We are scared of the development we see on our planet in regards to climate change and pollution. We as a company has from the start had focus on long lasting quality and products being used until they are worn out, and for many years worked reducing the carbon foot print of our company by repairing products, using organic cotton and recycled polyesters as initiatives to improve sustainability. We have also worked to be responsible in our production by working with factories and suppliers we rely on, and that have committed to our Code of Conduct. Now the time has come to lift our ambition level higher. And we will put our effort on contributing to a big change of how we as humans live and act on this planet, to save the planet and us from the climate change that the human race has started the last 100 years.
Though there are many challenges, seeing results and knowing that we can influence peoples’ work environment on the other side of the globe gives us the motivation to work even harder. Norrøna is working to promote proper labor and environmental conditions in our supply chains through close cooperation with our suppliers and partners. To clarify what we expect from our suppliers Norrøna has developed guidelines for ethical trade in our value chain, so called Codes of Conduct. All Norrøna suppliers must sign them before entering a partnership. The content is based on the international conventions relating to working conditions and the environment that are incorporated in the legislation in most countries. Download Norrøna CoC pdf.
Membership in the Ethical Trading Initiative Norway
Ethical Trading Initiative Norway (ETI-N) is a resource centre and an advocate for ethical trade practices and a committing partnership between companies, trade unions, NGO's and public institutions. Norrøna has been a member of ETI-N since 2007. Through our membership we are commited to report annualy on our work and progress on ethical trade. Together with ETI-N we are conducting projects and training to learn about the challenges in our supply chain. Download the 2014 report here.
Norrøna audits all new factories according to our Code of Conduct. The factories are then included in our audit cycle where the need for a re-inspection or audit is considered continuously. The CSR audits are done by independent auditors that speak the local language and know local legislation. Our goal is to inspect all remaining factories during 2016. Two CSR audits were conducted in 2015, and no severe findings were done. Still we found evidence that indicate excessive use of overtime, and minor violations to HSE regulations. These findings were reviewed by our CSR Responsible and the Head of Supply Chain. An improvement plan has been established, and it will be followed-up through dialogue and factory visits. We emphasize a good cooperation with our factories, and acknowledge that this is a continuous process. We will carry out more audits in 2016.
Norrøna currently produces at the follwoing factories:
- Wai Wah Ski-Wear Factory Ltd (China)
- Carleton Investment Ltd (China)
- MSA Ltd (Owner located in South Korea, production in Vietnam)
- REHA Ltd (Turkey)
- Chaos Inc. (Owner located in Canada, production in China)
- Flatseam Apparel Ltd (China)
- Global Development Ltd (China)
- Dong In Entch Co. Ltd. (Philippines)
- Palace Industry Co. Ltd. (Vietnam)
- Eusebio Sporting Co. Ltd. (China)
- Wasa Sweden AB (Sweden)
- Tseng Ltd (China)
- KTC Ltd (China)
- Tech Winning Ltd (China)
- Jannex Development Ltd (China)
- Atlantic Rim Ltd (Sri Lanka)
- Bosswik A/S (Denmark)
- ZKG International (China)
- King Hung (Vietnam)
- Omniteksas (Lithuania)
- Morgan Pack (China)
- Acrylic Triwisdom Manufacturing Ltd. (China)
We strive to impose as little harm as possible to the environment throughout our value chain from the factory to the stores. We use environmentally friendly materials and techniques wherever possible. Our products have a long life span and service and repair are offered for damaged products.
Norrøna wishes to use as much recycled fabrics and materials when making a garment. This is a guiding principle when designing new products, and when buying fabrics and trims. We are constantly searching the market for high quality recycled fibers. The main example is polyester which is one of the fibers we use the most. It has been challenging to find recycled polyester of a quality that does not reduce durability or functionality, but we are now seeing a good trend in termas of supply. In 2014 16% of our garments was made with recycled polyester, in 2015 28% was made with recycled polyester, and in 2016 39% was made with recycled polyester. We are very proud of this, but it also shows that the access to high quality recycled polyester has increased. In 2012 we also made the first fleece jacket made solely from PET bottles, and you can read more here. We have a stated goal to use only recycled polyester in 2020.
