Chemical ResponsibilityThe North Face® business is built on designing products of unrivaled performance to allow people to push the limits of what is humanly possible. We focus on this goal each and every day, while also holding firm to high standards of consumer, environmental and worker safety.
Certain chemicals play important roles in helping us deliver products with specific technical benefits to protect people from the elements and provide durability. When we design these products, we ensure that the manufacturing processes and procedures exceed or are compliant with all federal and international regulations. But we don’t stop there.
The North Face also maintains an industry-leading partnership with bluesign® technologies to further reduce the environmental impact of our supply chain through the responsible management and selection of chemicals
Additionally, our Restricted Substance List (RSL) identifies the chemical substance restrictions for all The North Face products, including apparel, footwear, equipment, accessories and others. This list contains chemical substances that are restricted due to a variety of reasons, including global regulation and legislation, safety and environmental risk.
We require our suppliers, business partners and licensees to study the RSL carefully, we work with them to implement management processes to produce compliant products, and test products to verify compliance to the RSL. Each of our vendors must certify his or her compliance with the RSL by executing a RSL Compliance Agreement.
PFC’s (perfluorinated chemicals) are a class of chemical substances that belong to the larger family known as fluorinated chemicals. These are a wide range of chemical substances that are very different in their composition and environmental profiles.
The North Face currently uses fluorinated chemistry to deliver high performance characteristics in our products including water, stain and oil repellency as well as durability. Our use of these chemicals is conducted responsibly and exceeds or is compliant with all federal and international regulations governing chemical use.
The German Environment Agency (UBA) has recently conducted some analyses of PFCs in the waterproofing components of a range of outdoor garments, including The North Face. You can read more about the results, and our own tests, here.
Collaboration & Transparency
In addition to our commitment to meeting all regulations, we are always working to identify new and innovative ways to increase the sustainability of our supply chain. We are working closely alongside our industry peers to evaluate commercially available technologies that meet our performance requirements while having even less impact on the planet we share. One example is our participation in the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Chemical Working Group (CMWG).
The CMWG was formed in spring 2011 as a subgroup of the OIA Sustainability Working Group to establish shared approaches and tools for the assessment and management of chemicals and their potential impacts on humans and the environment across product life cycles. We envision and strive to create a world in which all consumer products are produced using Green Chemistry practices, ultimately using inherently safer chemicals and reducing or eliminating hazardous chemicals, in order to preserve human health and a clean environment.
Through this collaboration, we are examining the use of Durable Water Repellency treatments in the outdoor industry, including identifying performance requirements and exploring potential alternatives to traditional chemistries. Please visit here to learn more about the Outdoor Industry Association Chemical Working Group.
We strongly believe in the power of collaboration to affect change. Our development of the Eco Index through the OIA Sustainability Working Group is a testament to this success. The Eco Index became the foundation for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition Higg Index, a tool used to measure the environmental and social performance of apparel and footwear products.
In keeping with our commitment to using collaboration to develop solutions, we are also active members of the following organizations:
- European Outdoor Group (EOG)
- Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
- Apparel and Footwear International RSL workgroup (AFIRM)
- Leather Working Group (LWG)
- American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA)
- Global Apparel, Footwear and Textile Initiative (GAFTI)
- Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3)
- Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
- Textile Exchange
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Clean by Design program
The Road Ahead
Our commitment to our customers and the environment is to apply innovative thinking and open collaboration to develop sustainable long term solutions in product performance and environmental responsibility. These two factors are, at times, a delicate balance and we are committed to being transparent about our progress on this journey to sustainability, please check back for updates.