Down is an important material for Berghaus because of its excellent insulation properties when high performance standards are required. We do use synthetic insulation in selected products, but down remains the preferred choice of many of our athletes, adventurers and customers.
The use of down is not without controversy because of the possibility of animal welfare issues in the supply chain, namely live plucking and force-feeding of birds.
At Berghaus we are working in partnership with our down supplier to ensure that these practices are not employed with the sources of the down used in our products.
We have one down processing supplier, who in turn sources duck and goose down from Eastern Europe and China. The processing supplier is independently audited by IDFL (International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory).
However, we want to know more about the source of the down that we use and are working with the processing supplier to understand more. It is our intention that by the end of 2016, we will have independent certification of our down supply chain, working with EOG (European Outdoor Group) who are working towards a single industry standard that is cost efficient and is acceptable to both businesses and NGOs.
The use of quality leathers to support the comfort and performance requirements of our footwear is extremely important to Berghaus.
The tanning and leather industry is energy and resource intensive and includes the use of many chemicals. Because of the potential impact upon the environment, it is important to us that we partner with suppliers who strive to continually reduce their environmental impacts, whilst being able to deliver the high standard of product that we require.
From SS15, we are moving to source 100% of our footwear leather from Pittards who are part of the LWG (Leather Working Group). The objective of this multi-stakeholder group is to develop and maintain a protocol that assesses the environmental compliance and performance capabilities of tanners and promotes sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry.
Read more about the LWG here: www.leatherworkinggroup.com
PFCs – PFOS and PFOA
Ensuring that our products are waterproof to the exacting performance standards our users expect is very important to Berghaus. The DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatments we use include the use of PFCs (Per-fluorinated compounds) due to their superior water and oil repellency properties.
As we became aware of the potential negative impacts of PFCs we moved our DWRs from the longer chain, ‘C8’, type chemistry to the shorter chain, ‘C6’, chemistry. This has allowed us to eliminate PFOS and control PFOA to the European regulatory standard of 1.0 µg/m 2 in textiles; two by-products of the longer chain chemistry highlighted as being of greatest concern.
We are also aware of the broader impact the textile industry has on water quality, particularly in the regions where most products are manufactured, so we work to ensure we partner with the most responsible textile mills in the industry through the bluesign® system. bluesign® is an industry leading initiative which works with chemical suppliers, textile mills and component manufacturers to eliminate harmful substances from the supply chain; ensuring that products are safe for consumers, workers and the environment. The bluesign® system substances list strictly controls the use of PFCs in production.
We continue to work in partnership with our fabric suppliers to develop PFC-free options and will roll the options out into our styles where we find solutions which perform to a satisfactory level. We have made additional progress here with the first options being available on the market in 2016.
Minimising the use of raw materials is important to Berghaus, thus we seek out opportunities to include recycled components when practicable. One of these areas is the use of fleece made out of Post Consumer Recycled plastic bottles.
Our partner in this initiative is Polartec and we currently have 10 styles using this recycled fabric.
We are working on expanding this initiative to cover a greater percentage of our range from AW15 with other fabric suppliers.
Paper and Packaging
At Berghaus we use paper in many ways during the course of our normal business practices – in our offices, hang tag and swing ticket labels, product packaging, transport packaging and marketing materials such as catalogues and range guides.
We recognise that by choosing to use recycled or FSC certified stock, we reduce waste and consumption of natural resources. We can also use water or soy based inks and consider non gloss or laminate and foil free finishes to encourage more onward recycling. To let our customers and consumers know about the efforts we are making, it is important that we clearly communicate information by the use of standard recycling logos. Across our business operations we have areas where we manage this very well, but we think we can do even better by being more consistent in our standards and practices.
To make improvements we will continue to follow the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and will audit and review our practices against the Outdoor Industry Packaging Roadmap 2.0. From this we will issue a single policy for paper use and recycling communication across the business by the end of 2014.
PVC and Phthalates
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a common plastic. Phthalates are often added to PVC as a plasticiser to make it soft and pliable and therefore able to be used in products, trims or as screen print ink on garments. Other additives such as lead and organotins are added to PVC as stabilisers. All additives can migrate to the surface of the PVC and pose a threat to health, especially to children.
The use of PVC in Berghaus products is not permitted unless there are no practical alternatives and written permission for the use of PVC has been given by Berghaus.
Where PVC is the only practical choice it should be phthalate-free wherever possible and, if phthalate-free PVC is not available, the use of any phthalates that are restricted by legislation should be avoided. The legislative picture is changing but restrictions are in place in many different countries such as EU, USA, Taiwan and Korea.