Artificial leather production: Substitution of hazardous chemicals

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Artificial leather production: Substitution of hazardous chemicals

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner

 

 

 




Region

Project duration

Chemical and environmental management
Product and raw material innovation

ZDHC (in charge of the following brands Esprit, H&M, Inditex, M&S, Tesco, Li Ning)
Chemical manufacturers
Producers of artificial leather
Local authorities
Chinese association of artificial leather producers
Research institutes

China

Since 2017

Background

The harmful substance dimethylformamide (DMF) is still used as a solvent in the production of artificial leather. The use of DMF is particularly important in China, where about 75 percent of the world's artificial leather production takes place. For a long time, there was no alternative available on a large scale that would not impair the quality and appearance of the end product.

The aim of the ZDHC Foundation is to ban hazardous chemicals from the value chain of textiles, leather and footwear. This objective can only be achieved with all supply chain partners. That is why ZDHC has brought together all those involved in artificial leather production. Brand companies and individual manufacturers, manufacturers of artificial leather products and materials, chemical companies, local authorities, research institutions and associations are now working together to reduce the use of DMF in China. With visible success: Technical challenges in DFM substitution were solved together. The foundation has already achieved around a quarter of the artificial leather production in China with its project. The aim now is to extend the programme to other manufacturers and to increase the availability of DMF-free alternatives.

DMF - a danger to health

Artificial leather usually consists of a fabric with a polyurethane coating. In the production of this material, the harmful solvent dimethylformamide (DMF) is still used extensively.

The application is particularly significant in China, where about 75 percent of the world's artificial leather production takes place. Against this background, the Chinese government has adopted the goal of reducing the use of the solvent by 25 percent between 2016 and 2020.

Together for DMF-free production

The ZDHC Foundation has addressed this problem. ZDHC stands for "Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals". Since 2011, the foundation has been working with its own program to eliminate environmentally and health damaging chemicals from the value chain of textiles, leather and shoes. More than 110 members, including signatory brands, value creation and cooperation partners, have so far joined the association. The foundation aims to help reduce the use of DMF in artificial leather production and make DMF-free alternatives and innovations available to the market. To this end, it has brought member companies together with manufacturers of artificial leather end products and materials, chemical companies, local authorities, research institutions and associations.

In so-called industrial workshops, the partners worked out different alternatives for DMF and improved them both technically and functionally. The focus was also on the quality of the end product and the costs of replacing DMF, as the solutions had to be scalable. The cooperation also ensures that the alternative solutions reach the market faster and that the growing demand for healthier products can be better met. After the first project phase, the activities are now being extended to other manufacturers.

Innovative solutions for safe artificial leather production

The preliminary result of the project: The participants have developed a total of 15 different, health and ecologically harmless solutions for various technical problems - for example, for the crease problems in boot production. In doing so, the proportion of water-based polyurethane has risen by 120 percent compared with 2015.

This has led to a significant increase in DMF-free products on the market. Since the beginning of 2018, ZDHC has also been working with so-called production clusters in artificial leather production to distribute DMF substitutes. So far, about 25 percent of the artificial leather producers in China are involved in the project.

Solvent application and testing. © Stichting ZDHC Foundation.
Industrial workshop with presentation of DMF-free product solutions. © Stichting ZDHC Foundation.

Good for health, good for business

The DMF substitutes are not only progress in health protection. They offer artificial leather producers even more advantages. They have the opportunity to adapt early to the DMF regulations of the Chinese government and the associated changes in production. If the companies then jointly optimise the technical quality requirements, they will also save costs and time. The developed solutions are also quickly available and can be effectively scaled. Another added value of the project is that the member companies work closely with their supply chain partners, thus gaining additional insight into local production conditions.

With a larger share of DMF-free and more environmentally friendly products in their portfolio, companies can also meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly clothing. This also offers the opportunity to demonstrate their own innovative strength and has a positive impact on their reputation.

Experiences and recommendations

  • The development of substitutes for DMF is associated with a variety of technical challenges. It is therefore important to pool expertise.
  • This requires close cooperation between manufacturers and companies as well as between companies themselves.
  • The entire supply chain must be involved in this process - from the resin and polyurethane manufacturers to the end customer.

