Canal view

Chemicals in Production

Our Approach

In 2015, the ALDI SOUTH Group, together with 80 other international fashion retailers, committed to the goals of Greenpeace’s Detox Initiative. Through a process of substitution and elimination, we have significantly reduced the use of hazardous chemicals in our textile and footwear production.

By working with teams from across the whole group, we set ambitious standards and introduced comprehensive chemical management across all tiers in the supply chain. This has led to improved wastewater and sludge testing results, and an increased treatment of factory wastewater. A highly efficient overview of our supply chain also enables us to support strategic production facilities to meet our requirements.

We will continue to increase the scope of our work to address further environmental impacts, ranging from strengthening our commitment to more sustainable material sourcing to raising awareness of opportunities to buy more sustainably. This means that we will promote more sustainable production processes and sustainable products to enable our customers to consume sustainably.

The ALDI Detox Commitment

The ALDI SOUTH Group is excited to be one of 23 organisations to be featured in the “Better Lives through Better Business” campaign presented by The Consumer Goods Forum and produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Production.

Our Actions

Eliminating hazardous chemicals from production

Our goal is to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals used in the manufacturing processes and to replace them with safer alternatives. The following documents are key tools for this activity and form part of all relevant contracts with our business partners:

While the ZDHC MRSL defines the substances which should not be used at all or only to a limited extent for the production of merchandise intended for ALDI, the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines define threshold levels for chemical residues contained in wastewater and sludge generated by the production facilities. The ALDI RSL defines threshold levels for the finished products.

Additionally, Chemical Management Audits (CMAs) help to improve the processes in the production facilities used for ALDI products. Based on a risk assessment, we define the production facilities that should conduct a third-party CMA. All tanneries are required to hold a valid Leather Working Group (LWG) certificate to ensure a certain level of environmental compliance.

In the past six years, we have achieved a significant reduction in the use of hazardous chemicals through substitution and elimination. This has also led to improved wastewater and sludge testing results. This was only possible because of improved chemical management. In addition, we are actively removing non-compliant business partners and production facilities from our supply chain.  

 

Input Chemicals

Increasing the transparency of our supply chain

The successful implementation of responsible chemical and environmental management practices requires the collection and analysis of large amounts of data. An internal monitoring, verification, and rating system for production facilities helps us to ensure compliance with our requirements for every order.

We receive production facility data prior to delivery of the merchandise and then perform a plausibility check. In 2020, results of the wastewater and sludge analyses for 98% of our wet-production facilities were made available to us. Suppliers upload these analysis reports to the publicly accessible Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) platform. Our Corporate Responsibility Units in Asia regularly verify the provided supply chain information and compliance with our requirements during onsite assessments. As an additional important step towards increased supply chain transparency, we encourage suppliers to improve the environmental performance in their supply chain and measure it via the either amfori BEPI (Business Environmental Performance Initiative) platform or other available tools.

In 2020, we also started to publish our main production facilities for textiles and shoes on the Open Apparel registry (OAR) platform. This provides a range of information, including country of origin for cotton, the name and location of suppliers responsible for each major production step, as well as information on product care, recycling and the textile cycle in general.

We are integrating the chemical management performance of our business partners into our annual Corporate Responsibility Supplier Evaluation (CRSE) for garment textiles and shoes. This process increasingly influences our buying decisions and provides guidance to our business partners for improving their social and environmental supply chain performance. The CRSE supports long-term relationships with those business partners who demonstrate a strong sustainability record and provides incentives for continuous improvement.

Engaging with stakeholders

We strive to be proactive and transparent by maintaining open dialogue with our stakeholder groups through engagement in various partnerships, working groups and initiatives. Together we increase our understanding, select and develop tools that fit our approach and harmonise our requirements with other retailers to drive improvements into the chemical management practices across our supply chains. Through amforis Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI), we align on diverse issues, including shared chemical management audit protocols. We also support common standards and training approaches through our engagement with the Leather Working Group (LWG) and the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.

We regularly inform our stakeholders and the wider public through progress reports and updates on our next steps with respect to environmental and chemical management in our textile and shoe supply chains. This also included our international ALDI Detox Summit in 2016, which was attended by over 400 stakeholders including representatives from NGOs, scientific institutions, governmental organisations and business partners.

Providing training to internal stakeholders, business partners and production facilities

We want to understand all the different stages of the production process to help us increase our knowledge and capability so that we can improve chemical management in our supply chains. We conduct internal and external training and workshops for Buying, Quality Assurance, Corporate Responsibility Departments, business partners and selected production facilities.

One example are the Advanced Chemical Management Trainings that we have been piloting in collaboration with our regional CR Offices in Dhaka and Hong Kong since 2019. This training is jointly implemented with other brands, the German development agency GIZ and our business partners and help production facilities improve their competencies through peer learning and individual support.

Promoting sustainable consumption

We support systemic change within society, which will affect our business, our product design, our suppliers, and our customers. This change focuses on the promotion of more sustainable products and production processes as well as on responsible behaviour. It ranges from banning hazardous chemicals, improving product lifecycles and increasing recycling efforts.

Our CR Performance (2020)

Our Goal: Since 2015, we have beenare working to on phase ing out or replaceing hazardous chemicals used in the manufacturing processes for both textiles and shoes with safer alternatives.

