G-Star constantly experiments with the endless possibilities of materials, styles and cuts to create products that are unique but recognisable for their consistent G-Star signature look. As G-Star does not own or operate any factories, we work together with skilful suppliers that share our passion to make a strong product. Our philosophy and priority is to build a trustworthy and long-term relationship with these suppliers in order to ensure continuity of the quality, look and delivery of our collections. At the moment, about half of G-Star’s production volume is manufactured by suppliers we work with for over 10 years. Given the importance of the business relationship with our suppliers, we feel responsible to positively contribute to the working conditions of the people making our products.
We developed the G-Star Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure that G-Star products are made under fair and safe circumstances. This Code of Conduct outlines the minimum social and environmental standards we expect each factory to meet and gives guidelines hereto. The Code is based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO Core Conventions, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code, the SMETA Environmental Criteria and ISO 14000
To verify whether our suppliers comply with our Code of Conduct, G-Star set up a compliance process using a combination of tools. As part of this process all our direct suppliers are audited on a regular basis by recognised, independent organisations. We also work on improving conditions further back in our supply chain and include indirect suppliers in the compliance process to the best of our ability.
1.1 - G-Star Supplier Code of Conduct
1.2 - The compliance process explained
G-Star’s compliance process is built around the G-Star Supplier Code of Conduct. A combination of tools is continuously used by G-Star to verify whether suppliers comply with our standards. When we start a business relationship with a supplier, the following steps are taken:
- We require all potential new suppliers to complete a self-assessment. This way, G-Star obtains detailed information about the factory and the social and environmental conditions on-site and, equally important, the supplier is made aware of our standards. As our Code of Conduct is an accurate interpretation of sustainability guidelines that apply to the industry, G-Star also sees the questionnaire as a valuable training tool to build sustainability awareness among our suppliers. In addition, an internal G-Star team visits the factory for a first on-site Corporate Responsibility check.
- Before we place our first order, every supplier has to sign our G-Star Supplier Declaration, committing to comply fully and unconditionally with the Code of Conduct.
- Subsequently, independent audits take place to inspect whether the factory is compliant with the G-Star standards. Regular audits are conducted using a methodology that includes in-depth interviews with both management and workers, a physical inspection of factories and a review of documentation and records. In 2012 77% of our suppliers were audited and in 2013 we conducted audits at 86% of our suppliers. Over the course of these two years all our suppliers have been audited.
- The outcomes of the audit are discussed with the supplier concerned. In instances where suppliers are found to need improvement, G-Star works closely with them to both document and implement an improvement programme in order to reach compliance in an agreed time frame.
The way we monitor our suppliers is an important part of managing our supply chain, but equally important is a continuous dialogue with our suppliers.
Through monitoring we are aware of the local situation. However, we do acknowledge that monitoring in itself does not bring us answers to solve possible issues found during inspection.
To tackle any issue, we need to dive deeper to identify the root causes behind it. That is why we not only focus on monitoring compliance but also on coaching and building up capacity of suppliers in order to address corporate responsibility issues at the point of origin. This means sharing the knowledge we have gained with suppliers and guiding and encouraging them to move forward, not softening our approach or relaxing our standards. Rather than highlighting non-compliances, we are engaging with suppliers and helping them to integrate good social and environmental performance into their business.
Cooperation in the industry is important to reach supplier ownership. Experience, dialogue and partnerships with training bureaus give us a roadmap on how to approach coaching and capacity building. Experienced trainers such as SGS facilitate courses on specific environmental topics such as hazardous chemical use. As part of our commitment to reach zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, we work together with other brands to educate suppliers and promote a responsible chemicals management.
1.3 - Audit methodology
To avoid audit fatigue and a multiplication of different standards for suppliers that work for several brands, we decided not to develop our own auditing guidelines and standards. Instead, we use a public methodology called Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) for all social audits commissioned by G-Star. This methodology is based on the ETI Base Code, which is one of the references for and almost fully aligned to our G-Star Supplier Code of Conduct. The SMETA methodology is designed by a multi-stakeholder panel composed of brands, NGOs, suppliers and auditing companies in response to the search for a methodology that enables sharing of audit information and collaborating between brands and suppliers.