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Work properly: Environmental and social standards also for subcontractors

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Work properly: Environmental and social standards also for subcontractors

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner



Region


Project duration

Chemical and environmental management
Social standards & living wages

VAUDE
DEG
External advisors

China
Vietnam
Taiwan

2015-2017

Background

Environmental pollution and precarious employment conditions in textile production continue to pose a challenge in developing and emerging countries. Although retailers and manufacturers influence their direct suppliers, this is more difficult in the upstream production stages, where there are no direct business relationships. However, this is precisely where many resource-intensive processes that pollute the environment through the use of chemicals take place.

VAUDE entered into a development partnership with DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH - with the aim of also reaching the deeper levels of the supply chain. As part of the project, Tier 2 suppliers in Vietnam, China and Taiwan were sensitised to the importance of sustainable production and business practices in training sessions. In addition, they received training in the independent implementation of measures in operational environmental management and social standards. The focus was on cooperation with their own subcontractors.

"We have gone from being a customer to a partner to our suppliers."

Interview with Bettina Roth, Head of Quality and Chemicals Management/CSR at VAUDE

Further information

PDF: From sewing threads to jackets, Publisher: VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG

PDF: Environmental Stewardship Programm für Lieferanten, Publisher: VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

End child and forced labour in South India´s textile industry

Best Practices - Our members' projects

End child and forced labour in South India´s textile industry

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner

 

 



Region

Project duration

Social standards & living wages

terre des hommes
BMZ
CARE-T (NGO to empower women and girls in India)
C&A
C&A-Foundation

India

2016-2019

Background

"Sumangali" means "happy bride" in Tamil. According to estimates, 260,000 girls in southern India work under this cover in a very specific form of forced labour, at least 160,000 of them in the textile industry. In order to be able to pay the customary dowries, many parents send their daughters to work in spinning mills under pressure from human traffickers. Employers promise a bonus after three to five years of work, but this does not even correspond to the statutory minimum wage. The girls have to work 12- to 16-hour shifts and are not allowed to leave their cramped accommodation. Many girls are subjected to abuse and sexual abuse by the supervisors. Some of the girls see suicide as the only way out.

With the help of the BMZ and the C&A Foundation, terre des hommes fights the Sumangali system, helps the victims and empowers them to lead a self-determined life: The Indian project partner CARE-T frees girls from illegal employment contracts and provides them with psychosocial and medical care. Girls are integrated into schools or training courses and can make use of legal assistance. In order to end the Sumangali system and enforce children's and labour rights, the partners develop a code of conduct for spinning mills and conduct dialogues with employers' associations, authorities and politicians.

"The first girls are at work - new role models emerge."

Interview with Barbara Küppers, Public Affairs at terre des hommes

Video: Story of a former Sumangali worker

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c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Wolle aus der Region für nachhaltige Stoffe

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Wolle aus der Region für nachhaltige Stoffe

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner


Region

Project duration

Nachhaltige Fasern

Lebenskleidung
elbwolle

Germany

Dauerhaft

Background

Wolle ist eine tolle natürliche Funktionsfaser. Sie ist wasser- und schmutzabweisend, trocknet schnell, knittert kaum, ist selbstreinigend und nimmt fast keinen Geruch an. Doch in Deutschland werden Schafe heute statt als Lieferant dieses Rohstoffes aus ganz anderen Gründen gehalten: zum Erhalt regionaler Schafrassen und als natürliche und günstige Deichpfleger.

Denn in den vergangenen Jahren fand Wolle von deutschen Schafen kaum Abnehmer. Zu groß ist die Konkurrenz aus Australien und Neuseeland. Ein Trend, dem die Initiative elbwolle entgegentritt, indem sie der heimischen Schafwolle wieder einen Wert gibt. Sie zahlt den Schäfer*innen aus der Arche-Region Flusslandschaft Elbe südöstlich von Hamburg einen Preis von zwei Euro pro Kilo Wolle.

