EVERYTHING ABOUT THE BLUESIGN® STANDARD
Sustainability where textile production is concerned is an issue that affects us all. After all, it’s about what we wear on our bodies every day. Whether it’s jeans, a functional jacket or a backpack for hiking, biking or ski touring, the manufacturing process is complex and can have a significant impact on people and nature. So we want to make sure we minimize that impact. Which is why we are always looking for ways to optimize consumption at every stage of the production chain – from raw materials to finished product.
This includes the quantity, type and quality of materials used just as it does energy and water consumption, or the handling of chemicals, noise pollution, the waste generated and occupational safety. In our efforts to minimize the impact of our manufacturing processes on the environment, we’ve applied the bluesign® standard since 2008. It’s a coherent approach that fits perfectly with our 360° Responsibility strategy.
Unlike most eco labels, the bluesign® system doesn’t just check the end product for harmful substances or chemical residue – it’s concerned with examining the manufacturing processes for all the individual components along the whole supply chain, and putting the fabrics that are used for our backpacks and sleeping bags through rigorous compliance checks. The same applies to the impact that the manufacturing processes have on people and the environment.
Using the ‘bluesign® criteria’, the manufacturing processes and the way the components are made are inspected and made more sustainable. These are then given ‘bluesign® approved’ status. Eventually, once each step in the supply chain uses sustainable materials and manufacturing practices, the product is then be declared a ‘bluesign® product’. These sustainably made products are made with a minimum of 90% ‘bluesign® approved’ fabrics and 30% ‘bluesign® approved’ component parts. It is our aim to hit 100% bluesign® approved components, in order to provide the highest standards in safety and achieve the greatest possible reduction in harmful substances.
Manufacturing textile products involves a lot of chemicals. They’re used to add color or waterproofing performance, for instance. According to bluesign® over 1000 chemical substances are used in the process. Of these, over 900 are harmful chemicals and must be carefully managed. In addition to questions of occupational safety, the way wastewater is processed or limited are also important issues. And so the chemists and engineers at bluesign® drew up a Restricted Substances List (RSL). There are over 800 banned substances listed, with the list updated on a yearly basis and open to public scrutiny. Chemicals included in the list are prohibited from use in production. The bluesign® standard also helps reduce the amount of resources used in textile manufacturing. According to bluesign®’s own statistics (Source: https://www.bluesign.com/en/business/our-story) their system leads to a reduction in water consumption of -50%, energy up to -30% and chemicals up to -15%.
We are constantly striving to increase the proportion of our products that have bluesign® product status. Currently (as of February 2021) there are 21 models of backpack and sleeping bag in our collection sporting the bluesign® label: three lifestyle day packs, the Kikki children’s pack and 17 down sleeping bags from the Astro series.
In addition, almost all of our other products are currently made with a high proportion of bluesign® certified materials.
It’s not easy to navigate the jungle of eco labels out there. We purposefully selected the most stringent set of standards that takes an all-encompassing, holistic approach to a fundamental aspect of our work. bluesign® is wholly committed to making textiles and textile manufacturing methods more sustainable. We view our collaboration with bluesign® as an essential step in combatting the overexploitation of people and nature. As someone who is passionate about the outdoors, and strives to only buy gear that’s sustainably made, when it comes to any of our bluesign® products, you can be sure of the following:
- harmful substances are restricted along the entire supply chain
- they are not made using environmentally harmful substances
- they are not harmful to human health
- controls and limits were upheld for the use of chemicals
FOR FAIR PRODUCTION
It’s something we all strive for – to make the world a better, more equitable place.
Wouldn’t it be good to know that each person involved in the making of a deuter backpack or bag was paid a living wage?
Wouldn’t it be good to know that important social standards were upheld in the making of your new deuter sleeping bag?
Consumers are increasingly, and rightly, demanding that fair working conditions are upheld in the manufacturing and trade of goods – whether it’s sports gear or breakfast muesli. Here at deuter, we know that we must take action. So, to make sure that our efforts are not diluted as individual acts, we’ve joined forces with others. deuter has been a member of the Fear Wear Foundation (FWF) since 2011 and held its Leader status every year since 2013. Together it is our goal to foster socially just, environmentally friendly, and sustainable manufacturing conditions.
Our involvement in the FWF is a key element in our Together for 360° Responsibility strategy. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative that works together with companies and factories to improve working conditions in textile and garment factories, particularly on the ground in production countries. Implementation of practices and schemes are regularly assessed by deuter representatives and independent experts alike. FWF membership also brings with it the efficiencies of a multi-stakeholder group, since other member companies often use the same production sites or ones in the same country, which means that some efforts to optimize processes can be carried out in a more efficient and less time-consuming way.
“To create change across the industry, we need all players on board."
