Since Antje von Dewitz became CEO of VAUDE, she has consistently focused everything on sustainability. In her guest article for ISPO.com, she tells us what challenges she has to contend with, which measures are most effective, and why she is optimistic about the future.
My name is Antje von Dewitz and I took over from my father as CEO of VAUDE in 2009. Through his first, far-reaching ecological projects, he contributed to my conviction that sustainable business is possible and that companies can and should assume ecological responsibility! Since I became CEO, everything at our company has been consistently geared towards sustainability: at the site, in the supply chains, in the products.
In my guest article for ISPO.com I would like to give you an insight into our transformation and the associated challenges, and encourage you to take a sustainable path. After all, it is possible for a company to act in a fair and humane manner, to be sustainable, and thus to achieve economic success!
When we started the transformation 15 years ago, we were already aware that we are one of the most critical industries and thus have a large share in global problems such as climate change, resource consumption, etc. It is only logical that we also have to be part of the solution and want to face up to this challenge. So it is only logical that we also have to be part of the solution and want to take on this task.
At VAUDE, we consistently pursue a sustainable corporate strategy with high, ambitious goals. Among other things, we have committed to the Greenpeace Detox Commitment or the Science Based Targets in order to make our contribution to meeting the 1.5 degree target according to the Paris Climate Agreement. To this end, we repeatedly work together with NGOs that do not back down from criticism - for example Greenpeace or WWF. We want to get to know their demands and measure ourselves against them.
Our commitment is reflected in our Green Shape label, which almost 80 percent of VAUDE products already meet. Green Shape products are manufactured fairly in audited production facilities, have a high level of material efficiency and are designed to be as easy to repair and recycle as possible. Their materials are certified according to the highest sustainability standards and the majority of them are recycled or bio-based. As a result, they save around 50% in emissions compared to virgin materials.
Green Shape thus fully pays into our climate commitment and our efforts around circular economy. In Germany, we have been climate-neutral since 2012 through savings and offsetting, and this will also apply to our globally manufactured products from 2022.
We are working at full speed to to further reduce our emissions based on ambitious climate targets. This is still a major challenge, especially in global production and supply chains. To this end, we are also working with other brands in the European Outdoor Group (EOG) in the Supply Chain Decarbonization Project (SCDP) - the largest project for climate-neutral supply chains. Real sustainable transformation is only ever possible as a team sport, which is why we also work together with other companies across the value chain in many initiatives and projects, for example on the topic of textile recycling.
Currently, only 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled. In order to build up a truly functioning infrastructure here, everyone has to come together at one table: from yarn manufacturers, material producers, brands and retailers to collectors, sorters and recyclers. Everyone in the value chain needs to know and learn from each other and work towards the same goal. This is incredibly complex, but I am convinced that the changed political framework conditions will make it possible in the coming years.
As a company, we have become more and more political over the last 15 years, because in view of the global challenges, it is nevertheless very strange that it is much more difficult to to assume corporate responsibility than to let it go. It is currently still cheaper to leave your own mess lying around than to clean it up again. No wonder that most people still believe that sustainability and profitability are mutually exclusive. and profitability are mutually exclusive.
Sustainable management is possible, and I am very happy that the legal framework is now being created step by step. With the European Green Deal clearly states that the textile industry must become recyclable and climate-neutral by 2050.
In 1994, we had actually already gone that far once. We had launched the first fully recyclable polyester collection in conjunction with the Ecolog recycling network. We unfortunately discontinued it fifteen years later because it was simply ahead of its time. With our new Rethink products based purely on PET, we can now once again guarantee that our textiles can be fully recycled. As a result we now meet all EU requirements in these products with regard to a closed textile loop: they are durable, recyclable, recycled and free of harmful substances.
I am proud that we at VAUDE have built up expertise in sustainable business. We are also happy to share this expertise - for example, in our VAUDE Academy for sustainable management. Because the sustainable transformation only works together. We are heading toward an overheating planet and need to take climate change much more seriously. Cooperation creates real change and is fun! As an entrepreneur As an entrepreneur, I want to provide impetus and encouragement - for example, through my LinkedIn profile. What drives me on the inside is that I can look my children and grandchildren in the eye later and say: We really, really tried.