Die Firma Lebenskleidung, die ausschließlich Wolle von Tieren aus ökologischer Haltung nutzt, erkannte die nachhaltige Bedeutung einer regionalen Wertschöpfungskette. Das Unternehmen schätzt besonders die kurze und transparente Wertschöpfungskette, die einfache Kontrolle einer verantwortlichen Tierhaltung und die Förderung ländlicher Regionen. Aus diesen Gründen ging Lebenskleidung eine Kooperation mit elbwolle ein und verarbeitet nun Stoffe, die aus der biozertifizierten Lammwolle der Initiative gefertigt wurden.

Eine deutsche Wertschöpfungskette zu fairen Preisen

"Die Kunden fahren auf die Story ab"

Interview mit Enrico Rima, Geschäftsführer von Lebenskleidung

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Transferring the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety to other countries: the example of Pakistan

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Transferring the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety to other countries: the example of Pakistan

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner



Region

Project duration

Building safety

KiK
40 textile factories in Pakistan
External experts

Pakistan

Beginning of 2017 to end of 2020

Background

The security of factory buildings in Pakistan is often inadequate. In the worst case, earthquakes and structural defects can lead to collapses and unsafe electrical systems to fires. This initial situation is reminiscent of Bangladesh, where the "Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety" was launched in 2013 following the devastating collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in order to make substantial progress in building safety and fire protection. KiK also gained valuable experience there as a signatory to this agreement. The company wants to build on this experience to achieve improvements in building safety and fire protection in Pakistan as well.

In order to transfer the standards of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety to Pakistan, the company set up the KiK "Building Safety Program" in 2017. All about 40 Pakistani suppliers must participate. Experts and structural engineers inspect their factories. The defects found must then be rectified within fixed deadlines. The effectiveness of the measures is then checked by audits. However, as the work in Bangladesh has shown, this alone is not enough: In order to initiate systemic change, it is necessary to work closely with those responsible on site.

Durch Wissenstransfer zum Ziel

For this reason, the programme provides, among other things, for the members of the suppliers' working committees to receive training on issues relating to work and building safety. In addition, workers will be able to report grievances to an independent body via a complaints mechanism in the future.

Further project phases are planned. Through cooperation with other companies in the industry and the local supervisory authorities, the programme will go beyond pure building and occupational safety and systematically address further social and environmental issues in the future. KiK is currently looking for further project partners in Pakistan.

Das Maßnahmenprogramm auf einen Blick

Experiences and recommendations

  • Communal industry approach to exploit synergies for key procurement markets.

  • Cooperation with local supervisory authorities for better monitoring.

  • Stable supplier relationships to counter reservations and reluctance to invest.

  • Establish engineers with know-how in building safety on site.

Further information

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Workwear: more transparency in the supply chain

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Workwear: more transparency in the supply chain

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner


Region

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Project duration

Supply chain transparency

GREIFF
Manufacturer in the supply chain

Production sites in the supply chain:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Germany
Marocco
North Macedonia
Moldavia
Pakistan
Romania
Ukraine
Vietnam
Hungary
Turkey

Since 2015

Background

More and more companies are paying attention to more than just qualitative and functional aspects when equipping their employees with workwear. Increasingly, they also attach importance to sustainable production. Where and under what conditions the textiles were produced, however, is usually difficult to understand. The medium-sized, owner-managed company GREIFF Mode, a leading supplier of workwear, wants to make this transparency possible for its customers. To this end, it developed the so-called "myGREIFF-Code" in 2015. The code can be found on the labels of all permanently available articles. When customers enter the code on the computer or by app, they can trace the manufacturing process of the product back to the origin of the fibres. A comprehensive database was developed for this purpose, which was integrated into the existing merchandise management system with the aid of a software solution. Not only customers benefit from the transparency - GREIFF itself has also been given a complete overview of the entire supply chain.

Wachsender Informationsbedarf in komplexen Lieferketten

Workwear has to meet high demands: It should be particularly practical, comfortable and durable. More and more companies are also attaching importance to equipping their employees with workwear that has been produced sustainably. But it is often difficult to understand who manufactured the textiles - and under what conditions. The medium-sized, owner-managed company GREIFF Mode is one of the leading manufacturers of workwear. The company expects not only high quality from its suppliers, but also that they guarantee fair, safe and appreciative working conditions for their employees and handle energy and raw materials carefully. GREIFF's customers should also be able to understand which requirements the producers meet in the various production stages.

