Search Report
2020 Sustainability Report
published 2021/08/02

We are facing our challenges and tackling them head on

We want to engage in business that is thoroughly sustainable. We have already achieved a great deal, but we also still have a long way to go. We have set ourselves high standards and are steadily setting ourselves new, ambitious goals – which also bring along their own challenges. We are facing up to these challenges and tackling them head on.

Every year there are issues and events both within the company and in the world at large that engage us and shape our work. 

Challenges and Events 2020

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Internal challanges

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Our biggest current challenges in the supply chain where our products are manufactured:

Eco-friendly and fair supply chain

VAUDE takes responsibility for the impact that products have – before, during and after the manufacturing of our products. In terms of both environmental protection and social responsibility, these are greatest in the upstream supply chain.

Collaboration with external partners such as Fair Wear (FW) and bluesign® along with membership in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles helps us to implement our own high standards at our material manufacturers as well. 

You can read about how we’re proceeding and how successful we’ve been here:

Safe chemicals in VAUDE products

Our intention is to take on responsibility for the entire life cycle of our products, which also includes clean and safe production in our supply chains. This is why have made an obligation with the Greenpeace Detox Commitment to prevent the release of harmful chemicals into the environment. The limits indicated in the VAUDE MRSL and exclusion of individual substances often go beyond legal requirements (REACH) and the requirements of other textile standards.

How are we tackling this challenge?

Plastic in the recycling economy: no plastic in the environment

Many plastics are a beneficial invention with a host of advantages for mankind. We too use synthetic materials for our products and packaging.

From an environmental point of view, however, plastics are associated with a number of problems: oil is usually used as a limited fossil resource for production, and many potentially hazardous chemicals are used. The long shelf life of plastic is an advantage for the longevity of products, but a serious disadvantage when it is released into the environment, as it usually isn’t biodegradable. Single-use plastic products are particularly problematic.  

With the VAUDE product philosophy and the VAUDE Green Shape Standard, we have laid the foundation for our products to become ever more sustainable throughout their entire product life cycle.

In order to conserve the fossil raw materials from which most plastics are made, VAUDE is increasingly relying on recycled materials and renewable raw materials. At the same time, we are helping to ensure that plastic waste doesn’t end up in the environment. We create demand for recycled materials – a first step towards recycling management.

Of course, this applies not only to the products themselves, but also to packaging!

Details of our measures can be found on the following pages:

Transparent supply chain

Our responsibility for the entire VAUDE product supply chain begins with being deeply familiar with our producers and suppliers and where the ingredients for our products come from. This is still not a given in the textile industry.

Our challenge is to create this transparency even for small parts purchased by our suppliers themselves. We have already achieved a great deal in this area, but we haven’t reached 100 % yet. Find out more here.

Our producers

Here we describe where our products and materials are manufactured: 


Another challenge for us is to make it clear to our customers where their VAUDE product is manufactured, preferably directly in the web shop. We are currently testing various technical options to achieve this.

 Transparency in itself doesn’t say anything about how sustainable our supply chain actually is.

With regard to social issues, we are therefore working together with Fair Wear, which annually reviews how successful we are in implementing high social standards. Find out more here

The assessment of our suppliers with regard to environmental protection is a greater challenge for us: we simply do not have data on emissions, energy and water consumption, waste generation or biodiversity.

That's why we have high hopes for the Higg Index. The Higg Index was developed as a joint venture of the textile industry and is the first international uniform instrument for measuring the sustainability of textile products throughout the entire supply chain.

More on the Higg Index here

Environmentally friendly transport

Our products generally have to be transported over long distances from the producer to our retail customers. This transport generates not only CO2 emissions, but also pollutants such as sulphur dioxide. We therefore want to make our transports as environmentally friendly as possible. Together with myclimate, we have calculated a variety of transport and emissions scenarios. Our products travel primarily by large container ship and by rail from their place of production to our warehouse. These methods are the most environmentally friendly alternative, according to our calculations.

Nevertheless, we still see room for improvement. Together with the University of Darmstadt, we analyzed how we could make our transport even more environmentally friendly in a project. Within the project we defined a roadmap with several measures.

More at "Merchandise logistics"


Our biggest current challenges at the VAUDE company headquarters:


Establishing self-effective organization

The world is becoming more complex, uncertain and ambiguous and the momentum is increasing. This has given rise to a number of challenges for both our organization and our employees and the demands they make on employees are high. In some cases, this uncertainty can result in excessive demands on particular individuals. How do we tackle this challenge?

Since 2013 we have been working diligently to find solutions with a program of trust and innovation. The central question is what structural and cultural changes do we need to make to remain sustainable and innovative so that we will have a secure future. We have found many effective answers that are summarized under the title "The self-effective organization."