1.4 - Restricted Substances List
G-Star works actively to prevent the use of chemicals that can have a harmful effect on health or the environment. The basis for monitoring the use of chemicals in G-Star products is the G-Star Restricted Substances List. This list follows international laws and regulations and is updated frequently. Our textile engineers and quality assurance specialists work together with suppliers on proper use of chemicals and compliance with the list. We monitor compliance of our products and processes with the restrictions in the G-Star Restricted Substances List by performing risk assessments, auditing and testing of our garments.
1.5 - Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals
September 16th 2013: 2013 Third Party Quarter Progress Report released
The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) coalition brands – adidas group, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, Gap Inc., H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Limited Brands, Li Ning, M&S, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., NIKE, Inc., PUMA SE, and PVH Corp. – released the 2013 Third Quarter Progress Report. We are pleased to share this progress report, the first update subsequent to the release of the Joint Roadmap, Version 2, in June 2013. Achievements during the past 3 months include the completion of a draft prioritization framework, hazardous chemical substance list, and generic audit protocol and pilot testing, as well as co-hosting a large symposium on chemicals in the textile industry in Beijing with the China National Textile and Apparel Council. You can view the quarterly progress report at www.roadmaptozero.com/programme-documents.php.
June 11th 2013: Joint Roadmap, Version 2, Issued
The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Group released the Joint Roadmap, Version 2. We are pleased to share this ambitious plan that sets a new standard of environmental performance for the global apparel and footwear industry. This updated Roadmap builds on the initial 2011 Joint Roadmap and sets out a new plan, incorporating and reflecting comments received from a wide range of stakeholders, including textile industry suppliers and associations, government agencies in Asia, Europe and the United States, non-governmental organisations, international development organisations and the chemical industry. For more information on the ZDHC programme, please visit: www.roadmaptozero.com.
March 4th 2013: ZDHC Releases Inaugural Annual Report
Adidas Group, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Li Ning, NIKE, Inc., and PUMA SE released the 2012 Annual Report. We are pleased to share the inaugural year results of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme in the 2012 Annual Report. The results presented in this report illustrate the focus on results and commitment of the ZDHC community—signatory brands, the textile chemical industry and supply chain industry associations, environmental and social nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), suppliers, and the academic community—during the past year to work towards the goal of zero discharge.
You can view the update at http://www.roadmaptozero.com/df.php?file=pdf/2012_Annual_Report.pdf.
March 4th 2013: Draft Joint Roadmap, Version 2, Issued
The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme members, adidas Group, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Li Ning, NIKE, Inc., and PUMA SE, issued a draft Joint Roadmap, Version 2, on 4 March 2013 for review and comment. We welcome your comments on this document and thank you in advance for providing feedback. We ask that you complete this web survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZDHCJointRoadmapv2) and provide feedback on the approach and critical sections of the roadmap. Support from and alignment with our stakeholders underpins every aspect of the zero discharge programme and affects every programme project; we cannot achieve true transformation without engagement from many system participants.
January 31st 2013: G-Star commits to the Detox Solution Commitment of Greenpeace
G-Star does not allow the use of chemicals in our products that can have a harmful effect on health or the environment. This is why we live up to strict quality and safety standards and regulations, and carefully monitor the use of chemicals in G-Star products with our G-Star Restricted Substances List (RSL).
G-Star recognises that despite all measures taken, this unfortunately does not prevent that hazardous chemicals can end up in the water through certain production processes. We therefore acknowledge the urgent need to eliminate industrial releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment, and set the target to reach zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from all our products and production processes by 2020.
In 2011, G-Star was approached by Greenpeace to start the discussion on how to reach zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. Subsequently G-Star committed publically and published an action plan to integrate this target in our business activities. The progress report over 2012 is available below. G-Star will update and publish this progress report every year.
Studying G-Star’s commitment and action plan for implementation, Greenpeace took the view that G-Star should comply with the Greenpeace standards to reach a situation of zero discharge. Standards that go beyond international laws & regulations, that do not accept end of pipe solutions nor a risk management approach. During the last two weeks this has been discussed internally and this week we found a solid base in our G-Star organisation to make a Detox Solution Commitment with Greenpeace next to our existing commitment.