Umfassende Informationen auf einen Klick

In 2015, GREIFF developed the so-called "myGREIFF-Code". The code can be found on the labels of all permanently available articles. When customers enter the code on the computer or by app, they can track the manufacturing process of the product: from the fiber to the finished part. Customers can see which country the raw material comes from and where it has been processed. In some cases, they can also see which certificates the manufacturing company has. A comprehensive database was developed for this purpose, which was integrated into the existing merchandise management system with the aid of a software solution. When the database was set up, all production stages were recorded. In order to keep them up-to-date, the information is regularly requested from the suppliers and every change is recorded either at the supplier's premises or in the preliminary stages of the supply chain. GREIFF is continuously working on improving the database. In the future, customers will be able to access additional information when querying the myGREIFF-Code - including information on audits carried out or training courses in the ready-made clothing factories.

myGREIFF-Code on the label of a garment. ©GREIFF Mode GmbH & Co. KG.

Mehr Transparenz für Kund*innen und Unternehmen

The demands placed by companies on their employees' workwear are increasing - and so are the number of enquiries regarding individual production steps. Sustainable production is also an increasingly important criterion in public tenders in Germany and other EU countries. With the myGREIFF-Code, the company can answer corresponding customer enquiries and meet the increasing need for information. The code has therefore met with a consistently positive response from customers. In addition, GREIFF itself has for the first time been able to obtain a complete overview of the entire supply chain and all preliminary stages thanks to the database. Possible sustainability risks for suppliers can thus be identified and addressed more quickly.

GREIFF app that can be used to enter the myGREIFF-Code. GREIFF Mode GmbH & Co. KG.

""The myGREIFF-Code allows us to be open to our customers. The origin and production of our products can be traced online at any time."

Nicole Wagner, Corporate Responsibility at GREIFF

Experiences and recommendations

  • If you want to create transparency for your customers, you first have to ensure transparency in your business relationship with your own suppliers. This transparency requires trust on both sides - and can therefore be implemented particularly well if companies have long-standing and lasting business relationships with their suppliers. As a traditional, owner-managed company, GREIFF has always attached great importance to this. This benefited the company during the introduction of the transparency code.
  • When developing your own database, it is also important to ensure that it is integrated into the merchandise management system. Otherwise, the effort required to maintain the data is too high. The subsequent continuous data maintenance must also be taken into account during the development of the database.

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Sustainable cotton straight from the field

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Sustainable cotton straight from the field

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner



Region

Project duration

Social standards & living wages

Dibella
20 companies from the USA and Asia
Chetna Organic Farmers Association

India

End of 2016 to beginning of 2020

Background

A sustainable textile supply chain begins with an ecologically and socially responsible production of raw materials. However, it is often not easy for companies to control the conditions in the country of origin of the raw materials - because they go through many processing stages before a finished garment is in the shop. The textile company Dibella has therefore joined forces with other brands in the textile sector to form the "Chetna Coalition" in 2015: Together they purchase sustainably produced cotton in India directly from the members of the Chetna Organic Farmers Association (COFA). COFA supports the cotton producers united in this association in cultivating cotton sustainably and fulfilling the Fairtrade and GOTS requirements. Dibella and the other Chetna Coalition companies guarantee to purchase their cotton for a minimum price in the long term. In this way, they contribute to improving the local living conditions.

Je tiefer die Lieferkette, desto schwieriger die Überprüfung

A sustainable textile supply chain already fulfils ecological and social requirements during the production of the raw materials. This means that the producers receive a reasonable price for their goods and can make a living from their work. This is often not the case with cotton in particular: due to the fluctuating market price, the risks involved in cotton cultivation are very high. Often it is not possible to achieve prices that provide a livelihood. It is a particular challenge for brand and trading companies to obtain information about the conditions under which the raw materials were produced - because the raw material goes through many processing stages before the finished garment is in the shop. However, transparency is important for companies that want to take responsibility for the entire textile supply chain. Only in this way can they meet the growing demand for sustainable textiles, for example from business customers in the hotel and catering industry.

