Green-Trend Conquers Outdoor-Branch

As the first business of the industry, the German manufacturer of outdoor products has successfully carried out the Biodiversity-Check of the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign. The level of existing comprehensive criteria for environmentally friendly products will be further developed. VAUDE sets, once again, the standards for the European outdoor industry.

VAUDE climbs as the outdoor business with the most
stringent "eco"-citeria of the industry
Photo: Attenberger/VAUDE

Most businesses, by now, publish a sustainability report. However, when does a business really produce sustainably and which criteria must be fulfilled for that?

VAUDE sat down severe guidelines here and communicates them by means of their own quality seal, "Green Shape" for products, which are especially produced environmentally friendly. Only products that fulfil an "Eco Claim" objective; meaning, at least 90 percent out of organic cotton, recycled materials or existing of wood fibre Tencel (cellulosic fibres) or is coloured with the environmentally friendly colour procedure of VAUDE eColour, and such products, that correspond to the worldwide most strict textile environment standards bluesign, may carry the Green Shape seal. Therefore, VAUDE has the most severe criteria for "organic"-products in the entire outdoor industry.

VAUDE criteria are transparent

The Green Shape pyramid of VAUDE helps consumers to understand the criteria for organic products
Green Shape serves as guidance and is subject to a strict estimation system for materials and technologies. For this bluesign distinction, VAUDE uses the independent, most stringent worldwide standards for environmental protection, consumer and labour safety, as well as the VAUDE-own standard Eco Claim.

Products that are certified bluesign are produced exclusively after unobjectionably hygienic procedures and are environmentally friendly in the highest measures. The high-pollutant textiles guarantee, especially allergy sufferers and people with very sensitive skin, good compatibility. In order to fulfil the bluesign-Standard, all environment relevant production aspects are critically reviewed and optimized: material use, energy, water, sewage, exhaust, noise, rubbish and the contact with dangerous materials.

While bluesign is an independent standard, whose criteria VAUDE uses and its compliance are externally reviewed, VAUDE determines the remaining Green Shape criteria firmly after "best available technology".

Up to 50 percent of the energy in the manufacture process can be saved through the recycling of materials. This reduces CO2-Emissions, saves fossilized raw materials and avoids rubbish.

Chemical pesticides and mineral fertilisers as well as on genetic engineering are forgone through the use of organic cotton. Thereby, fewer pollutants arrive into the material, which leads to a non-irritating textile, and above all, burdens the environment less!

The Tencel fibre consists of certified Eucalyptus wood. Eucalyptus grows quickly and requires neither genetic engineering nor artificial irrigation. The production circulation is closed in itself: water and solvent are recovered completely. Tencel is 100 percent biodegradable.

EColour is the environmentally friendly variant of the yarn colouring with which the colour pigments are added directly in the spinning process. Altogether, emitted CO2 is 50 percent less. In addition, 90 percent water and 63 percent chemicals in comparison with the conventional fleeting-colours are saved.

With "On the Way" –products, VAUDE introduced an "intermediate stage" to the estimation of products, which are in partial aspects "more ecological" than other products, but don't fulfil the strict Green Shape-criteria. These goods were also marked, for example, declared PVC free, but not as "organic products".

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

The entire manufacturing process goes under the motto, "reduce – reuse – recycle". "Reduce" means, for example, the reduction of the material consumption through optimized tailored leadership. Previously used metals and plastic coated eyelets are replaced by embroidery.

Through "re-use" the equipment can be set in place again even after a long time. The product is then given a second life, for example, as in second-hand-clothing.

After the principle "Cradle to Cradle", the products will be recycled and led back again into the reusable material circulation. All of the used materials are recyclable, from the sorted main materials to corduroy and of the polyurethane-like membrane, "Sympatex-Membran". Up to now, the principle has been carried out, however, only in few niches of the outdoor industry and is not transferable on all Green Shape products. The collaboration of 2010 started in February with Sympatex, the manufacturer of a completely recyclable and PTFE free membrane, is an important component of the ecological production manner.

Closing the loop

The good news: VAUDE already established the ECOLOG recycling network for the withdrawal and recycling of polyester products in 1994. The bad news: only a few customers used the ECOLOG services. The recycling network is, therefore, continued not alone. Instead VAUDE opened its ECOLOG-concept for the entire outdoor industry in that infrastructures, experiences and working hours are brought into the "end-of-product-life”-working group of the European Outdoor Group (EOG). It is the goal of jointly developing an "end-of-product-Life”-solution for the entire industry.

Engagement is rewarded

The strong engagement pays off. At the athletic ware - trade fair ISPO in Munich, VAUDE was immediately considered for two honours for its sustainability engagement. In the category Accessories, VAUDE received the Eco Responsibility Award 2011 for the tent, Blue One as the most environmentally friendly product. The tent material consists of 65 percent organic cotton and 35 percent recycled polyester that is won from used PET bottles. Therewith, fossilized raw materials and up to 50 percent energy and CO2-Emissionen are saved in the manufacturing.

In the category, Company Ecolution, VAUDE was the first business able to win the title as the most sustainable business. The establishment of the jury: "VAUDEs product grouping and overlapping functions strategy offers the user sustainable products in all categories with high quality and large functionality". The winter-garments-collection 2011/2012 shown on the ISPO can already show 50 percent Green Shape-products.

Hilke Patzwall, VAUDE, presenting the schedule for the conversion of the biodiversity measures in the frame of Biodiversity-Checks at the workshop of the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign in Frankfurt.

Hilke Patzwall, VAUDE, presenting the schedule for the
conversion of the biodiversity measures in the frame
of Biodiversity-Checks at the workshop of the European
Business & Biodiversity Campaign in Frankfurt
Photo: Bettina Heimer, Association for Sustainable
Environment Management (VNU)

"Our goal is, to become objectively Europe's most environmentally friendly outdoor outfitter. In the future, ecological products will take on an even higher status and will be judged with even more demanding criteria. The reaction of the customers strengthens VAUDE to consistently go on this way," from Hilke Patzwall, the VAUDE environmental delegate.

With the goal of expanding the Green Shape-share in the entire collection of currently 30 percent to 75 percent in five years, in the children's collection even up 100 percent, VAUDE wants to advance a large step on the way to Europe's most environmentally friendly outdoor outfitter. "For us as an outdoor manufacturer, the support of biodiversity belongs to the most important business principles", strengthens Hilke Patzwall. "Therefore, we are happy that with the Biodiversity-Check of the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign we could profit from a valuable instrument for ecological production manners".

More information on VAUDE Green Shape you may find here

Read more about the activities on the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign here

Sven Stöbener, European Business & Biodiversity Campaign

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