Environment & Nature
Every journey begins with a single step. And step by step we are nearing our destination. Our aim is to reduce the negative environmental impact of our company’s activities and to become active environmental guardians. With the help of the bluesign® standard, the world’s strictest standard, we are able to examine and optimise our production process. With the ‘dirt bag’ project plus our commitment to the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) we are promoting concrete projects for environmental protection.
Have you read our corporate values?
‘Outdoor sport is at the heart of Deuter.’ And how true that is! We manufacture our products so that people can take them outdoors and spend many happy and exciting hours in the mountains or on their travels with them. The landscape is not just a backdrop; it is an essential part of the activity. Protecting that environment and taking a sensitive approach to plant life, animal life and their habitats is therefore ‘in the very nature of things’ for us. A healthy environment is synonymous with our existence – we are acutely aware of that.
We know that we have embarked on a long journey, and it can only happen one step at a time. But we have not chosen to take the easiest route. There are no shortcuts to be made in terms of quality and functionality. We are on a mission to find a harmonious balance between economy, ecology and social issues.
Products & Production
The highest standards of expertise are what we aim for. Since 1898 we have demonstrated this with the functionality, quality and longevity of our products. For us, that equates to sustainability.
And many of our customers can corroborate this. Once stitched together, a Deuter backpack lasts virtually forever. Our extremely low complaints rate of 0.11 percent is evidence of this. The longevity of our products is our contribution to preserving resources and therefore to conserving the environment. No manufacturing process can match the environmental benefits of keeping your old backpack. And we can offer further assistance in this respect. Our repairs service in Gersthofen goes way beyond the legal requirements of a warranty. Where possible, products that are even several decades old will be repaired and made functional again, even if it is not strictly speaking commercially viable - and we do it at cost price too.
We are also aware of course, that functionality and quality can be a matter of survival, especially when it comes to mountain sports. We take a no compromise approach! It is with this remit that we select the materials that we work with. It means the options are limited because the performance and longevity of our materials have to be spot on. We are constantly on the lookout for more environmentally friendly alternatives that we can apply to the majority of our products. So, for example, in 2012 we replaced one of our main materials, a black polyester fabric, with a more sustainable alternative. We use approx. 640,000 metres of it in a year. By using a different kind of dyeing process, 2,500 tonnes of water and nearly 7,000 kW of energy are saved every year.
Together with our partners in Vietnam and China, we are working towards making our entire product cycle, from its inception on computers through to delivery, more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Our backpack and accessories supplier in Vietnam, Duke, holds the international ISO 14001 environment management standard status.
We are particularly proud that in February 2011, Duke was the first backpack manufacturer in Asia to become a bluesign® system partner, and has therefore committed itself to the world’s strictest guidelines on environmental protection, occupational health & safety and consumer protection. Our sleeping bag supplier in China has also signed up to the bluesign® standard – the selection took place in April 2012. This means that all of our production partners comply with the bluesign® standard. And now we are supporting these partners to convince their suppliers in turn to sign up too, thus ensuring environmental protection runs through more phases of the supply chain. A few challenging stages still lie ahead of us.
Logistics & Gersthofen Head Office
When it comes to logistics and transport, we are also trying to make our environmental footprint as small as possible.
Our backpacks and accessories have been manufactured by our production partners in Vietnam for the past 18 years. The Deuter products are then sent by sea freight to Hamburg. 99 % of our goods arrive in Germany this way. Only on rare occasions do we have to resort to air freight so that we can meet delivery deadlines and ensure availability of our products. But we have to be honest, the reason for this is not just the environment but also the lower costs involved in sea freight.
From our depot, the goods are then sent on to our dealers via the DHL GOGREEN system (as of March 2009). The carbon emissions are offset against climate protection projects. Naturally we cover the extra costs involved.
The environmental burden of our head office with its 86 employees in Gersthofen is relatively small compared to the production and transport side of things. However we still strive to minimise our effect by being environmentally aware, true to our motto “from acorns oak trees grow”. And so our energy comes from renewable sources via the company ‘naturstrom’. For our catalogues we only use certified paper. We are also part of the “CO2 print compensation” initiative, where greenhouse gases emitted during the production of the catalogue are offset against environmental protection projects. By looking at the identification number on the catalogue, you can find out the exact CO2 emissions of the print run at www.klima-druck.de as well as more information on the climate projects it supports. In 2012 for the first time, Deuter’s trade show t-shirts were made from organic cotton and for our new building, environmental considerations were taken into account right from the planning stage. Our new site will have a heat exchange pump and the logistics building will have an untreated larch wood facade. We are also constructing it much closer to the train station. Our employees who commute to work by train every day will naturally benefit from this too.