Konkretes Engagement im Ursprung der Baumwolle

The textile company Dibella, which supplies many business customers, merged with other brands in the textile sector in the "Chetna Coalition" in 2015: Together they purchase sustainably produced cotton in India directly from the members of the Chetna Organic Farmers Association (COFA), a cooperative of producers, at guaranteed minimum prices over the long term. This enables producers to improve their standard of living. Chetna organic cotton has been proven to meet Fairtrade and GOTS requirements. The textile companies of the Chetna Coalition are also committed to the sustainable development of cotton cultivation and the local growing regions. Among other things, they finance training courses on organic cotton cultivation, but also on economic issues such as management, market development and business planning. In this way, the producers are supported in their efforts to operate economically successful organic cotton cultivation and to improve their market opportunities. In addition, members of the Chetna Coalition invest in infrastructure and education, especially for girls.

Messbare Verbesserungen

More than 9,000 producers organised in the COFA now grow organic cotton on a total area of around 13,000 hectares and are Fairtrade certified. Child labour and forced labour are prohibited - compliance is monitored on an ongoing basis. A further 6,000 cotton producers are currently converting from conventional to organic cotton cultivation. In addition, the participants will adopt traditional farming practices: they will use natural fertilisers and biopesticides and only GM-free seeds. In this way they protect biodiversity on the cultivated land. In a training centre built in 2017, 70 percent of which Dibella financed, around 5,000 producers are trained each year in sustainable cotton cultivation. Thanks to all these measures, the harvest yield was increased: In 2007, around 170 to 220 kilograms of cotton were produced on 4,000 square meters of arable land; today, the same area produces 270 to 340 kilograms of cotton.

 

Social projects have also been successful. At a girls' school in the state of Telangana, many schoolgirls had dropped out because they had to travel long distances to school and lacked transport. To remedy this situation, Dibella together with two of his customers, donated around 70 bicycles. This simple measure alone has reduced the school drop-out rate from around 50 percent to less than 5 percent.

Employees of Chetna Organic and Dibella Managing Director Ralf Hellmann on an organic cotton field in India.
Schoolgirls in a Dibella-supported girls' school in India. ©Dibella GmbH.

"The partnership with Dibella has helped Chetna Organic in many ways: from increasing the yield of organic and Fairtrade cotton and selling at a higher premium to Fairtrade and social premiums from Dibella and its partner companies. These premiums are then invested in school education programmes, infrastructure development and other community development programmes."

Arun Ambatipudi, Managing Director Chetna Organic Farmers Association

Minimieren von Risiken, neue Chancen für's Geschäft

By directly purchasing sustainably produced cotton, Dibella can minimise ecological and human rights risks in its supply chain. In addition, the purchase of Chetna cotton also has a positive effect on the company's reputation: Thanks to direct cooperation with local producers, the company is able to report first-hand on the positive effects in the growing regions. This credible commitment also convinces the company's customers, the textile service and hotel owners.

Dibella in conversation with organic cotton producers of the Chetna Organic Farmers Association. ©Dibella GmbH.

Experiences and recommendations

  • A project like this is particularly suitable for medium-sized companies. While the Chetna Coalition also has larger customers, it is ensured that they do not buy the bulk of the harvest. Otherwise, the producers could become dependent. 
  • A challenge is the exchange between the member companies and the producers' association, because the cooperative has no special staff to communicate its work and progress. The flow of information is therefore difficult and an exchange is usually only possible on site.
  • It often takes a long time for Chetna Coalition textile companies to receive evidence of the concrete use of their financial resources for education and infrastructure, such as final reports or impact assessments.
  • For this reason, it is recommended to appoint a coordinator on site. This coordinator should act as a link between the producer cooperative and the companies, report on current developments in the cooperative and check the documentation.