Recycled nylon is also an important fiber, but this has proven more difficult than polyester. In 2016 8% of our nylon was recycled, but the target was 20%. The reason for this is that it has been difficult to find recycled nylon of high quality and durability. It would not make sense to produce a less durable product in order to use recycled nylon. We work continuously to find sources of recycled, high quality nylon, and we have a goal that 75% of our nylon should be recycled in 2020.
We also work we regenerated wool, and this also represent a recycled fiber. By using more recycled fibers we are contributing to closing the loop, and reduce the environmental impact of our garments.
Norrøna uses recycled and recyclable material in many of our products. In 2012 Norrøna released the first fleece jacket made solely from recycled PET bottles.
What is it?
Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS or PFC) are fluorocarbon connections that possess unique water and fat rejecting properties, and because of this they are frequently found in DWR (Durable Water Resistance) treatments used on outdoor clothing. It is a distinction between long chain fluorocarbons (C8 and higher) and short fluorocarbons (C6 and lower). Among the long chain fluorocarbons you find PFOA and PFOS that have been shown to pose a considerable environmental threat. Norrøna removed all long chain fluorocarbons from our products several years ago, and we did it before the legal demand in 2013. The shorter fluorocarbons show less toxicity but they are still classified as persistent.
Why do Norrøna use short chain PFAS (PFC) in our shell clothing?
Norrøna still use short chain fluorocarbon (C6) in our shell products. We are aware of the potential environmental hazard PFAS pose, and we are working determinately to phase out PFAS from our products. DWR treatment containing PFAS have received criticism lately, and we can understand why. However we have yet to find an alternative that satisfy our quality demands. Both Norrøna and our main vendor Gore-Tex are working on alternatives, and we are continuously testing the available options. Gore-tex have chosen to invest USD 15 million to research related to this subject. Independently Norrøna has several testruns going to find a viable option to the C6 DWR. Our cotton jackets and pants, insulation jackets and windproof jackets are treated with a PFAS-free DWR, but these products does not have the same demands to waterproofness as our shell clothing does.
So why do Norrøna continue to use PFAS? The DWR treatment is crucial for the waterproof properties of shell clothing. The DWR prevents wear and tear of the membrane, and it prevents dirt and fat to accumulate in the fabric. Dirt and fat will deteriorate the performance of the garment. The worst case is that the outer fabric and the membrane delaminate (the glue holding the layers together is dissolved), and as a result the waterproofness will deteriorate considerably. Because of this DWR is an important component to ensure the highest quality and a long lifetime for our products. Norrøna is of the opinion that the highest quality and a long lifetime are essential to reduce the environmental footprint of our products. It is better that you use a jacket for several years than buy a new one every year.
Another aspect of PFAS is that outdoor garment producers represent a small fraction of the total use. The outdoor industry is also aware of the problem, and most brands are working to phase out fluorocarbons. Independent research (SWEREA research report produced on behalf of the Swedish Government) show that DWR treatment of leather and textile represent less than 5% of the total usage of PFAS. But as Norrøna still acknowledge the issue, and we are working determinately to phase out PFAS from our products.
Is Norrøna going to stop using PFAS (PFC) in the future?
Norrøna has made a commitment to phase out PFAS from our products by the end of 2020. You can find this goal and our other CSR goals on this page.
Organic cotton is produced without the use of harmful pesticides, harsh chemical bleaches or dyes and is allergy-free. Currently 100% of our cotton is organic.