The bluesign standard
We are taking many single steps towards our major goal of reducing the negative environmental impact of our company’s activities. When it comes to optimising our production process, we abide by the bluesign® standard, the strictest environmental standard for the production of textiles in the world.
The bluesign® standard is the world’s strictest standard for environmental protection, safety at work and consumer protection. It was originally developed by a Swiss organisation specifically for the textile industry. Today it is also supported by hardware manufacturers such as Deuter.
Unlike many other eco-labels, the bluesign® standard not only looks at the end product to see if it contains pollutants or has any chemical residues, but instead looks at the entire production process of its individual components. The reason for this is simple: A product can only enter the market ‘clean’ if unpolluted materials are used in its production. Each and every stage of the production chain, from raw materials to finished item, is examined to find ways of optimising the process in terms of choice of materials, energy and water consumption, use of chemicals, noise levels, air emissions, water emissions as well as occupational health and safety. The bluesign® screening tool serves as the foundation on which production facilities are examined by independent experts. Only when a production site has successfully implemented the suggested improvement measures can they become a bluesign® system partner.
The bluesign® Standard therefore ensures environmental and consumer protection directly on site, not at the end of the production in the test institutes. It also means that environmental and consumer safety is not only guaranteed for a single product, but for all products from this fabrication.
The bluesign® standard has guidelines for two different labels. “bluesign® approved fabric” is concerned with the textiles used in a product, while the “bluesign® product” label encompasses all components. The “bluesign® approved fabric” label is applied to products where 90% of the textiles used conform to the bluesign® standard. The other 10 % of the textiles cannot come into direct contact with the skin and must conform to the bluesign® standard substances list (BSSL).
Products with the “bluesign® product” label are in the premier league: 95 % of the textiles used must be bluesign® certified textiles (“bluesign® approved fabric”). The remaining 5% cannot come into direct skin contact, must have levels in accordance with the BSSL and must also pass laboratory tests. In addition, prints, appliqués and accessories such as buckles or belts must also conform to the bluesign® standard. Currently there is an interim agreement which states that 30 % of accessories must comply with the bluesign® standard.
Here too, we are on a long and arduous journey. Of course it is much easier to make a 100% cotton or polyester t-shirt in line with the bluesign® standard, than it is a backpack made from no less than 220 different parts!
That is why, thankfully, there are an increasing number of products with the “bluesign® approved fabric” label. Those that have the “bluesign® product” label, of which there are few in comparison, are mostly from the clothing sector. The “bluesign® product” certification is currently unfeasible for a product as complex as a backpack. Together with our production partners however, we are working hard at implementing the bluesign® standard throughout our supply chain. Our aim is to produce a backpack with the “bluesign® product” certification. But that is a very complex aim and it will take us on a long journey.
Find out more about the bluesign® standard here: http://www.bluesign.com/
Environmental protection projects
Together with the DAV (German Alpine Association) Summit Club, we launched the ‘dirt bag’ project. It is more than just a dirt bag or storage bag. The dirt bag is an ambassador for a more considered and caring approach to nature. And that approach starts the minute it is purchased: €1 of the price goes directly to one of the Bergwald Offensive ’s projects. Neither Deuter, the DAV Summit Club nor the dealers earn a single cent from the €3 sale of the dirt bags.
In 2006, we became the first German sports equipment manufacturer to join the "European Outdoor Association for Conservation" (EOCA). The EOCA is an initiative of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and is financed by member contributions and donations. The association supports a range of environmental projects with a six-figure contribution every year. The EOCA members can suggest which projects should be supported, and these will then benefit from up to €30,000 in funds the following year. All of our employees, both in-house and out in the field, as well as importers and our partners can put forward projects throughout the world for funding consideration. In 2011/2012, “Sustainable Tourism in Iceland” was one of the successful initiatives put forward by our Iceland importers.
Find out more about the “Sustainable Tourism in Iceland” project here: http://www.outdoorconservation.eu/project-detail.cfm?projectid=6