Kompass Nachhaltigkeit

Öffentliche Beschaffung

What you should take into consideration when purchasing Apparel and Textiles

Public sector purchasing accounts for a high proportion of overall sales of textiles and apparel. In Germany alone, the work wear industry generated a turnover of 2,749 million euros in 2012. 

Learn more about social and ecological challenges in clothing and textile production. You can minimise negative impacts of the production process on environment and society by purchasing sustainably. This reduces the use of chemicals, for example, and improves labour rights.

Here you can find general information on the purchasing process.

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Supply chain in detail

Click on the individual stages in the information graphic on the left to learn more about the ecological and social challenges when procuring apparel and textiles.

01 Extraction of crude fibres

The production of textiles begins with the extraction of crude fibres. Examples for ecological and social challenges when extracting natural or synthetic fibres may include:

Ecological challenges – natural fibres (e.g. cultivation of cotton)

    • Use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers
    • Land usage
    • Land degradation e.g. through saliniszation of the soil
    • Use of genetically modified seeds
    • High water and energy consumption

    Social challenges – natural fibres (in the cultivation firms)

      • Low wages
      • Lack of social security and irregular income
      • Inadequate protection of workers from harmful pesticides
      • Child and forced labour

      Ecological challenges – synthetic fibres (in the production)

      • Use of chemicals
      • Consumption of crude oil
      • High energy consumption

      Social challenges – synthetic fibres (in the firms)

      • Low wages
      • Inadequate protection of workers from harmful chemicals

      02 Production

      During the production of textiles, crude fibres are processed into threads and fabrics. This creates the following ecological and social challenges, for example:

      Ecological challenges

      • Improper use of chemicals
      • High energy consumption

      Social challenges

      • Low wages
      • Health damage caused by lack of precautions for handling chemicals and machinery
      • Child and forced labour

      03 Processing

      After processing crude fibres into fabrics, further processing is carried out, including refinement, for instance. This can create the following ecological and social challenges:

      Ecological challenges

      • Use of chemicals for special textile characteristics (e.g. water-repellent) or use of toxic dyes
      • High water and energy consumption

      Social challenges 

      • Low wages
      • Extremely high levels of, and often unpaid, overtime
      • Prohibition of employee representatives
      • Damage to health caused by poor lighting or inadequate ventilation in production rooms
      • Inadequate work safety precautions
      • Child and forced labour

      04 Consumption

      The use of textiles by the customer can present the following ecological and social challenges:

      Ecological challenges

      • Excessive use of detergents harmful to the environment
      • High water and energy consumption in cleaning

      Social challenges

      • Health hazards from vapours and contact to chemically treated textiles

       

       

      05 Disposal

      Disposing of textiles can create ecological challenges such as emissions and contamination during incineration and landfilling.

      06 Transport

      Cotton from Kenya, fabrics from Turkey and processing of apparel in Bangladesh. That's how supply chains in the textiles sector often look like. From the extraction of crude fibres to the final product there are long transport routes to be covered. Fuel consumption and exhaust emissions have a negative impact on the environment and contribute to climate change. Furthermore they are harmful for human health. For transportation with heavy goods vehicles the Euro 6 emission standard (Commission Regulation EU/582/2011) has to be applied and should be integrated into the procurement process.

       

      01.Rohfasergewinnung

      Anbau bzw. Herstellung der Natur- und Kunstfasern (z.B. Baumwolle und Polyester)

      02.Produktion

      Die Rohfasern werden durch Spinnen, Weben und Stricken zur Garnen, Fasern und Stoffen weiterverarbeitet)

      03.Weiterverarbeitung

      Die Textilien werden veredelt (d.h. gefärbt und mit speziellen Eigenschaften (z.B. wasserabweisend) ausgestattet) und konfektioniert)