Generic Fashion - Ecology Question 8

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Question

Does the brand (company) use these environmentally friendlier alternatives for leather and synthetic rubber for more than XX% of the total use of footwear materials?

NL: Bestaat bij het merk (bedrijf) tenminste XX% van het totale materiaalgebruik uit milieuvriendelijke alternatieven voor leer en synthetisch rubber?

DE: Ersetzt der Markenhersteller mindestens zu XX% Leder und synthetischen Gummi / Kautschuk durch umweltfreundliche Alternativen?

Reference

In the footwear sector, leather and synthetic rubber are the most used base material groups. The question refers to 'a policy' to substitute these base materials. With this question we do not consider policy in terms of quantity, only in terms of concreteness: there should be at least a short description of goals, actions and outcomes. The following question however does consider quantity in terms of percentage of total use of materials used for the production of footwear. This question also refers to criterion 11 'Usage of Natural Resources' of the Sustainability Code 1 2 from the German Council of Sustainable Development.

Leather
LCA's indicate that leather has a high environmental impact, apart from animal welfare issues. The energy use and consequent CO2 emissions are high, compared to other possible shoe materials (see this summary LCA, p.25). The use of water and chemicals throughout production, from animal feed to livestock to leather tanning are considerable, as indicated by companies like Nike and Timberland. Also the loss of biodiversity in tropical area's like Brazil, where rainforest is cleared for livestock and soy plantations for animal feed, is an issue of high concern; see also the separate Fashion Ecology Question 21. A robust way to reduce the environmental impact of footwear production is to substitute leather by lower impact materials like cotton canvas.

Eligible materials to substitute leather are for example:
• cotton canvas
• hemp, flax or bamboo fabric
• synthetic leather

Rubber
The rubber that is used in the soles of shoes also has environmental concerns. Virgin synthetic rubber production is known for high carbon and VOC emissions and high amounts of waste during production [1]. Also, as e.g. indicated by Nike, conventional rubber formulations contain toxic chemicals that pollute the environment.

Fortunately, there are environmentally friendlier rubber alternatives available for footwear manufacturers:
• Natural rubber (jungle rubber, or latex rubber). As indicated and promoted by Greenpeace, jungle rubber is natural, and not damaging the forest as it does not require the tree to be cut down in order for the latex to be extracted. Jungle rubber also helps families to earn a living from rubber tapping, e.g. in extractive reserves in the Amazon forest.
• Recycled rubber, as promoted by Timberland and Simple Shoes.
• Rubber formulations with lower toxic chemical (such as zinc) content, as promoted by Nike.

Eligible materials to substitute rubber are for example:
• natural rubber
• recycled rubber
• Rubber formulations with lower toxic chemical (zinc) content, as promoted by Nike. Please note that it is not clear how the total environmental impact of this material compares to current conventional rubber materials used in the sector. Further research will be performed as we find more occasions for comparison.

In case a brand reports materials that are not listed here, please contact verifier@rankabrand.com to review this material.

Among fashion brands / companies assessed good examples in terms of reporting on raw materials processed are presented by Fenix Outdoor Group, see page 13, Komodo , Made-By for its member brands , H&M Group, see page 14 & 17 or Timberland.

Answering Guidelines

Yes:
• [Brand] mentions that in [year] only environmentally 'preferred' alternatives to substitute [leather, rubber*] were used, namely [cotton canvas, [FSC certified] natural rubber, recycled rubber, recycled cotton, recycled nylon6, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic flax (linen), Tencel, organic cotton, organic ‘in conversion’ cotton*].

• From the total use of [Brand] [leather/rubber], [..]% was [recycled cotton, recycled nylon6, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic flax (linen), Tencel, organic cotton, organic ‘in conversion’ cotton*] in [year].

• The majority [..]% of raw materials is made from environmentally preferable alternatives, namely [cotton canvas, [FSC certified] natural rubber, recycled rubber, recycled cotton, recycled nylon6, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic flax (linen), Tencel, organic cotton, organic ‘in conversion’ cotton*] instead of [leather, rubber*].

• In [year], [..]% of [Brand]’s entire collection was made of more sustainable cotton - certified to [OCS, FLO-Cert, BCI*].

No:
• [Brand] mentions explicitly not to substitute [leather, rubber*] by environmentally friendlier alternatives.

• [Brand] states that no environmentally preferred raw materials are used.

• In [year], only around [..]% of [Brand]’s entire collection was made of more sustainable raw materials, namely [cotton canvas, natural rubber, recycled rubber, recycled cotton, recycled nylon6, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic flax (linen), Tencel, organic cotton, organic ‘in conversion’ cotton*].

?:
• [Brand] mentions the use of environmentally 'preferred' alternatives to substitute [leather, rubber*], such as [recycled cotton, recycled nylon6, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic flax (linen), Tencel, organic cotton, organic ‘in conversion’ cotton*], but it is not clear what percentage of the total volume this represents.

• [Brand] mentions the use of environmentally 'preferred' alternatives to substitute [leather, rubber*], but does not [clearly*] report on the [proportion / respective alternative materials*].

[Brand] mentions the total volume ([..]tonnes) of environmentally prefered alternatives such as [recycled cotton, recycled nylon6, recycled polyester, organic hemp, organic flax (linen), Tencel, organic cotton, organic ‘in conversion’ cotton*] to substitute [leather, rubber*]. However, it is not clear what percentage of the total annual volume this represents.

• [Brand] mentions environmentally preferred alternatives to [leather, rubber*], but does not mention a concrete policy or results related to the total own use of raw materials.

• [Brand] has defined a sustainable raw material strategy. However, the overall proportion of preferable raw materials used is not communicated.

• [Brand] does not communicate a policy for substituting leather and synthetic rubber with environmentally friendlier alternatives.

• [Brand] does not communicate a policy for substituting conventional raw materials such as leather, synthetic rubber or polyester with environmentally friendlier alternatives.

• [Brand] does not communicate any environmental policy on its website.

• [Brand] does not communicate results on the use of preferred raw materials such as organic cotton or recycled polyester. However, [Brand] avoids the use of [real fur, exotic animal skins*].


-* You can pick the topic that applies to 'your' brand.

Note: when linking to a downloadable source document, please refer to the page(s) where to find the respective information with: (see link, page [..]).

Optional, but only for ? Answers, feel free to write at the end of a remark: Sustainability information should be easily accessible for consumers to make responsible choices.