Resources and materials from responsible sources
Responsibility for the social and environmental impact of the production of our goods is not limited solely to the final production stage. The resources and materials used in our products are to be harvested and processed in a socially and environmentally friendly, and sustainable, way. We have already made great strides for textiles out of natural fibres and products made of wood. In the future, we will develop eco-friendly solutions for synthetic fibres and, further down the road, we hope to establish value-added cycles.
We strongly believe that people and the environment must not be harmed in the farming or extraction of the raw materials used in our products. The livelihoods of future generations must also be preserved. The extraction of raw materials for our products uses valuable resources such as water and land, with effects on humans and the environment. Therefore, we are constantly increasing the share of materials from responsible sources. For this purpose we work together with independent standards organizations and reliable partners. For materials where no recognised certificates or accreditations exist, such as leather or animal fibres, we jointly create innovative approaches with our suppliers.
Responsible extraction of raw materials and production processes do not cover the entire life cycle of a product: A product, which the consumer no longer has any use for, is not waste but, rather, contains valuable recyclable materials that should be used for new products. The aim is, thus, not only to ensure that fewer raw materials are required to manufacture our products, but also that recyclables are reused whenever possible. Such an approach reduces waste and increases resource efficiency. In 2016, we will begin to offer more products made from recycled materials. In addition, we want to make it easier to recycle our goods by, for example, avoiding composite materials. Implementing these ambitious plans is associated with major challenges: on the one hand, many recycled materials do not meet our stringent toxicity restrictions; on the other hand, changes in the product design must not compromise the functionality or customer experience. In addition, for many product groups, recycling processes with high quality material output are still lacking. In 2015, we plan to launch a pilot project to develop viable solutions to these challenges for synthetic fibres and plastic materials.
The staff responsible for these processes work within the core business unit. By setting target agreements, we create incentives across teams for more sustainable product solutions.
Cotton: Third Largest Buyer of Organic Cotton Worldwide
It is estimated that over 100 million people worldwide rely on cotton growing for their livelihood. We want to help ensure that these farmers will be able to do so in the future, with minimal impact on the environment. To reach this goal, we are partnering with internationally recognised standard-setting organizations. We are a member of the non-profit organisation Textile Exchange (publisher of the OCS 100 / OCS Blended organic cotton standards), which promotes sustainable products and processes in the textile industry. Since 2008, we have regularly offered textiles made of organic cotton. In 2013 and 2014, entire lingerie collections were made of certified organic cotton. We are now the world’s third largest supplier with just under 6,000 tonnes of organic cotton used, according to the 2015 "Organic Cotton Market Report" published by Textile Exchange. According to the report, Tchibo is also the fourth fastest company worldwide to transition from conventional to organic cotton (the so-called “Race to the Top”). We also support the Aid for Trade Foundation’s Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) Initiative by purchasing CmiA cotton and partnering on education projects in Benin and Zambia (Educational projects in the source countries). In addition, we are a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which works on a broad scale for the transition to responsible cotton farming.
In 2014, 75% of our cotton textiles had been accredited or certified by one of these organisations, up from 40% in 2012. For 2015, we are planning to increase this share even further to over 85%.
Our concern is not only the sustainability of the raw cotton material but also the entire cotton manufacturing process. This includes, for example, the dyeing and printing of fabrics and the use of accessories. To address these concerns, we were certified in 2014 according to the stringent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which includes all processes from extraction of organically grown natural resources, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing, up to transparent labelling.
Viscose: Sourcing the Wood-Based Fibre Sustainably
The sustainability of viscose, which is used in some of our textiles and consists primarily of wood, must be guaranteed. The production of viscose requires large amounts of water and chemicals. This is why we increasingly buy our cellulose fibres from the company Lenzing. Lenzing not only sources its wood for the fibre from responsibly managed sources, but also upholds high environmental standards in the production process, based on the requirements of the EU Ecolabel. In the fiscal year 2014, 45% of the cellulose fibres used in our product lines Tencel and Modal came from Lenzing. For 2015, we will be able to increase the share to around 60%.
Wood and Paper from Responsible Sources
To preserve forests for future generations, we monitor that the wood and pulp (the main component of paper) in our goods come from responsibly managed forests. Timber from illegal logging or other unwanted sources are not allowed in our products. The "Forest Tracing System" (FTS), which we developed together with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), helps to ensure that all the wood we use comes from legal sources.
We are also working to expand the share of wood and paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®). Among other things, the FSC® certification guarantees that wood or pulp originate from forests that are managed under the strict guidelines of the FSC. In 2014, approximately 50% of our wood and paper products were FSC®-certified; in 2015 it will be around 40%.
We will not reach our goal to increase the share of FSC®-certified products to 60%, as many of our wood products are of European origin, where the certification is not widespread. The responsible sourcing of these products is guaranteed instead through our FTS.
As part of our overall commitment, we are a member of the WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), which is committed to preserving forests as important habitats for animals and plants, and as a sink for the greenhouse gas CO₂ (Resource efficiency).
Leather: Chrome-Free Tanning
Leather hides are tanned to make them more durable. Nearly all leather products worldwide are tanned using chrome, which takes little time and ensures excellent quality. However, in the process, chromium VI-compounds, which are harmful to human health and the environment, may be formed and released. That is why we are working together with partners who use chromium-free tanning process, without sacrificing the quality of the leather. Our goal is to only offer high-quality leather products that were tanned completely chrome-free. About 90% of the leather products for sale in 2015 already meet this requirement. We are well on the way to transitioning completely to chrome-free tanning of leather.
Animal Welfare: No Fur or Angora
We take animal welfare very seriously: Nine years ago we banned fur products from our assortment. This also applies to so-called embellishments, such as coat collars. To reaffirm this commitment, in 2013 we became a member of the international Fur Free Retailer Program of the animal welfare organization Four Paws. In early 2014, we also decided to exclude products with angora, which comes from shearing angora rabbits. According to research by the animal rights organization PETA, unacceptable practices occur on some Asian angora farms. After a thorough review of the shearing process and of the housing conditions at our manufacturers, we could not detect any unacceptable practices. We nevertheless decided to no longer carry angora products, as we could not guarantee the long-term animal welfare of the angora rabbit.
Functional and Eco-Friendly Weatherproofing with Ecorepel®
Outdoor textiles are often weatherproofed using environmentally harmful perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Ecorepel®, through impregnation of textiles, achieves the same optimum weather protection, without the use of unwanted chemicals. All of our water-repellent textiles are coated with ecorepel®.
Tchibo Favourites: Our Permanent Collection Becomes Sustainable
Since September 2014, we offer a permanent collection of “Tchibo Favourites”, which includes around 300 of the classic products that our customers know and love. This assortment, in addition to the assortment that changes on a weekly basis, is to include sustainable goods. The materials used in both collections are essentially the same. Thus, the sustainability of the cotton, wood and viscose used in our Favourite Pieces is also a focus of our work as we become a sustainable business.
Sustainable Resources: Healthy Ecosystems Thrive on Diversity
A prerequisite for sustainable raw materials are functioning ecosystems. We thus emphasise their protection throughout our supply chain. In support of this commitment, we signed the Leadership Declaration of the cross-sector initiative, Biodiversity in Good Company, in 2012. We thereby committed to, among other things, protect biodiversity in our environmental management system, and define and implement concrete biodiversity targets together with our suppliers. We are convinced that these efforts are an important step towards protecting biodiversity, contributing to the long-term availability of renewable resources, and to supporting our business.