88%

Wet production facilities submitted a compliant discharge analysis

161

Production facilities with valid Chemical Management Audit (CMA)

93%

Tanneries used held valid Leather Working Group (LWG) certificate

Our Projects & Memberships

Asian garment workers working in factory line
Special focus
Textiles

It is important to us that garment and household textiles, which are a regular component of our weekly special buys, are produced in an environmentally and socially sound way. Our goal for the future is to further expand our range of sustainable textiles and create even greater transparency in ALDI’s supply chain.

Most of our textile products are manufactured in production facilities in Asia. Our Corporate Responsibility (CR) team works closely with our textile business partners to support them in the implementation of our CR standards. Additionally, our colleagues based in Hong Kong and Bangladesh are frequently in the production facilities to assess the conditions on the ground. While we strive to improve working conditions in our production facilities, we also look at other stages of our supply chain, from cotton production over spinning to dyeing and finishing of garments.

More on 'Textiles'
amfori BEPI
Logo of amfori BEPI
Since 2017
amfori Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI)

For over 40 years, amfori has been the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade. Its mission is to support each of its members to enhance human rights, use natural resources responsibly, and drive open trade globally. It brings together over 2,000 retailers, importers, brands and associations. The ALDI SOUTH Group became a member of the Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI) in 2017.

Working together

amfori is run by Board of Directors representing the member’s interests from different countries and businesses. In June 2019, Anke Ehlers, Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility International of the ALDI SOUTH Group, was elected to the Board of Directors of amfori to represent ALDI SOUTH and ALDI Nord internationally. This shows the continuing dedication of ALDI to enhance sustainable development in our global supply chains.

More information
LWG
Logo of LWG
Since 2016
Leather Working Group (LWG)

The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a not-for-profit membership organisation for stakeholders across the leather supply chain. The LWG has developed audit protocols designed to certify leather manufacturers according to their environmental compliance and performance capabilities. The Group aims to promote sustainable business practices and create alignment on environmental priorities throughout membership and the industry as a whole. The ALDI SOUTH Group became a member in 2016.

More information
Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien
Logo of Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien
Since 2015
German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

ALDI SOUTH Germany became a member of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (German: Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien) in 2015. This multi-stakeholder initiative is committed to improving social and environmental conditions in the global textile production.

Working together

In the context of ALDI’s membership in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, we actively work on the topic of living wages by being a member of the Partnership Initiative on living wages since 2019.  Within this initiative, we are working on the improvement of our purchasing practices as these can have an immense impact on the working conditions and wage payments in production facilities used for ALDI production. As a first step, we conducted a purchasing practices self-assessment, involving our international buying, design and quality departments. Based on this gap analysis, we have developed a comprehensive roadmap together with our buying colleagues with concrete measures aiming at responsible purchasing practices.

While we are continuously working on improvements, we have conducted another survey on ALDI’s purchasing practices with our direct and indirect business partners. The results of this survey will help us to even more effectively tailor our buying processes to the needs of actors in our supply chains.

In July 2020, the ALDI SOUTH Group and 13 other members of the ‘Partnership for Sustainable Textiles’ joined the Partnership Initiative Wastewater with the aim to ensure sustainable wastewater management in the textile supply chain.

More: Textilbündnis
Four women around sheet full of cotton
© Fairtrade / Didier Gentilhomme
Project in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
Fairtrade project on cottonseed

Since 2018, ALDI SOUTH Germany has been supporting the Fairtrade project in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The project aims to empower smallholder farmers and to improve the quality and supply of cotton from Central Asia.

To reach the project goal the following measures are implemented:

  • Training for farmers on seed production and multiplication
  • Actions to combat GMO-contamination
  • Enlargement of cultivable acreage for organic cotton and yield
  • Knowledge management and sharing
© Fairtrade / Didier Gentilhomme

 

More: Fairtrade Germany
Women holding empty pesticide containers
© Cotton made in Africa
Project in Mozambique
Cotton made in Africa recycling project

In 2019, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the local cotton company SAN-JFS developed a recycling project in Mozambique. This project supports women from local farming communities who operate eco-collection points. Over 72,000 empty pesticide containers were collected and sent for recycling in the first year and benefitted up to 20,000 farmers. With the exclusive support of ALDI, the project is able to continue into a second phase and benefit even more farmers.

© Cotton made in Africa

 

More: Cotton made in Africa

Sustainable Development Goals

6 Clean water and sanitation 8 Decent work and economic growth 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure 12 Responsible consumption and production 14 Life below water 15 Life on land 17 Partnerships for the goals

UNGC

Human Rights

Principle 1

Support and respect the protection of human rights

Principle 2

Not complicit in human rights abuses

Principle 4

Elimination of forced and compulsory labour

Environment

Principle 7

Precautionary approach to environmental challenges

Principle 8

Promote environmental responsibility

Principle 9

Development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

GRI references

GRI 103: Management approach 2016

Global Reporting Initiative 103-1 Global Reporting Initiative 103-2 Global Reporting Initiative 103-3

GRI 308: Supplier environmental assessment 2016

Global Reporting Initiative 308-2