With this statement at its core, deuter and 130 other brands from ten European countries are united as part of the Fair Wear Foundation. We’ve pooled our resources and together are committed to upholding the Code of Labor Practices, in order to create equitable business and production frameworks. The majority of Fair Wear’s work focuses on eleven priority countries: Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, India, Indonesia, North Macedonia, Myanmar, Romania, Tunisia, Turkey, and Vietnam. If big, well-known manufacturers set a good example, then production partners cannot help but also act in a socially responsible way.
As members of FWF, we document all activities relating to our corporate social responsibility on an annual basis. The Fear Wear Foundation then assesses it and puts forward suggestions for improvements. Our dedication to fair working conditions at our supplier production sites has been recognized by the FWF from the very start of our membership in 2011. In 2013, and every year since then, we were awarded with their prestigious Leader Status. In 2015, we were also presented with the Best Practice Award for responsible purchasing practices.
We do not engage in supplier-hopping practices. We focus our efforts on our two longstanding manufacturing partners. We have also limited the number of subcontractors they use. The relationship we’ve built up with these two partners goes back decades. We carry out regular audits with our suppliers, to check that standards are being upheld and see where we can still improve. We’ve agreed that subcontractors must also apply the same working conditions as our two main suppliers. Workers at these factories can also access the FWF Complaints Hotline. This helps foster mutual trust and dependability. “We took the decision many years ago now, that long-term partnerships are the way to go,” says deuter Managing Director, Robert Schieferle. So let’s make way for a fair future for everyone!
For full details on the Fair Wear Foundation and the measures we’ve taken, check out our latest Social Report and the Fair Wear Foundation website.
FWF Best Practice
How we reduced excessive overtime
A WINNING TEAM
deuter is Germany’s most popular backpack brand. Because we set the bar high when it comes to the standards we expect of our backpacks and sleeping bags. But we don’t stop there.
We want to make outdoor equipment in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way, and under fair conditions. However, we consider socially responsible production and supply chains to be equally important. Drawing up a few regulations for our production sites doesn’t go far enough. Other suppliers, such as spinning, dyeing and weaving mills, as well as finishers and textile printers, are part of the long supply chains involved in making our products. The more parties involved, the harder it is to monitor compliance with social and environmental standards. The world’s a complex place and as an individual brand it lacks transparency. Which is why we’re collaborating with other manufacturing partners and companies in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, or Textile Alliance for short. The collaboration helps us to break down the complexity of it all and ensure greater transparency.
How are major challenges tackled? We collaborate with other members to share expertise, strategies and ideas. By working together, we achieve way more than one company on its own. These principles underpin the Textile Alliance, whose core members are 86 companies and 14 trade associations. The organization was created by the German government in 2014 in response to the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh.
Both major players and medium-sized enterprises are on board; Adidas and Aldi, H&M as well as outdoor gear suppliers deuter and Schöffel. They are also joined by 20 NGOs, such as the WWF or FEMNET E.V., labor unions like DGB and IG Metall and representatives from the German government.
The objective is to improve social and environmental conditions in textile production worldwide. All measures are conceived so that member organizations are responsible for taking action themselves. The approach is a comprehensive one and is in line with our Together for 360° Responsibility strategy. Our Stronger Together motto applies beyond the Textile Alliance too. The alliance collaborates with the international, multi-stakeholder Fair Wear Foundation , which we also play an active role in.
The Textile Alliance wants to make a difference. Which is why its activities are diverse. Dealing with environmental concerns, ensuring living wages and combating corruption are all issues that member organizations deal with. The alliance focuses on 11 areas:
- Freedom of association and collective wage bargaining
- Discrimination, sexual harassment and gender-based violence
- Health and safety
- Wages and welfare benefits
- Working hours
- Child labor and forced labor
- Combating corruption
- Waste water and the use of chemicals
- Environmental protection and resource usage
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Animal welfare (including sheep farming)
Just like all the other member organizations, we draw up a report every two years. This report casts a critical eye on socio-environmental conditions, as well as the risks of compliance violations. The Textile Alliance is an effective way of preventing apathy. It requires member organizations to analyze their production conditions openly and honestly. The new review process also guarantees that an organization exercises diligence and can demonstrate a sophisticated risk-management process. All the compliance conditions for the Textile Alliance create the perfect foundations for the Green Button certification process and the German Supply Chain Act. At the same time, the Textile Alliance offers support and tried-and-true concepts. The more organizations that join the Textile Alliance, the more effective the measures will be.
>> Link: pdf Leitfaden: The review process step by step
>>Link: pdf Progress Report
>> Link: pdf 2019 Action Plan
Responsible Down Standard – for the love of animals
How do you think it would it feel to have someone rip the hair from your head, without any sort of anesthetic? Certainly not good. So it makes sense that plucking (“harvesting”) down from live birds has been banned in Europe since 1999. But do we really need a special standard that regulates how down from geese and ducks gets into sleeping bags? Yes, we do. Because just as in meat production, existing laws provide a certain framework but still leave loopholes that can lead to animals suffering – even if they aren’t live plucked. That is why we have been using down that complies with the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) for our down sleeping bag fill since 2015.
