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.