Norrøna is well aware of the issues plastic microfibers pose to marine environments (and also in fertilized fields due to use of sludge from water treatment plants), and we acknowledge that the washing of garments made of synthetic fibers is a contributor to this issue. We are also working to find good short term and long term solutions to this issue. Studies have revealed when washing garments made from synthetic fibers plastic microfibers are released, or shed. These fibers are smaller than 5 mm in length, and many of them are not captured in water treatment plans and they find their way into the oceans where they harm marine wildlife. Research done in Norway suggest that the washing of synthetic garments is the fifth largest contributor to these emissions with 110 tons per year (wear and tear of car tires is the biggest with 2250 metric tons every year in Norway, paint for boats and ships is second (650 metric tons), and plastic production is third (400 metric tons) (you can read about the Norwegian Environment Agency, its research project and its findings here).
Our fleece garments are one source of these microfibers, but we also know that premium, high-end fleece products, such as Norrøna's, release far less microfibers than low-quality fleece garments (read more about this reasearch). But this is no excuse, and we are working to find solutions to this issue. we are working with the German non-profit Guppy Friend, and we will be selling their washing bag in our stores. This represents a short-term solution where you can wash several of your garments in a washing bags that captures most of the microfibers shed when washing. Another good advice is to use front loading washing machines as they reduce the shedding of microfibers (read more about this reasearch).
Norrøna has also contributed to, and is a member of, the Microfiber Consortium started by the European Outdoor Group and Leeds University. This consortium will consider key questions regarding microfibers, and contribute with more research on how to solve this issue. Read more here.
From a long-term standpoint, we will work with our fabric suppliers to make more durable fabrics, and consider alternative and new construction. Norrøna also has a large collection of wool garments, both baselayer and insulation layers, and wool is a natural fiber that should be far less harmful if it finds its way to the ocean. Have a look at some of our wool garments here!
Norrøna is genuinely concerned with the welfare of the animals in our value chain, and we work to make sure that they are treated humanely and that they are bred in a sustainable manner. We expect animals in our value chain to be treated according to the five freedoms. The breeding and farming of the animals should also be sustainable to minimize the strain on the affected natural resources.
The wool we use comes from sheep that are non-mulesed, and the wool is traceable back to the farm (and in most cases back to the animal). Norrøna mainly uses merino wool from New Zealand and Australia, and it is certified according to ZQ and New Merino. That ensures that the wool and the farms are inspected and certified by independent third parties. We did consider the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), but we still think it has some weaknesses, and thus we chose to use standards that ensures that our wool is as responsible and sustainable as possible.
We still have wool that is certified by industry owned certification bodies. We are working to phase out this wool with independently certified wool.
Norrøna also uses reprocessed wool in a few select products, and by doing this we fruther reduce the stress on animals and nature.
Norrøna only use certified down from geese and ducks that are bred for food. This is done to avoid the down being plucked from live birds; this is a problem in uncontrolled down production. The birds are also treated well. This is ensured through the Downpass certification, and we have used certified down ever since these certifications were available.
In 2017 we will start using down that has been certified according to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) as we believe this is a better certification.
In some of our products we use goat's leather (e.g. gloves), and it has proven difficult to safeguard the goats and nature throughout the value chain. Because of this we have chosen to work with Pittards as they have good systems to ensure a humane treatment of the animals, and sustainable treatment methods for the leather.
Polygiene® - silver salt
We have received criticism for our use of Polygiene® lately. We still stand by the statements below, and have yet to see reliable evidence that Polygiene® could be harmful to the environment or cause resistant bacteria. However we take our customers and their comments and concerns very seriously in Norrøna, and as a result of customer feedback we have chosen to discontinue the use of Polygiene®.
Why we use it?
You need to see the bigger picture here: The textile industry is taking its toll on the environment, and the demands are ever increasing. Cotton, wool and polyester are some of the more important fibers used. Cotton has a bad reputation from an environmental standpoint; very high water consumption and excessive use of pesticides. Wool requires treatment involving strong chemicals before it can be used. Polyester is made in part from oil, but the great advantage compared to the other two fibers is that it can be easily recycled.
