

VAUDE has fully incorporated these substances and their limit values into its own Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL). In our VAUDE Greenpeace Detox Commitment, we are in part even stricter than the bluesign® system.


Clear limits for production of finished materials and products

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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.


Consistent monitoring of the supply chain using the VAUDE M/RSL

Nearly 100 % of our producers have now signed our M/RSL. This shows that the acceptance and active cooperation of our supply chain has grown and that we have created a solid basis for this issue. The M/RSL is an integral part of our company policy and is now a well-established process. Whenever the ZDHC publishes a new M/RSL, we adapt our M/RSL accordingly and then send it to our suppliers. By signing the M/RSL, the suppliers commit themselves to comply with our requirements.

VAUDE Green Shape Products: Suppliers must provide test reports.

Green Shape

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.


How does a Harmful Materials Management System work?

VAUDE Chemical Management

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.


When are tests carried out?

VAUDE Chemical Testing

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.

Hazardous substance tests on materials and finished products

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

Wastewater tests

Fresh water must be pre-tested to determine whether hazardous chemicals have been used in production (such as for the fabric of a garment) or to ensure that no hazardous substances enter into the facility’s wastewater. Sometimes hazardous substances can already be found here in dangerous concentrations. After obtaining this initial value as a reference point, wastewater tests are carried out before and/or after wastewater treatment. This serves to monitor the quality of the wastewater treatment by the supplier. In addition, sludge is also tested as many substances are absorbed during wastewater treatment.
harmful substances management

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

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

  • AOX, COD and BOD values
  • nitrogen
  • heavy metals, etc.

The second includes M/RSL parameters such as

  • alkylphenols/alkylphenol ethoxylates (AP + APEO)
  • phthalates-perfluorinated compounds
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • chlorophenols, etc.

Results of Conventional Parameters

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.

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An evaluation of our supply chain showed that 81% of our suppliers in 2022 had achieved the Aspirational Level in 2021. These are great results and they show how intensively the supply chain has dealt with these parameters and improved as a result.

Results of M/RSL Substances

The results show that most of the chemicals classified as hazardous by Greenpeace are no longer used in our supply chain. The graph shows that our suppliers' tests in 2022 were 100% free of 8 of the hazardous classified chemicals. In 2 substance groups (chlorophenols and PFCs), there is still a need for action. Although VAUDE has already consistently eliminated the use of PFCs since 2018, there are, unfortunately, still isolated incidents in the wastewater tests. The reason for this is that our suppliers also produce for other brands that are still using PFCs and chlorophenols and these can therefore get into the wastewater.


Overview of available wastewater tests

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Challenges – chemicals of concern that we have not yet fully found substitutes for


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 2010 and all clothing fabrics have been PFC-free since 2021. Currently we still use a very few PFC-finishes for waterproof zips and tents.

Chlorophenols are often by-products of dye production or used as anti-mold finishes. Chlorophenols are considered carcinogenic and mutagenic, so we have banned these substances in our MRSL and RSL.

Substitution of hazardous substances

VAUDE Substitution of Hazardous Substances

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.

More about

GRI:   2-28
Membership associations
GRI:   3-3
Management of material topics
GRI:   416-1
Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categories
GRI:   416-2
Incidents of non-compliance concerning the health and safety impacts of products and services
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