Our commitment to creating products that safeguard the environment is particularly challenging when it comes to delivering the high-performance apparel and equipment our customers expect.
Some of the chemicals we use to impart performance characteristics such as water, stain and oil repellency contain PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals). We are working to replace these Durable Water Repellancy (DWR) chemicals with environmentally preferable PFC options.
The North Face has partnered with the industry-leading experts at bluesign technologies to help our mills reduce their impact by using water and energy more efficiently and by addressing harmful chemicals at the fabric level. The bluesign® system provides a sophisticated, independent approach to reducing supply chain impacts in five key areas: resource productivity; air emissions; worker health and safety; water emissions; and consumer safety.
The North Face has worked to influence supply chain partners to engage voluntarily with the program. After an intensive audit, bluesign® experts provide each participating fabric mill with a detailed, individualized assessment that gives them insight into how to optimize their energy and water use per kilogram of fabric. The four years of program data above demonstrate a significant increase in efficiency at mills engaged in the program. The percentage of bluesign® approved fabric dropped in 2013 as compared to 2012 and The North Face is currently evaluating its future bluesign participation goals.
To clearly communicate our standards for chemical safety to all of our suppliers, the North Face maintains aRestricted Substance List (RSL) that identifies the chemical substances that are restricted for our products for regulatory, safety or environmental reasons. We help our suppliers to go beyond compliance to identify environmentally preferable chemicals and to reduce chemical use overall through efficient manufacturing processes and by leveraging bluesign technologies’ apparel expertise.
Companies across the outdoor equipment and apparel industry share many of the same challenges. Spurred by our belief in the power of collaboration to develop solutions, we are working closely with our industry peers as members of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Chemical Working Group (CMWG). The group is focused on establishing shared approaches and tools for chemicals assessment and management. As a founding member of the OIA Sustainability Working Group, we contributed to the Eco Index, the foundation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, which provides a standard tool for measuring the environmental and social performance of apparel and footwear products.
Through our parent company VF Corporation’s global supply chain and compliance structure, we audit new suppliers to ensure that they meet our standards and we inspect all direct suppliers at least annually. Our conventional factory audit includes components that address health, safety, and environmental concerns, in addition to social compliance. We expect facilities to meet all applicable laws and regulations and to employ procedures that minimize air emissions, waste, energy and water use, and other significant environmental risks.
For more information on our social compliance program, see Social Responsibility.