Sustainability as a Business Principle

Our supply chain is complex. To make it more socially and environ­men­tally sustainable, a rethinking is needed on many levels. At Tchibo, sustain­ability has been integrated into all processes, from product design to purchasing to quality management. At the same time we are confronted with challenges that go beyond our own business and which we can only solve together with strong partners. To this end, we work closely with other companies, factories, govern­ments, trade unions and non-govern­mental organ­i­sa­tions (NGOs).

Sustain­ability is a core element of our business strategy and, thus, of all business processes. The Tchibo Social and Environ­mental Code of Conduct (SCoC), developed in collab­o­ration with stake­holders, lays a strong foundation. The SCoC is a living document that we adapt to meet current require­ments; for example, in 2014, we included environ­mental standards in the audits of suppliers.

Tchibo Social and Environ­mental Code of Conduct (SCoC) (Download)

The Tchibo SCoC, developed in 2006, lays the foundation for our cooper­ation with suppliers: It defines minimum require­ments for working condi­tions and environ­mental standards in the production of our goods. The social require­ments are based on the core labour standards of the Inter­na­tional Labour Organ­i­sation (ILO) and the UN Universal Decla­ration of Human Rights, and refer to the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code and the SA8000 standard. In 2011, environ­mental require­ments were added and the document became known as the Tchibo Social and Environ­mental Code of Conduct (further abbre­viated SCoC). The environ­mental require­ments are based on the environ­mental principles of the UN Global Compact. The SCoC is a part of any business contract that we enter into and is thus mandatory for all our suppliers and business partners. By signing the SCoC, our suppliers commit to social and environ­mental standards in the production. These include limits on working hours, prohi­bition of child labour and discrim­i­nation, prevention of negative environ­mental impacts and the respect of trade union rights.

In order to support compliance with the SCoC and meet the require­ments of the "Ruggie Principles" (UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights), we engage on three levels:

  • Within the company: ongoing analysis of internal processes and close inter­action with the Product Design, Purchasing and Quality Management Depart­ments
  • Collab­o­ration with our business partners: define mandatory minimum standards for business collab­o­ration and carry out in-depth dialogue with suppliers to address environ­mental and social challenges in the supply chain
  • Collab­o­ration with stake­holders: cross-company cooper­ation to address struc­tural challenges

Within the Company: Analysis and Improvement of Our Purchasing Practices

In our ongoing effort to analyse and improve internal processes, we have empha­sised respon­sible purchasing practices. We analyse whether and how our buying behaviour affects condi­tions at factories. What possi­bil­ities do we have to ensure that purchasing decisions and management processes further social and environ­mental condi­tions in our supply chains? One way is to strengthen strategic partner­ships with suppliers and lock in purchasing volumes, so that factories are better able to plan ahead. We also regularly analyse latest economic, political and social devel­op­ments, for example in China, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, and align our factory portfolio and policies accord­ingly, for example, China, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, on the basis of the latest economic, political and social devel­op­ments. As a matter of principle, we want to be a more reliable and respon­sible business partner, in order to enable the sustainable improvement of factories.

Cooper­ation with Business Partners: Together in Dialogue

It is not enough to simply set standards in the SCoC and audit their imple­men­tation. Instead, we need the sustained commitment from the factories to recognise and address challenges. Since 2007 we have been training our suppliers to do exactly that with the long-term WE (Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality) Programme (Sustainable supply chains). In this context, we support our suppliers to contin­u­ously improve in the field of social standards, environ­mental require­ments and climate protection.

The Tchibo Vendor Days are a platform for exchange to share best practices as broadly as possible and maximise impact. In addition to know-how-transfer, we hereby intensify the relationship with our key suppliers.

Peer-Learning at the Tchibo Vendor Days

In 2014, the Tchibo Vendor Days took place for the third time, with the motto “Together for Change”. In November, we welcomed our 45 most important suppliers in Hong Kong where we operate one of two merchan­dising offices. These offices support the buying of goods in our Asian markets, and support the factories directly in the imple­men­tation of quality, social and environ­mental standards. Tchibo management, including repre­sen­ta­tives from the Buying and Sustain­ability Depart­ments, exchanged views with suppliers on economic, environ­mental and social challenges in the supply chain and discussed possible solutions at the factory level. The Vendor Days were also used to highlight and share best practices, including lessons from WE factories and environ­men­tally friendly production methods.

Cooper­ation with Stake­holders: Addressing Struc­tural Challenges Together

Often we encounter struc­tural challenges that hamper sustainable business: there are still serious short­comings in the building and fire safety of factories in Bangladesh; and, in many Asian countries workers do not earn enough to support themselves and their families. These problems cannot be tackled by individual companies alone. That is why we are joining forces with employers, trade unions, politics, and other companies to identify and implement global solutions.

Active with the Indus­triALL Global Union for labour rights

Together with the inter­na­tional textile trade union Indus­triALL Global Union and European textile retailers, we are devel­oping a process to enforce improve­ments for workers in the garment industry worldwide. The ACT (Action, Collab­o­ration, Trans­for­mation) Initiative focuses on living wages and the right to organise and carry out collective bargaining (Social aspects of production).

In our collab­o­ra­tions we focus mainly on stronger involvement and repre­sen­tation of workers. For example, the active engagement of factory workers is an important part of our work with the "Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh". Tchibo supported its estab­lishment and was the second company worldwide to sign it (Social aspects of production).

Another important alliance is the Partnerhsip for Sustainable Textiles, initiated in 2014 by Dr. Gerd Müller, the Federal Minister for Economic Cooper­ation and Devel­opment. Its archi­tects include repre­sen­ta­tives of the umbrella organi­za­tions of trade and industry, non-govern­mental organi­za­tions, trade unions and standard-setting organi­za­tions. Tchibo and other textile industry leaders joined the Partnership in June 2015, which now repre­sents more than 50% of the textile industry in Germany. The partners are currently designing a joint action plan to promote the imple­men­tation of environ­mental and social standards throughout the entire textile supply chain (Ambition & strategy).