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How sustainable is Birkenstock ?

Birkenstock & sustainability


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Reasonable, could be better Click here for score rapport: 13 out of 36

Sustainability summary

Based on our sustainability criteria, Birkenstock has achieved the C label. The shoe brand has earned most of its points in the area of labour conditions cause all Birkenstock products are made in Germany. In order to improve the score, the company could report more concrete achievements in the field of climate change and environmental policies.

Brand owner: Birkenstock GmbH & Co. KG
Head office: Linz am Rhein, Germany
Sector: Shoes & footwear
Categories : Male, Female, Kids
Free Tags: Birkenstock, Shoes

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Birkenstock sustainability score report

Last edited: 23 February 2015 by Mario
Last reviewed: 23 February 2015 by Mario

Questions about Climate Change/ Carbon Emissions

1 out of 6
1. Is there a policy for the brand to minimize, reduce or compensate carbon emissions? Birkenstock has taken several policy measures to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption such as improving their large leather punches, implementing environmentally-friendly energy generation plants, and using combined heat and power plants. Source
2. Has the brand (company) disclosed the annual carbon footprint of its 'own operations' and has the brand already reduced or compensated 10% of these emissions in the last 5 years? Birkenstock claims that the energy consumption has reduced by more than 90% in the last 30 years. However, Birkenstock does not communicate a carbon footprint. Source
3. Is at least 50% of the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? Birkenstock generates a part of its energy use for electricity on-site. However, Birkenstock is neither clear about the type of energy nor the proportion of total electricity use. Source
4. Is all the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? See remark for carbon emissions policy question 3. Source
5. Has the brand (company) set a target to reduce the carbon footprint of its 'own operations' by at least 20% within the next 5 years? Birkenstock does not communicate any information on target reductions for its carbon emissions, if there is any, on its website. Source
6. Does the brand (company) also have a policy to reduce/compensate carbon emissions generated from the product supply chain that is beyond own operations? Birkenstock has combined heat and power plants for its production processes, such as the cork footbed drying process (click 'Environmental Protection' under 'Tradition'), but no specific policy to reduce carbon emissions in the supply chain is mentioned. Source

Questions about Environmental Policy

1 out of 16
1. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 5% of its volume? Birkenstock only uses natural and sustainable materials such as cork, latex and jute for the footbed. However Birkenstock does not communicate about the rubber used for the outsole and the leather used for the upper part of the shoes. Source
2. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 10% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
3. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 25% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
4. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 50% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
5. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 75% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
6. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 90% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
7. Does the brand have a clear and effective policy to avoid the use of leather that originates from cattle farms in deforestated Amazone areas? Birkenstock states that all sources for its raw materials supplies are identified, but does not openly communicate a policy to prevent the destruction of rainforest caused by cattle farm expansion for meat and leather production (see link, p.9). Source
8. Does the brand (company) have a clear and effective policy to minimize environmental pollution of chromium and other harmful substances from leather tanning processes, e.g. by waste water treatment or by vegetable tanning? Birkenstock does not openly communicate about the policy for environmentally friendly leather tanning. However, some products are made of vegetable tanned leather (see link, p.151). Source
9. Is there a policy for the brand (company) to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures to make the footwear? Birkenstock reports to use 95% environmental friendly adhesives. However, the company does not communicate a policy to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole life cycle. Source
10. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least one suspect chemical group, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? Birkenstock does not report whether at least 1 out of 11 suspect chemical groups, such as Heathy Metals or Chlorophenols can be considered as fully phased-out in the entire production chain. Source
11. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least three suspect chemical groups, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? See remark for environmental policy question 10. Source
12. Does the brand (company) have a clear target to phase out PVC in their products, and has the brand already achieved a PVC phase out level of more than 90%? Birkenstock does not report about having a plan to phase out PVC in their products. Sustainability information should be easily accessible to enable consumers to make more responsible choices. Source
13. Has the brand (company) a clear and effective policy to minimize the use of solvents based chemicals in their shoe production, and has the brand already achieved a level of average max. 40 grams of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions per pair of shoes? Birkenstock uses almost exclusively water soluble and solventfree adhesives in its manufacturing. However the brand does not report the VOC emissions per pair of shoe produced. Source
14. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize the environmental impact of its shipping packaging and carrier bags, by reducing, re-using, recycling and responsible sourcing of packaging materials, and does the brand annually report on these results? Birkenstock does not report on the annual results of its consumer packaging policy. Source
15. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize waste, by reducing, re-using and recycling, and does the brand annually report the results? Birkenstock does not report on the annual results of its waste reduction policy. Source
16. Does the brand (company) encourage the return or re-use of garments? Birkenstock does not offer a customer service to return worn out shoes, but a repair service to increase the life span of its shoes. Source

Questions about Labour Conditions/ Fair Trade

11 out of 14
1. Does the brand (company) have a supplier Code of Conduct (CoC) which includes the following standards: No forced or slave labor, no child labor, no discrimination of any kind and a safe and hygienic workplace? All products are made in Germany, which is a low risk country as defined by MADE-BY. Source
2. Does this CoC include at least two of the following workers rights: 1. to have a formally registered employment relationship 2. to have a maximum working week of 48 hours with voluntary and paid overtime of 12 hours maximum 3. to have a sufficient living wage? See remark for labor conditions policy question 1. Source
3. Does this Code of Conduct include the right for workers to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively; and in those situations where these rights are restricted under law, the right to facilitate parallel means of independent and free association and bargaining? See remark for labor conditions policy question 1. Source
4. Does this labour conditions policy also apply further down the production chains, at least covering the leather production or the animal farms? Birkenstock does not make clear if there is a labour conditions policy further down the footwear production chain, such as leather tanning or cattle farms. Source
5. Does the brand (company) have a published list of direct suppliers, that have collectively contributed to more than 90% of the purchase volume? Birkenstock reports that all products are made in its own factories in Germany. Source
6. Is the brand (company) a member of a collective initiative that aims to improve labor conditions, or does the brand (company) purchase its supplies from accredited factories with improved labor conditions? All products are made in Germany, which is a low risk country as defined by MADE-BY. Source
7. Do independent civil society organizations like NGO's and labor unions have a decisive voice in this collective initiative or in these certification schemes? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
8. Is there a policy for the brand (company) for capacity building at the apparel manufacturers for improved labour practices? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
9. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy? Is at least 90% of the brands production volume from apparel manufacturers monitored for labour conditions? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
10. Is at least 25% of the production volume from apparel manufacturers approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FWF, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
11. Is at least 50% of the production volume from apparel manufacturers approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FWF, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
12. Does the brand (company) implement a policy to establish the payment of living wages at its apparel manufacturers? Are at least first living wage payments realised? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
13. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy for the leather, yarn and fabric production phases, including a reasonable overview of the number and region of workplaces covered by the policy in relation to the total production volume? Birkenstock does not report on results of its labour conditions policy for the fabric manufacturing phases. Source
14. Are at least 50% of the brand's leather, yarn and fabric production phases approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FLO-Cert, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 13. Source