The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) monitors and ensures that down and feathers come from animals that have not suffered unnecessarily. The practice of live plucking and force-feeding in down production can result in serious harm to the animals. The standard offers you and us the certainty that the entire production and supply chain is traceable, from the chicks to the cleaned down to the finished sleeping bag. Only if animal welfare is respected at all stages does the sleeping bag meet the specifications of the RDS certificate. That is why we only work with RDS-certified suppliers who themselves only use certified down. You can recognize them by the "Responsible Down Standard" logo. Finished deuter products containing this certified down can then be recognized by the "Certified Animal Welfare" logo
Besides the ban on live plucking and force-feeding, the RDS contains a number of other animal welfare provisions. These include:
- Sufficient feed, without undue competition from other animals
- No use of growth hormones
- Avoidance where possible, of genetically modified feed
- Sufficient clean drinking water
- Clear rules on hygiene and space requirements for housing as well as sufficient outdoor space
The down in our sleeping bags comes from northern China, from free-range adult white ducks. These ducks are bred for the food industry. Their down is a by-product of meat production. This rules out live plucking. And there is no gavage (force-feeding) either, as foie gras only comes from grey geese and, besides, there is no demand for it in China. All RDS criteria and the traceability of the supply chain are checked unannounced by independent certification bodies.
Down is a miracle of nature – and probably the best protection against the cold. It comes from the plumage of geese or ducks. The downy, or fluffy under-feathers act like a large air cushion and thus insulate better than any synthetic fiber. Thanks to its high elasticity, down quickly regains its original shape – even if it was previously compressed in a sleeping bag stuff sack. In addition, down is extremely light and can absorb a lot of moisture. However, if down gets really wet, it loses its loft – like a soft layer of powder snow that suddenly collapses in the rain. Down from geese and eider ducks provides the best warmth.
Read here about what you can do to maintain the insulating performance of your down sleeping bag for as long as possible:
All of our down sleeping bags comply with the Responsible Down Standard. They are filled with 100 percent certified down. These lightweight and highly insulating sleeping bags also meet the requirements of the bluesign® standard and are treated with a PFC-free durable water-repellent finish. They are made under fair working conditions, with as little impact on the environment as possible. So you can enjoy a good night’s sleep with a clear conscience.
Green Button for green products
Get out and go green! We love nature as much as you do. And so we strive to make our products as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible. We have already achieved a great deal, but we haven’t yet reached our goal of a truly green process and production environment. But now, we’ve taken another step in the right direction: By having our products and the company as a whole certified by the Green Button label. The Green Button is the world’s first state-run certification mark to establish compliance standards for sustainably produced textiles. The initiative was launched by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2019. The Green Button perfectly reflects our own Together for 360° Responsibility strategy, which is aimed at ensuring that our products and our company as a whole are socially and environmentally equitable.
In order to bear the seal, products must be manufactured in line with strict environmental and social standards advised by the government. The Green Button audits companies on their due diligence and products on how they are made, with regard to chemical use, environmental impact, and working conditions. When a product bears the Green Button logo, consumers can be assured that they are buying sustainable textiles. Although the initiative was at first primarily run in Germany, it is a global partnership based on European and international standards. Companies outside Germany can also apply to have their production and products audited for certification. Independent auditors monitor compliance according to 46 standards and criteria. The Green Button organization also cooperates with Germany’s national Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien or Textilbündnis for short).
Green Button textile products must meet or exceed 46 social and environmental standards. The social standards include the payment of minimum wages, adherence to clearly defined working hours and paid overtime, and the prohibition of forced and child labor. The environmental standards include the prohibition of softening agents and other hazardous chemicals, as well as pollution limits for wastewater generated during the manufacturing process. The audit also covers another 20 criteria such as: Is there a local complaints mechanism for sewing workers? Do we take effective action to avert potential negative impacts? Are we identifying social and economic risks in the supply chain? We have joined the Green Button out of our conviction that “It’s good for people and good for the environment.” Our aim is to protect people and the environment along the entire supply chain – from resource extraction to the finished backpack or sleeping bag.
Find more details on Green Button standards here.
The Green Button assessed the measures we have in place and our compliance with important environmental standards, and we made the grade. In August 2021, we were officially certified and allowed to use the internationally recognized label. 19% of our entire collection already holds bluesign® product status (as at August 2021), and now they also bear the Green Button label.
The Green Button serves as a meta label across all the standards. It is by operating and acting holistically and meeting the stringent requirements of labeling organizations like bluesign®, Fair Wear Foundation, Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (Textilbündnis), and Responsible Down Standard in respect to corporate responsibility, environmental safety and fair working conditions that we are considered to be a sustainable brand and can apply the Green Button to our products.