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 In the meantime, this handbook has been superseded by the Handbook on Environmental Standards which is legally binding for all PUMA suppliers.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 initatives through PUMA’s membership in the AFIRM working group on restricted substances, 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.

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 including the implementation of the ZDHC MRSL.

 

In 2015, 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 taken the lead and conducted environmental audits for twelve key material suppliers globally, including four factories in mainland China, three in Taiwan, three in Bangladesh, one in Turkey and one in Guatemala. The twelve factories involve different types ranging from knitting mills, dyeing mills, tanneries, synthetic leather producers, to zipper suppliers, golf club manufacturers and vertical apparel suppliers. These factories were either audited by PUMA’s internal auditors or the global audit firm ITS. From the perspective of PUMA divisions, there are five apparel factories, three footwear factories, three accessory factories, and one COBRA PUMA GOLF factory covered.

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), and some were found to be lacking even very basic requirements.

In the meantime, each audited supplier has already implemented a double-digit number of corrective actions. We will continue to follow up with our key material suppliers for not only environmental performance, but start to assess them for social performance as well.

This table shows a summary of the environmental audit result from 12 key suppliers.

Training and Capacity Building

In 2015, 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:

May 2015: Chemical Supplier Training in Taipei, Taiwan

Together with Nike, adidas, and bluesign technologies, PUMA organized a chemical supplier training in Taipei, where the majority of PUMAs chemical suppliers attended. In this collaborative approach, all brands expressed their strong shared vision to achieve Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemical in 2020, including topics like the ZDHC MRSL, different options for implementing a chemical management system, or the importance of the role of chemical suppliers.

August 2015: Forum with China Synthetic Leather Association

PUMA participated in a forum with the China Synthetic Leather Association CSLA. In this meeting, the MRSL was introduced and brands’ expectations regarding its implementation were expressed. The leading members of CSLA introduced their progress in the development on DMF-free products and water-based synthetic leather processes.

September 2015: Chemical Management Training at Supplier Roundtables

During the PUMA supplier roundtable meetings, a session was dedicated to explain the importance of the implementation of the MRSL, the focus on input-stream management systems, and how to control production processes and discharges.

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

PUMA attended the annual meeting of China National Textile & Apparel Council (CNTAC). With the support from ZDHC, CNTAC established a “Textile Sustainable Manufacturing Coalition” by the leading factories in Chinas textile industry. This coalition includes PUMAs material suppliers. Although the collaboration is still in a beginning phase, it is clear that establishing these kind of industry collaborations will have a powerful impact in the MRSL implementation in the supply chain.