One of the most important tools we have in our toolbox to ensure an environmentally friendly production and value chain is that we make high quality products that last. Some estimates indicate that 2/3 of the environmental impact of a garment happens after it is sold. This is mainly due to wear and tear during washing.
So how do we alleviate this?
One solution is to make clothes that require less washing. The “Wear More, Wash Less”-campaign has been fronted by many big brands (especially in regards to denim). So the intention with Polygiene® is that we use a recyclable fabric and treat it so that less washing is required, and you can wash at lower temperatures. In that way we hope to change the attitude of consumers, and provide a product with a longer life span and a smaller environmental impact.
How does it work?
Polygiene® contains a very small amount of silver salt (AgCl). Silver reduces the growth of bacteria that produces waste that causes smell. Sweat in it is self does not cause smell, it is merely water and salt, but sweat combined with warm areas on the body (e.g. armpits, crotch, etc.) provides excellent conditions for bacteria growth. The Polygiene® treatment is only active in the garment and does not interfere with the skin's natural bacteria. Polygiene® treated fabrics have received Medical Class 1 approval; this class includes bandages for open wounds.
Silver has been around and coexisted with bacteria since the dawn of time, and its bacteria eradicating abilities have been known for centuries. Silver is used in bandages, to clean water, in textiles and shoes to prevent bacteria. Silver also occurs naturally in soil, in water (and drinking water) and in our bodies.
The silver used in Polygiene® is made from 100% recycled silver, and it is Bluesign®-certified - meaning they offer the highest level of consumer safety by employing methods and materials in their manufacturing that conserve resources and minimize the impact on people and the environment. Polygiene is also on the list over approved materials by Oeko-Tex (Oeko-Tex is an independent association that tests textiles for possible harmful substances, and promotes materials that don't pose any health risk for humans or the environment).
What’s the controversy about?
It is related to two issues: The environmental impact and possible resistant bacteria.
There are concerns that the increased use of silver may cause bacteria to become resistant to treatment. A lot of research has been done on this, and as we see it there is no need to be concerned. In the studies where bacteria have been found to become resistant very high levels of silver exposure was used (50.000 times normal exposure), and that bacteria is becoming resistant to silver in a study does not mean it contributes to antibiotic resistance. We use less than what you will find in nature in our products, and the amount released through washing is miniscule. A normal silver ring can be used to treat between 500 and 1000 garments depending in the amount used. Research that tested actual resistance to silver found no proof of resistance among over 500 bacteria tested. Because of this we do not see a risk of resistance developing because of our Polygiene® treatment. Lanolin in wool has the same effect as silver in our clothing.
You can read about the research we regard as the most reliable and significant. It is a short article, but the study is extensive: 519 bacteria were tested for actual resistance towards silver. You can read the article here.
Silver is a metal, and in high concentration it can be dangerous to certain organisms. An example is San Francisco Bay; mollusks and crustaceans where harmed by emissions from the photo industry (silver was used to develop photos). Again we are talking about very high concentrations. As mentioned: The amounts we use are lower than the levels naturally found in soil, water, and drinking water. Silver is actually the most common way to treat drinking water.
• Increase the products life span to reduce the environmental impact
• Very small amounts of silver salt (AgCl) (not nano silvers) reduce bacteria growth and smell, and the product requires less washing
• The amounts used are smaller than the levels that are naturally found in soil, water, our bodies, etc.
• The studies that suggest possible resistance used extremely high levels of silver exposure (50.000 times normal exposure)
Damage to environment and organisms?
• The amounts released through washing are so small that they are smaller than the levels that are naturally found in soil, water, our bodies, etc.
Norrøna is constantly reviewing the materials and fabrics we use in our products, and if we would find something that is proved as a risk to our health or the environment, we would of course replace this.
Read more at: www.polygiene.com