Zuinig of the environment.
Sustainable raw materials.
We manufacture our products in a responsible way. We are zuinig of the resources that we depend on. And zuinig of the people who work for us, the environment, and society. That's why we are increasingly using sustainable materials. That means we work with raw materials grown in environmentally friendly ways, or residual materials from previous production runs. The sustainability of the most common materials in our collection of 2020, including our informative tool on how to define a sustainable material, can be read here. You can recognize our sustainable products by the green ECO label. Products produced with at least 50% sustainable materials carry this label.
Cotton is our main raw material. We use it for our underwear, our basics, our baby bodysuits and our household textiles. More and more, we are choosing organic cotton. For example, through the Global Organic Textile Standard. GOTS is the world's leading label for organic textiles. This means that the use of natural materials, from fiber to finished product, is strictly controlled during the growing and processing stages, and that we don't use harmful pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Better for our world and for our customers, but also for the farmers who grow our cotton. The GOTS label also guarantees good working conditions for the people who manufacture our products.
To make our textile collection more sustainable, we started purchasing sustainable cotton via the Better Cotton (BC) in 2015. This is a collaboration between development agencies, environmental organizations and the business community. Better Cotton helps farmers to grow their cotton in better ways. For example by making more efficient use of water, pesticides and chemicals. They also receive help to improve working conditions and continue to develop. Better Cotton is not directly traceable to the end product. That is because the companies that buy Better Cotton from BC-certified farmers weave the cotton together with regular cotton. This makes the process simpler and keeps costs down. In 2021, more than 45% of cotton we bought originated from BCI farmers.
When a product is made from recycled cotton or recycled polyester, this means that residual materials from previous production were used as raw materials. The residual material is reduced to fiber and spun into new yarn.
When a product contains sustainable viscose, this means the fibers are made from FSC wood. This wood comes from sustainably managed forests where the habitat of plants and animals is protected and the rights of local people and forest workers are guaranteed. Additionally, the chemicals used to produce the yarn are reused so they don't end up contaminating the environment.
Sustainable on the go.
To reduce our impact on the environment, we have been keeping an eye on our energy consumption,
transportation and product distribution for years. This fits with our Zeeman culture: we like to get things done without being complicated about it. So when we see that something could be better in the area of sustainability, we tackle it ourselves right away.
To reduce our impact on the environment, we are smart about the transportation and distribution of our products. Transportation from the country of origin to the Netherlands virtually always takes place by ship. This is less harmful than transport by airplane. From Rotterdam - where the sea containers arrive from East Asia – we ship our products to the transshipment terminal in Alphen aan den Rijn via inland waterways. The terminal is located close to our distribution center. This is an environmentally friendly alternative to road transport. We also want to be at the forefront of logistics management. This enables us to systematically drive fewer miles by loading our trucks as full as possible. As a result, a store only needs to be stocked twice a week. The fewer rides we make, the less exhaust we release into the air.
A zuinig Service Office.
On the roof of our distribution center lies a large solar array. With 8,654 solar panels, we generated 2.1 megawatts of electricity in 2019. This is sufficient to meet the energy needs of our service office and distribution center.
In 2018, we eliminated disposable water bottles. We signed the Plastic Free Pledge, joining Dopper's PET-Free Movement. We switched out plastic water bottles for sustainable Dopper drinking bottles. To encourage drinking tap water, we provide bottle-filling points at the service office so that everyone can fill up their reusable water bottle at any time.
Sustainable in our stores.
At the end of 2019, 67% of our stores had LED lighting. This means we achieved our target of 65%. By the end of 2020, this should rise to 75%. LED lighting uses less than a third of the energy required by traditional fluorescent tubes. The 860 stores with LED lighting thus result in a lower energy bill, being good for the environment and our budget.
About 45% less kWh used at each store compared to fluorescent lighting.
LED tubes last over four times longer than ordinary fluorescent tubes, among other things because they are made of durable, recyclable synthetic materials.
We have been separating plastic, paper and other waste in our stores for many years now. All packaging is recovered, and everything is recycled at the distribution center. Special presses are used to prepare the paper and plastic for reuse.
Environmental pollution by factories
The biggest environmental impact of our manufacturing lies deeper in our supply chain. Namely, where our products are washed, dyed and printed. These are also referred to as the ‘wet’ processes. In order to tackle this problem, we drew up a roadmap in 2018 from which various actions emerged. In 2019, we issued a self-assessment questionnaire to our suppliers to help us understand which processes are taking place directly at the factories we work with and which processes are being outsourced. Often the wet processes are outsourced to factories with which we don’t have a direct partnership, which makes it more difficult to exert influence. We have asked all dyers and laundries to complete the self-assessment questionnaire. This questionnaire consisted of general questions about the facility, such as address details and the name of the person responsible for environmental and chemical management. But also substantive questions that help us to assess the environmental impact. For example, we mapped out whether the facilities measure their water consumption and whether they use a water purification system to clean the water. In addition, we asked whether the facilities have environmental audit reports or other environmental certificates. In 2020, we will verify the data we've received and draw up action plans for each facility to reduce the negative impact on the environment where necessary.
Together with IDH-Trade, a sustainable trade initiative, we have conducted an environmental audit at a denim factory in Pakistan. This audit revealed which water and energy-saving measures the factory can take, like for example insulation, boiler leaks and energy-saving lighting. The good thing about an energy audit is that, in addition to a positive impact on the environment, it also has a cost-saving effect. In 2021 we want to ask all our suppliers in Pakistan to undergo this audit.
Below is the denim manufacturer's feedback on the audit
In my opinion it was good exercise though I have not yet compared the financial benefits and exact energy savings but I can say it is beneficial as it gave me a sense of security as well since professional team was conducting audit and I got a detailed report of all the departments Electrical Load analysis and energy losses, we implemented all corrective plans they suggested.
The manufacture of our products depends on certain types of chemicals. They are used to grow raw materials, such as cotton, and to clean machines during production processes such as printing and dyeing. We want all substances used to make our products to be safe for people and the environment. That is why we have maintained a Restricted Substances List (RSL) since 2011. This list contains the limits set for chemicals in finished products. In 2019, we further expanded this list to include chemicals that may no longer be used in the production process because they are unsafe for the people who work with them or may cause damage to the environment. Our new Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) can be found on our website. In 2020 we have focused on building capacity and training our suppliers in the responsible use of chemicals. An environmental guidebook was published describing topics as chemical management, water use, wastewater, energy use. Based on this environmental guidebook we created our own Environmental requirements document.