Further information

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

The world's first jeans that stay in the cycle

Best Practices - Our members' projects

The world's first jeans that stay in the cycle

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner

 

 

Region


Project duration

Circular fashion & sustainable products

C&A
Fashion for Good
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
Manufacturer in Bangladesh

Bangladesh (manufacturing)
Europe, Brazil (sales)

Since 2018

Background

With the world's population growing by 1.5 billion over the next 11 years, we are headed for the exhaustion of natural resources. One solution is the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principle: Where possible, production should only use products and materials that are harmless to health and the environment and therefore, can be returned to the production cycle in the sense of a closed-loop economy. Accordingly, considerations of reuse and recycling are already taken into account during the design phase. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has developed the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) CertifiedTM product programme, which evaluates and certifies textile products and materials with regard to closed life cycles.

In 2017, C&A with Fashion for Good was the first fashion retailer worldwide to produce T-shirts with the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold certificate. In 2018, they achieved this with a more complex product: the first ever denim jeans under Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold certification was produced. Beforehand, new suppliers and factories had been selected and materials and components individually analysed, certified and improved. The jeans are available at C&A since 2018.

Kreisverkehr statt Einbahnstraße: Der Cradle-to-Cradle-Ansatz

By 2030, the world population will reach nine billion people. To meet the needs of a growing population, nature's limits will continue to be strained. Resource efficiency and sustainable environmental management are therefore important issues for the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.

One solution is the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principle. In this approach, reuse and recycling are already taken into account in the design of new products. In textile production, for example, where possible only materials that are harmless to both health and the environment are used. This includes the use of chemicals, water and energy in production, material recycling and social conditions for all parties involved. This results in products that can be returned to the production cycle again and again, so that no more waste is generated and valuable resources are preserved.

C&A wants to normalise this approach along its entire value chain. In order to realise this claim, C&A has entered into a partnership with the Fashion for Good initiative, which was founded by the C&A Foundation. In addition, C&A was the first textile retailer in the world to award produce T-shirts and jeans with the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM gold certification. The product standard Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTMdeveloped by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, is the only standard in the world that has set itself the goal of holistically evaluating the circulatory capacity of a product. All aspects of product manufacturing are taken into account - from the procurement of raw materials to the use of chemicals, water or energy in production to the social conditions in the value chain.

In 2017, C&A and Fashion for Good initially commissioned two Indian-based clothing manufacturers to develop and produce two T-shirts with Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold certification. In 2018, the development and production of a more complex product - denim jeans - followed in close cooperation with a manufacturer in Bangladesh.

Ein Ansatz, der sich auszahlt

By the end of 2018, C&A had produced more than two million garments with Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM certification of a wide range of products. This has set incentives for imitation in the industry.

The project has been well received - not only by C&A employees. NGOs, universities and the media have also responded positively to the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM certification. The fact that C&A customers appreciate it is reflected in the success of C&A's more sustainable #WearTheChange collection.

The approach is therefore well suited for sustainability communication. The accompanying media campaign positions C&A as an innovative company with a high level of responsibility for people and the environment.

"Our approach is based on the idea that we must take our industry from a model of 'making, wearing and disposing' to a model in which every garment product is designed for its next life. We call on the fashion industry to join us in changing the way we make jeans. Follow our example and use the insights we have gained."

Jeffrey Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer, C&A

Experiences and recommendations

  • One of the biggest challenges was the complexity of the supply chain. C&A had to convince everyone one of their suppliers of this project.
  • The project made some demands on the suppliers involved. Basically, they should be interested in sustainability and have a good track record in social and environmental management. Innovative thinking and the willingness to invest resources in the project are also important.
  • The analysis of the numerous chemicals used in production was also complex. Individual components such as biological sewing thread had to be specially optimised.
  • A further prerequisite for the success of the project is to become active on a holistic basis. In the Cradle to Cradle philosophy this is summarised in the so-called "Five Goods": good materials, good economy, good energy, good water and good life.
  • C&A wants to motivate other companies to bring recyclable products onto the market. This is why C&A and Fashion for Good have published a toolbox. On the one hand, this toolbox contains the world's first guide to the production of cradle-to-cradle certified denim jeans. Secondly, an "almanac" specifies all materials and ingredients that are currently Cradle to Cradle certified and available on the market. Both documents can be downloaded from the C&A case study page of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles website.

