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Vaude Initiates Greenpeace Detox Commitment

Vaude is stepping up its sustainable supply chain initiatives.

The outdoor outfitter recently announced its Greenpeace Detox Commitment, an agreement where Vaude pledged to eliminate all hazardous chemicals in its supply chain by 2020. In collaboration with Greenpeace, Vaude’s goal is to accomplish “Zero Discharge” in four years. By with this commitment, Vaude is taking full responsibility for its products’ lifecycles from start to finish in its supply chain.

“We want to be able to stand behind even the smallest button on our products. But as an independent mid-sized company, the influence we have over our suppliers and the chemical industry has been too low,” said Vaude chief executive officer Antje von Dewitz. “We therefore welcomed the Detox Greenpeace campaign from the outset. After intensive discussions and negotiations with Greenpeace, we have found common ground.”

Three new goals were set with Vaude’s Greenpeace Detox Commitment. The company will enforce strict management of hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain. Fluorocarbons (PFCs) will also be removed from Vaude’s apparel collection in two years. Lastly, the company will implement new business models that encourage second-hand use and also enforce supply chain transparency.

Pledging to the Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) will be Vaude’s greatest challenge in hazardous chemical management. MRSL regulates chemical limits and bans the use of chemical substances throughout the supply chain process and in finished products.

“For us this means that we need to bring all our suppliers on board and ensure that they build the relevant skills and awareness to avoid these chemicals. This is a daunting task that goes far beyond the normal sphere of a mid-sized outdoor brand and that requires enormous human and financial resources,” Hilke Patzwall, corporate social responsibility manager, said. “But we are convinced that we as a brand share responsibility for the components in our products and that this is the only way to progressively reduce their environmental impact–especially locally in Asia.”

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To address this challenge, Vaude already launched “Environmental Stewardship in the Textile Supply Chain,” a pilot project that gives its Chinese and Taiwanese suppliers training in hazardous chemical management on-site. DEG (German Investment and Development Corporation) is sponsoring this project.

Vaude will also eliminate PFCs from its apparel collection by 2018. To meet this goal, 95 percent of apparel in the company’s Summer 2017 collection is fluorocarbon-free. With research and development, the company also found a PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) alternative for future clothing manufacturing.

In order to actively contribute to a more sustainable brand image, Vaude is developing new business models to encourage second-hand use and upcycling under its Detox Commitment. Transparency is another goal: under its Greenpeace Detox Commitment, it will continue reporting about its progress and solutions for a toxic-free industry and future.