The self-effective organization makes use of the duality of security and insecurity. Our values such as trust and partnership, our visions and goals form the basis and provide orientation in order to self-effectively and quickly react to challenges. In doing so, we can develop diverse and tailored solutions. We are making use of a wide variety of approaches – from complete self-organization and non-hierarchy in interdisciplinary teams to process reliable processes.

The self-effective organization depends on all employees giving feedback – both critical and constructive. Treating each other as equals is a central component that leads to a highly effective organization and employees.

Establishing and continuing to develop our self-effective organization is an ongoing task that is constantly shaped by new objectives and hurdles within the context of current events – such as the Corona pandemic in 2020. It has become apparent that our trust-based, self-effective collaboration has carried us through tough times and that the work we’ve put in has paid off many times over.

More at "VAUDE culture of trust"

Balancing professional and private life

Our intention is to create the structures for a health balance between professional and personal life. We have managed to develop a family-friendly culture. On average, we have about 45 employees who are on parental leave each year as well as a high part-time employment rate (40 % in 2020).

We want to make real compatibility possible and yet we occasionally must face the limits and special effort that following this path entails. The challenges that we are confronting include organizational management (especially scheduling and workplace equipment) and the assurance of our productivity.

Furthermore, our childcare center is operating at full capacity and we can’t guarantee every employee the opportunity to have their child cared for directly here at VAUDE.

Our human resources department consistently develops concepts for parental leave and re-entering the workforce in order to ensure that they are quickly reintegrated into their teams in a value-adding and efficient manner. We are currently working on a concept for job sharing and job rotation for managing our high part-time employee rate. The use of mobile work, which we offer nationwide, is very valuable in this context. In addition, in the future we want to examine the issue of care-giver leave and professional sabbatical because we feel that they are becoming ever more relevant for our employees.

Our intention is to create the structures for a health balance between professional and personal life. We have managed to develop a family-friendly culture. On average, we have about 50 employees who are on parental leave each year. Our VAUDE birth rate is four times the German average.

More: "Professional and private life: We make almost everything possible"

Environmentally friendly and health-promoting mobility

Our aim is to do business that is climate-neutral and to reduce our emissions as much as possible. About one-third of the emissions in VAUDE’s carbon footprint come from business travel and commuting. We have an urgent need to implement measures aimed at reducing emissions.

However, VAUDE cannot do this on its own: Our mobility concept in 2018 enabled us to achieve our goal of reducing emissions from employee mobility by 10 percent compared with 2015 for the first time. Nevertheless, the daily commuting of our employees to work alone still generates more than 700 tons of CO2 equivalents!

Everyone must pull together to get new transport policies off the ground – local politicians, transport companies and business.

Read more about the VAUDE mobility concept here.

VAUDE Climate footprint for Obereisenbach here

Maintaining our economic independence

For several years now, the outdoor industry has been growing at a very low level and has developed into a competitive market. For us as a family-owned company in an industry that is dominated by more and more companies backed by financially strong investors, this means ensuring economic independence through careful planning and the use of alternative financing options - see "Sustainable business is worthwhile".

In addition, the international outdoor market has been characterized by numerous upheavals in recent years. Examples include strong concentration processes for both stores and brands, winters with little snow and strong fluctuations in the dollar exchange rate. In order to secure our business success, it is very important for us to be independent of these upheavals. We are therefore committed to a healthy balance of several sources of income.

As a mountain sports brand, we also rely on the potential of our urban and bike products in several distribution channels, our industrial customer business and the footwear sector. We are investing in our Made in Germany production and in the expansion of European markets.

Compared to our competitors, we have been meeting these challenges well so far. Our growth rates in recent years were higher than the European outdoor market average. Nevertheless, we must continue to deal consistently with the opportunities and risks of the market and conduct our strategic and economic planning based on the findings of market analysis. We are committed to a long-term perspective and homogenous, stable growth.

More at "Our Markets" and "Sustainable Management"

Integrating sustainability into software systems

In order to establish a successful sustainability management system, the technical requirements necessary to optimally utilize available knowledge and data about our own sustainability performance must be created. Currently, data collection, evaluation and analysis are largely done manually. This is very time-consuming and error prone.

In order to increase our efficiency and monitor it even more specifically, the development of our IT landscape in the coming years is a high priority. Since 2016 we have been working on a transition to a new ERP system that will integrate the sustainability management system.

The challenge is that the ERP systems available on the market do not meet our requirements. The integration of sustainability management into such a system is therefore associated with large amounts of time and financial resources. We have developed a design for this integration, and implementation is planned to take place by 2022.

Working together for a fair and environmentally friendly economy

We see sustainability as a team sport. Many of the challenges that our company is facing cannot be overcome by working alone, which is why we actively collaborate with other companies, associations, researchers and stakeholders inside and outside the industry.

More at "Engagement in initiatives"

GRI:   102-14
Statement from senior decision-maker
GRI:   103
Management Approach
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