Many of the products used by brands in the production of outdoor consumer goods contain trims — also known as accessories — that are highly chemically intensive to our natural world. These trims comprise the finishing components to backpacks and apparel: plastic buckles, metal snaps, grommets, zipper pullers and cord locks. Without trims, the end user would not possess the ability to secure a strap or zip up their jacket.
These accessories are often small things with a strong impact on the usability of an item but are often not given any attention because they only comprise a small percentage of the final product. However, since trims are produced on a massive scale to support the demands of our global economy, they can have a massive impact on the environment as they are ushered upstream throughout the manufacturing process. Fortunately, there is a plan in place for brands and manufacturers that provides the highest degree of safety for the consumer with the lowest possible impact on people and the environment, and responsible use of resources.
Using the Input Stream Management approach, Bluesign works with chemical suppliers and trims/accessory suppliers, manufacturers, brands and retailers to motivate companies to raise their awareness and lessen their environmental impact by assessing inputs in the supply chain using the strictest criteria and analysis for on-site system implementation with Bluesign partners. Specifically, the bluesign® SYSTEM has been used to overcome the challenges trims manufacturers are faced with and provide a solution for chemicals management. Bluesign has implemented trims in their system to manage risk from chemistry in production of these trims before they make their way to the consumer.
Not all trims providers have a high environmental impact, however many trims are manufactured by companies that also produce automotive parts and plastic toys, which do have a large environmental footprint. As supply chain inputs are selected, companies have the opportunity to preemptively eliminate high impact chemical suppliers using a research-based risk assessment designed by Bluesign to evaluate the suppliers using the same criteria used in assessing textiles. One such area of evaluation is next-to-skin exposure. Using the bluesign® SYSTEM offers solutions for manufacturers of these components, their production processes, and composition of the components tested on the basis of the established criteria. The partnership within the system demonstrates the impact that safer ecosystem products can have on a large scale, as most textile consumer products contain several trim items that seem small or insignificant, but when scaled up can have a massive environmental bearing.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that an estimated thirteen million workers in the U.S. alone are potentially exposed to chemicals that can enter the body through dermal (skin) absorption — the transport of a chemical from the outer surface of the skin and into the body — and can cause systemic toxicity and occupational skin diseases. Chemical agents cause this not only through direct contact, but also aerosol, immersion, and accidental splashes. Bluesign is looking to partner with companies to eliminate the hazards that can cause these occupational hazards to better protect supply chain workers.
Duraflex, the first trim partner
Berta Chen, an Assistant Manager of Sustainability, has worked for Duraflex Group for 14 years and has learned the entire industry while moving through positions in marketing, product development, administration, supply chain management, and compliance, and has also witnessed the continuous improvement steps the entire Duraflex Group has made. Duraflex, the first trims bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER, is the leading trims and fasteners manufacturer in the world and supplies buckles or trims to the outdoor industry, the fashion industry, marine sports, armies of various countries, baby products, and the automotive industry. One of the main benefits she cites in being a bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER is the ease of the company assessment used to create a roadmap for implementing healthy supply chain management.
She says, “Bluesign has an exceptional vision, while its comprehensive standards can be practically executed. We believe by implementing the Bluesign philosophy, we can have better guidelines for managing our business and gain more competitive edges, while finally achieving a sustainable business model.” In a six-year period, Duraflex, in partnership with Bluesign, has certified four of their factories that encompass all the major material inputs used in trims production. Berta Chen and Duraflex have tried to share this experience with the industry partners, and have been able to include two of their suppliers in the bluesign® SYSTEM.
Next up for Duraflex is the challenge of gaining certification for their electroplating factory, a major move forward. “After continuous Bluesign education to the supplier, including Bluesign’s philosophy, brand partnership standards, their intrinsic knowledge in lessening environmental impacts, and creating better alternatives in practice, the electroplating factory has been totally transformed from a local workshop to a brand new eco-minded facility. This is something we are very proud of,” she emphasizes. She finishes by stating, after partnering, “With Bluesign, our customer has more and more trust in us, and offers us more business opportunities, while affirming our contributions to worker’s welfare and an ecofriendly production.”
Connect with Bluesign
The direction is clear and Bluesign can do the same for your company as we have with Duraflex Trims. THE BLUE WAY creates an environment of transparency, traceability, while addressing resource scarcity. As a result, brands will be able to measure and report to consumers the strident steps taken to save water, resources, and energy. In short, becoming a Bluesign trims supplier will increase the sustainability performance of your products and company, minimize risks for people and the environment—and thus your company’s risk. In addition, this partnership will optimize your profitability and save costs, afford you the opportunity to work within a network of the best in the sector while expanding your business excellence, improve your competitive requirements, and build trust and a positive image.
Bluesign is pushing to expand its partner resource base to proactively eliminate these potential health problems from chemical trims suppliers in the supply chain. If trims suppliers do not wish to partner with Bluesign at the present time, it is highly recommended they independently check this box to minimize risk to their employees and the environment. Bluesign remains a helpful solutions provider ready to partner when that time arrives based on your research. We are here to help and possess the trustworthiness, knowledge and expertise, as well as a long list of established partners that can offer brands approved trims and bring added value to your company by using pre-approved trims suppliers that actively demonstrate a commitment to people and the environment.
If you have not researched the impact of your supply chain on your employees and the environment, we encourage you to reach out to us on our website and click the chat tab on the right of the page. If you use trims in your manufacturing, Bluesign is looking to add to its growing list of system partner chemical suppliers, and trims and accessory producers, to offer your company expanded avenues in networking to develop your business along the lines the consumer will demand more of in the future. The future of manufacturing must ensure a safe planet by building a vast community of partners looking for and already providing bluesign® APPROVED trims and accessory materials.