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Focus on living wages

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Focus on living wages

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner

 

 


Region

Project duration

Social standards & living wages

Brands Fashion
Melawear
3Freunde
Fairtrade
Six textile factories

India (Northern India & Tamil Nadu)

Autumn 2016 to February 2020

Background

The new Fairtrade Textile Standard aims to improve working conditions and wages throughout the entire textile processing chain. The aim is to guarantee living wages throughout the supply chain and to impose the same environmental, occupational safety and social requirements on all suppliers. As part of the "Piloting the Fairtrade Textile Standard" programme, the companies Brands Fashion, Melawear and 3Freunde have been working in India since August 2017 to achieve this goal: they want not only their manufacturing companies, but also their suppliers (such as ginning, spinning, weaving and dyeing mills) certified according to the Fairtrade Textile Standard. The particular challenge: As the first standard ever, the textile standard defines a fixed time frame of six years within which a living wage must be achieved. The project is financially supported by GIZ as part of the develoPPP.de programme. 

Vom Wissen zum Handeln - wie der Fairtrade-Textilstandard Arbeiter*innen unterstützt

Interview with Rabea Schafrick and Henning Siedentopp

What was the experience of the participating companies in the first year? What challenges do they face? We asked two project partners:

Rabea Schafrick is sustainability manager at Brands Fashion. The company develops and produces high-quality and fashionable workwear as well as fashion collections. The aim is to produce as many collections as possible from sustainable materials such as organic cotton.

Henning Siedentopp is Managing Director of Melawear. Melawear stands for fair and ecological shirts, hoodies, backpacks and sneakers produced in India.

What is the aim of the pilot programme?

Henning Siedentopp (Melawear): "Existing certifications such as Fairtrade Cotton and GOTS do not sufficiently cover the issue of 'living wages'. With the Fairtrade Textile Standard we want to close this gap - and work together with our suppliers and their subcontractors in India to find viable solutions for structural change".

Rabea Schafrick (Brands Fashion):"In doing so, we place a central focus on strengthening the rights of employees. We want to support the establishment of democratically elected working committees in the factories. This is because they can lobby for wage increases. Both issues are closely interlinked."

Living wages are much debated. What does your approach look like?

Henning Siedentopp: "Basically, we are in an ongoing discussion between politics and civil society about what actually constitutes a living wage - this discussion is also taking place in India. This is where we come in: Fairtrade calculates a sectoral living wage on the basis of existing tariffs negotiated with local trade unions. Where no collective bargaining targets exist, regional benchmarks are determined. We have the right to raise wages to a considerable extent - voluntarily, without statutory requirements."

How do you proceed concretely?

Rabea Schafrick:"Fairtrade and its local partners first determine the status quo in so-called 'pre-assessments'. In workshops and training sessions, concrete questions are then addressed together with workers and management. For example: What are the employees' wishes for the management? What makes a good work environment? The aim is to create an awareness of fair wages and to sensitise and educate the workers."

Henning Siedentopp: "We don't predefine the wage levels for our Indian partners. We point out the difference between the minimum wage and the living wage to them - this difference, by the way, varies according to the individual stages of the value chain. Fairtrade and its partners train the workers' committees and explain to them how to calculate their monthly fixed costs, for example for rent, food, and social security contributions, and how to accumulate savings for emergency situations. However, Fairtrade is not involved in wage negotiations with the management, since the aim is to promote the independence and autonomy of the working committees."

Workers during a training in a ready-made clothing factory (May 2018)
Workers during an introductory training of the Faitrade Textile Programme

How do suppliers react?

Rabea Schafrick:"Many suppliers are initially sceptical. One of the first factories in the project was a dyeing plant, the customers of which usually had only few requirements for compliance with social standards. As a result, they had little experience with the subject there. At the beginning of the project, they did not take this demand from Germany very seriously. We had to do a lot of convincing work, which makes the project a real pioneer task for us.

