Vaude has committed to meet the Greenpeace Detox challenge, which asks outdoor apparel brands to eliminate all hazardous chemicals in its supply chain by 2020.

The German brand also publicly  committed itself to eliminating fluorocarbons (PFCs) from the its apparel collection by 2018 at the Outdoor Show in Friedrichshafen on July 13.

Vaude has already made considerable progress toward that goal. Ninety-five percent of all clothing in its Summer Collection 2017 is PFC-free. Through intensive research and development activities, Vaude has found a PFC-free DWR alternative with a high level of functionality for waterproof textile finishes. By 2020 fluorocarbons will be completely eliminated from all the company’s hardware products.

“Zero Discharge” is the joint goal of Vaude and Greenpeace. With this commitment, Vaude is taking clear responsibility for the entire lifecycle of its products, which also includes clean and safe production throughout the supply chain.

“Vaude has taken the PFC issue seriously from the beginning and has now set a very ambitious timeline to eliminate these hazardous chemicals by 2018 from its entire supply chain,” said Mirjam Kopp, Detox Outdoor project leader for Greenpeace. “Thank you Vaude for responding to your customers’ demands, for choosing to commit to Detox and taking this bold step towards a toxic-free future.”

For years Vaude has been working hard to completely avoid the use of hazardous chemicals – at its material suppliers as well.

“We want to be able to stand behind even the smallest button on our products,” said Antj von Dewitz, Vaude CEO. “But as an independent mid-sized company, the influence we have over our suppliers and the chemical industry has been too low. We therefore welcomed the Detox Greenpeace campaign from the outset. After intensive discussions and negotiations with Greenpeace, we have found common ground – which we are very pleased about! After all, we can only make progress by working together.”

For Vaude, the voluntary Detox Commitment involves major challenges that once again go far beyond the company’s current high level of dedication. The biggest challenge is the commitment to the Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL), which regulates strict limits and bans the use of many chemical substances in the production process and in the finished product. The crucial issue here is that the MRSL refers not only to the finished product, but to all chemicals that are used in the production process as well.

“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,” said Hilke Patzwall, Vaude’s CSR manager. “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. 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.

Vaude is already actively moving ahead along this path. The company recently launched the pilot project “Environmental Stewardship in the Textile Supply Chain”: Vaude’s primary material suppliers in China and Taiwan, which cover about 80% of its material volume, are being given the necessary expertise and the management’s awareness of hazardous chemicals is increasing. Training courses are led by both third-party and Vaude experts in the local language on-site. The project is sponsored by the DEG (German Investment and Development Corporation) and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. It is considered revolutionary across the entire textile industry.

Lead Photo courtesy Vaude – The company announced its commitment at the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen. From left: Mirjam Kopp, Detox Outdoor project leader from Greenpeace / Chiara Campione, Greenpeace / Manfred Santen, Chemistry expert from Greenpeace / Antje von Dewitz, CEO VAUDE / Bettina Roth, Head of Quality Mangement VAUDE / Jan Lorch, Head of Sales and CSR VAUDE / Hilke Patzwall, VAUDE CSR Manager