Demanding Standards for Environmentally-friendly Production

In addition to social issues, environ­mental standards are an essential aspect of our holistic supplier management. We monitor our suppliers’ compliance with environ­mental standards, provide them with important expertise in the areas of climate and environ­mental protection, and offer concrete recom­men­da­tions for action in the imple­men­tation of improve­ments. In 2014 we signed the ambitious Detox Commitment, with the aim to exclude hazardous chemicals from the textile supply chain by 2020.

The environ­mental organ­i­sation Green­peace launched the Detox campaign in 2011 to draw attention to the use of hazardous chemicals in textile production. The aim of the pledge is to keep such chemicals out of the entire textile production process by 2020. This includes pre-production processes, such as the dyeing or printing of clothing. Although we have been working for years to exclude undesirable chemicals from our textile production, the imple­men­tation of the very ambitious targets and timetable of the Green­peace Detox commit­ments pose a signif­icant challenge. Our suppliers and their suppliers must first build the necessary know-how. The entire textile industry is facing this challenge.

Approx­i­mately 8,000 chemicals are used in textile production today. Green­peace has given priority to eleven groups of hazardous substances for substi­tution with safer substances. Due to the many steps in the manufac­turing of textiles (from the extraction of raw materials, through spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing, printing and finishing), the substances used in production can often not be identified - especially since they are not neces­sarily found in the final product. A pillar of the Detox commitment is, therefore, trans­parency of the complex supply chain. On the basis of the increasing concen­tration of our supplier network and the close collab­o­ration with WE factories, we are working towards achieving transparancy over subsup­pliers. Concrete steps are:

  • the expansion of the monitoring and inspection system for hazardous chemicals throughout the supply chain,
  • providing support to our local business partners in the substi­tution of undesirable substances and
  • devel­oping proce­dures to screen suppliers.

In some areas, which are relevant for the imple­men­tation of the require­ments, we have already achieved success: We use the eco-friendly textile finishing ecorepel® as a water and dirt repellent, instead polyflu­o­ri­nated chemicals (PFCs). In addition to the substances from the eleven priority groups, we want to identify other poten­tially hazardous chemicals and to exclude these from our textile manufac­turing as well. In addition, we are working to create a closed life cycle for recycling materials from our textiles for the production of new textiles.

Binding require­ments for our suppliers

Mandatory environ­mental require­ments apply to the production of our entire consumer goods assortment, not only textiles. These are defined in the Tchibo Social and Environ­mental Code of Conduct (SCoC). Examples include the proper disposal of waste and compliance with national environ­mental laws. We require that our suppliers release no harmful chemicals into air and water, and we make sure that they have the necessary filters or water treatment plants.

Since 2014, we vet all potential new suppliers for compliance with environ­mental standards before order placement. In a pilot project in China, we examined how to integrate these criteria into the risk management of our supply chains. The pilot phase showed that 70% of manufac­turers already met our current minimum require­ments. However, we expect this level to decline as we signif­i­cantly raise our environ­mental standards in the context of Detox. Fewer than 70% of factories are expected to meet these standards.

Steps for environ­mental and climate protection

In the WE (Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality) Programme, we raise the awareness of our suppliers for the issue of environ­mental protection. For example, we give them expertise on the subject of resources and climate protection or help them to build an environ­mental management system.

We make another contri­bution to environ­mental and climate protection through the Carbon Perfor­mance Improvement Initiative (CPI₂). The programme was estab­lished in 2011 by nine German retailers and brands and the Foreign Trade Associ­ation of German Retailers, to push for the reduction of green­house gas emissions. The initiative is supported by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the German Investment and Devel­opment Company (DEG). An online tool provides factories with concrete recom­men­da­tions on how to reduce their energy consumption and CO₂ emissions. The measures include, for example, heat recovery, periodic tests to ensure that the seal of the air pressure system is intact, and the instal­lation of modern electric motors. In 2014 we conducted a CPI₂ pilot project with select suppliers in China and Bangladesh. By now, ten of our strategic suppliers partic­ipate in the CPI2 programme. Since the beginning of 2015, modules for water and chemical management have been integrated in the tool.