In general, we can say that in the final stages of the value chain, garment assembly, cooperation with suppliers is still relatively easy, as we maintain close and long-term cooperations here. But the deeper you go into the supply chain, the smaller our share of the production volume. This makes it all the more difficult for us to convince our suppliers. If, for example, a dyeing plant only receives ten percent of its orders from us, the scepticism is naturally higher than in a garment assembly plant that works much more closely with us.

These suppliers in particular are often afraid of alienating other customers - i.e. of losing customers who do not value living wages at their suppliers. Therefore, we hope that other textile companies will join us, because: The more participate, the faster we will get fair wages."

This sounds like a challenging task. What is your success to date?

Rabea Schafrick:"In 2018, a total of two garment assembly companies will be certified. This means that we have achieved one subgoal. By the end of the project period, four more factories in the supply chains of the three project partners should have been added. And we are already receiving feedback today that the desired change in awareness is actually taking place step by step in the factories. A more intensive dialogue is taking place between employees and management, workers know more about their own rights - and last but not least, this often has a positive effect on the economic success of the company. In the training sessions we attended, we were able to observe how the participants became increasingly self-confident and came up with their own suggestions and ideas. Admittedly, these are soft factors so far, but certification will ultimately measure progress.

It is also clear that this task we have taken on is a huge one and ties up many personnel resources. Without the financial support from the GIZ, it would have been difficult for a medium-sized company like us to realize this."

What added value do you as a company get from this commitment?

Henning Siedentopp: "On the one hand, we strengthen the relationship with our producers, as we actively participate in improving the quality of life of employees in India. On the other hand, we are also raising awareness here in Europe that clothing has a price that goes beyond the current market prices - and thus also promote acceptance among customers."

Rabea Schafrick:"We now understand better what it takes to implement social standards across the entire value chain. Suppliers give us insight into their purchase prices, their internal payroll systems and local social security policies, which requires a high level of trust and accessibility. We have also received a lot of positive feedback: Our customers are clearly aware of our commitment."

What are your recommendations to the members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles?

Rabea Schafrick:"To enter into active dialogue with your suppliers. Create transparency about supply chains and prices. Calculate together how living wages can be achieved and what price difference it really makes in the end."

Finally, please complete these sentences:

In 2030, living wages in the textile value chain...

Rabea Schafrick: "are reality in not all, but a lot of countries around the world."

In 2030, customers say about conventional textiles...

Henning Siedentopp: "...that they are intolerable."

In 2030, you will tell your children...

Henning Siedentopp: "...that we were the first to act and to actively pay their producers more money for the textiles."

Rabea Schafrick: "... that the beginning was difficult, but that it was worth pushing the issue of living wages."

"The Fairtrade Textile Standard provides a good basis for workers in textile companies to be able to negotiate their own wages and to know what their work is worth. Achieving this requires joint effort."

Rapha Breyer, Business Development Textiles,
Fairtrade Germany

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Responsibility also for early childhood education

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Responsibility also for early childhood education

ALDI SÜD and ALDI Nord get involved in textile factories in Bangladesh

Überblick

Field of action

Project partner

 

 

Region

Project duration

Due diligence in the area of women's and children's rights

ALDI SÜD
ALDI Nord
Phulki (NGO for childcare & early childhood education)
Seven textile factories

Bangladesh

February 2018 to July 2019

Background

Mothers and children are particularly vulnerable in the world of work. Almost every country in the world has legal regulations, such as paid maternity leave and the provision of childcare facilities at the workplace. This is also the case for Bangladeshi textile factories, but they are often overwhelmed by the implementation. Parents therefore rarely trust the quality of care, space or play. This poses enormous difficulties for working mothers and is an additional burden. This is why ALDI SÜD and ALDI Nord are committed to improving the quality of childcare as well as the educational and welfare opportunities of the children of factory workers in the long term.

The establishment of Childcare Center Management Committees and professional training for educators, nurses and caregivers will help seven pilot factories in the country improve their facilities and enable them to provide high-quality childcare.

Bildung, Sicherheit und Gesundheit in der Kinderbetreuung

Further information

PDF: Aldi Factory Advancement Project PLUS, published by: Aldi

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn

mail@textilbuendnis.com
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2019 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles