Chemicals Management

Factory worker at PUMA footwear supplier in Vietnam

PUMA’s efforts to remove hazardous chemicals from products and production date back to 1999, when the first PUMA Handbook for Product Related Environmental Standards was established. In the meantime, this handbook has been superseded by the two Sustainability Handbooks on Environmental Standards and Chemicals Management, which are legally binding for all PUMA suppliers.

As part of these efforts, PUMA eliminated PVC from its entire product range as early as 2003. PUMA also collaborated with Greenpeace on Chemicals Management in 2005 as part of the “Cleaning up our Chemical Homes” campaign.

Frequently updated information on hazardous chemicals and other environmental industry initiatives through PUMA’s membership in the AFIRM working group on restricted substances, the bluesign System Partnership, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Leather Working Group is being distributed into PUMA’s supply chain through meetings and trainings.

RESTRICTED SUBSTANCE LIST (RSL)

PUMA shoe factory in Vietnam

PUMA ensures that all its products are free of harmful and hazardous chemical substances to protect its consumers and the environment. Over the years, PUMA has regularly updated its product related environmental standards to ensure that international product safety regulations are complied with appropriately.

In 2016, PUMA has adopted the AFIRM RSL and makes it the binding RSL standard for PUMA Manufacturers and Suppliers at all levels of the apparel, accessories and footwear supply chain.

You can download the AFIRM RSL in your preferred language at this link: http://www.afirm-group.com/afirm-rsl/

During the course of product development, material suppliers are required to submit test reports of materials that will be used in PUMA products. Manufacturers (Tier 1 suppliers) have to ensure that valid test reports or certification for all materials are available before bulk production. This policy applies to all PUMA product divisions: Footwear, Apparel and Accessories.

More information on RSL requirements can be found in the PUMA Sustainability Handbook on Chemical Management. A list with contact details of PUMA approved labs can be found here.

Priority Hazardous Chemicals and Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL)

We share many manufacturing partners of our products and most material suppliers with our industry peers. We strongly believe that significant positive impact and meaningful change can only be achieved in partnership with other brands and retailers in the sports and apparel industry. Therefore, we have co-founded the ZDHC and serve at the Board of this organization as well as chair of one of its focus areas.

The ZDHC, with over 20 member brands, has developed, published and updated a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) over the last 2 years. The ZDHC MRSL can be found here: http://www.roadmaptozero.com/fileadmin/pdf/MRSL_v1_1.pdf

In the development process of the ZDHC MRSL, a Framework for the Prioritisation of Hazardous Chemicals, was developed, which prioritizes hazardous substances to be placed on the MRSL for phase-out or to be referred to the ZDHC Research List in case no safer alternatives are available on the market.

We acknowledge that this ZDHC MRSL is a working document, and further chemicals that are so far not regulated by this MRSL must be added over time. As part of our membership in ZDHC, we actively support the further development of the ZDHC MRSL.

We believe support for this industry-wide accepted MRSL is the most efficient option to ensure the implementation of good chemical management practices within our supply chain and to screen out hazardous chemicals from intentional use.

Following the publication of the ZDHC MRSL, we have adopted the MRSL and communicated its adoption into our supply chain using the ZDHC MRSL Acknowledgement letter. Together with our industry peers and bluesign technologies, we have invited chemical suppliers to a workshop in Asia. The MRSL was also a topic of our PUMA supplier round tables around the world. More information on the implementation of the MRSL can be found in our Chemical Management Handbook ("PUMA Sustainability Handbook - Chemical Management").

Environmental Audits

We started to audit our key suppliers with wet-processing facilities in 2014 following the ZDHC environmental audit protocol. This audit protocol focuses, among other environmental aspects, on good chemicals management and includes the implementation of the ZDHC MRSL.

In 2015 and 2016, we made sure our largest vertically integrated suppliers, as well as material suppliers have undergone at least one detailed environmental audit. To avoid duplication of effort and audit fatigue, PUMA joined forces with other brands in the sporting goods sector, and accepts environmental audits conducted by other ZDHC brands as well as the Leather Working Group (LWG) and bluesign technologies.

With these co-operations in place, PUMA has conducted environmental audits for twelve key material suppliers globally in 2015 and eighteen in 2016. In addition, we have covered 9 of our material suppliers by the bluesign system, and 18 leather suppliers that are certified by the Leather Working Group, which were therefore not additionally audited by PUMA on environmental standards. The audited factories cover different processes in the supply chain such as knitting, dyeing, tanning, synthetic leather production, zipper production, golf club manufacturing. These factories were either audited by PUMA’s internal auditors or a global third party audit firms.

From the results of the audits it becomes evident that most of the material suppliers audited still need to go a long way to be fully aligned with the ZDHC environmental audit protocol (Version 2.0).

Since the time of the audits, each audited supplier has implemented a double-digit number of corrective actions. We continue to follow up with our key material suppliers not only regarding environmental performance, but we have also started to assess them for social performance as well.

Warehouse of a dyeing mill in Vietnam

Training and Capacity Building

In 2015 and 2016, PUMA attended several meetings with stakeholders to train the supply chain on the implementation of the MRSL and chemical management systems. Some of the most important ones are listed below:

November 2016: ZDHC & CNTAC Joint Conference on Hazardous Chemical Control & Sustainable Manufacturing

A joint conference of the ZDHC Foundation and the China National Textile & Apparel Council aimed at suppliers within the textile and footwear value-chain to promote safer chemical management. The joint conference provided key information for suppliers to learn more about the ZDHC Programme and how to implement its standards and tools. It featured presentations from thought-leaders and provided interactive question and answer sessions. 

August 2016: Formation of China Synthetic Leather Sustainable Supply Chain Industry Innovation Coalition including an implementation meeting for ZDHC

This meeting was held in conjunction with the Artificial & Synthetic Leather Committee of China Plastics Processing Industry Association and almost 50 companies from the synthetic leather supply chain were present. The next step for the coalition is to conduct a baseline investigation of the industry's hazardous chemical control, using ZDHC tools to pilot, identify best practices, and then work together with ZDHC to lead the industry towards hazardous chemical control.

June 2016: Chemical Management Training and other environmental issues at Roundtables in Vietnam, India, Mexico, China, Indonesia and Bangladesh

During the PUMA Roundtable Meetings, a session was dedicated to explain the importance of the implementation of the MRSL to achieve Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemical including wastewater testing, data disclosure, environmental audits and chemical management systems. The training focussed on how to control production processes and discharges, and our commitment to replace all PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) by the end of 2017. New RSL requirements and the PUMA RSL management system were introduced to suppliers. Different external stakeholders such as Better Cotton Initiative or bluesign technologies attended the meetings to provide related trainings to our suppliers.

December 2015: Annual Meeting of China National Textile & Apparel Council (CNTAC)

September 2015: Chemical Management Training at Supplier Roundtables

August 2015: Forum with China Synthetic Leather Association

May 2015: Chemical Supplier Training in Taipei, Taiwan