We have a responsibility to minimize the negative impact our business has on the environment. We work to contribute to a more sustainable industry and a more sustainable future. Our goal is to limit our environmental footprint by preventing the negative impact of our products throughout the entire life cycle. This means that we must make conscious choices in every step of the product lifecycle from design and development to customer usage that make the footprint a little smaller.
Towards more sustainable products
Varner works continuously to improve our products and offer more sustainable choices for the customer while at the same time placing great emphasis on maintaining product safety. Everything from zipper selection and buttons to risk analysis of children's products and work with chemical restrictions fall under this work.
Product safety and chemicals
It is crucial that the products we offer our customers are safe. Product safety is a priority and we have a dedicated team working to ensure that our products meet strict safety requirements.
We have developed chemical restrictions that all manufacturers must follow. The restrictions are regularly updated and are followed up through a comprehensive testing program. Tests are carried out during production to ensure that the products do not contain harmful chemicals. We work with internationally renowned laboratories to assist us and our manufacturers in this work.
We are a member of the Chemicals Group. This is a Swedish-based interest group lead by the research institution RISE, which brings together textile companies who want to reduce the use of chemicals in the production processes.
This is the Varner Restricted Substances List (RSL). This is a list of chemicals that shall not be found in the products above the quantities mentioned.
More sustainable fibers
Varner's goal is to use 100% more sustainable fibers by the end of 2030.By more sustainable fiber we mean fibers that are categorized as preferred fibers by the Textile Exchange.
For cotton, this is BCI, Organic, recycled and Fairtrade and you can read more about these certifications here.
For synthetic fibers, it involves, among other things, recycling the resources to reuse what has already been used. Read more about all the different recycled materials, both synthetic and natural, that we use here.
This work also involves choosing fiber produced from biological resources rather than using oil, ie choosing bio-synthetic fibers and choosing materials that are certified to different standards and certification schemes.
Varner is a member of the Textile Exchange which owns the majority of standards we use. We are involved in maintaining these standards and developing new ones where needed. These standards are Responsible Down Standard, Responsible Wool Standard, Organic Content Standard, Global Recycled Standard and Recycled Claim Standard.
Other certifications we use are Fairtrade Cotton, Better Cotton Initiative and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Microplastics that are separated from products made of plastic material are a challenge we share with several industries. Microplastics come from disposable plastic, car tires, synthetic clothing and more.
Synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester and nylon release microplastics when the garment is in use. This is a problem that has come to light relatively recently and there is a lack of research evidence on how this can be prevented. Therefore, Varner is involved in several projects to study how the amount of microplastics can be measured and what is actually happening in our seas with the microplastics that end up there.
The project is about understanding the environmental behaviour and impacts of microplastic fibres (MPFs) in the aquatic environment, in order to develop a decision support framework that enables garment manufacturers to make environmentally informed choices in their material selection.
MinShed is a three year research project with the overall goal to create knowledge which will help the textile industry to design clothes made of synthetic fabrics which do not emit microplastics.
Towards a more sustainable production
Through dialogue and continuous controls, we work to ensure that environmental regulations are complied with and that there is a continuous improvement in the environmental management systems of our suppliers.
Factories are required to have a system for controlling and monitoring the use of chemicals in production processes. There is considerable use of water in some production processes, and manufacturers are required to treat the waste water according to strict procedures. The factories will have management systems to optimize and reduce the use of water and energy resources as well as control and follow regulations related to waste management.
The textile industry is very water demanding at every stage of the product life cycle. Large quantities of water are included in both cotton harvesting and production. Therefore, we as an industry have an important responsibility for continuous work with improvement in this area. We impose strict requirements on our manufacturers in relation to water treatment, chemical handling, waste management and emissions.
In 2016, we became the first Norwegian company to become a member of the Sweden Textile Water Initiative, STWI. Together with a number of other players in the industry, we will work together to improve the major environmental factors in the textile industry, such as water, energy and chemicals.
Jeanologia is an enterprise that works to improve denim production processes by increasing productivity while reducing water, energy and chemical consumption and eliminating the most harmful emissions and wastes at the same time.
We are seeing a gradual transition to circular business models in our industry. We are not yet on target, but we are moving forward. One challenge we share with the entire industry is to move from a linear economy to a circular economy. The materials that go into our products are resources that need to be reused. Switching to a circular business model is complex and takes time. One must therefore start in several places at the same time and be ambitious in setting goals.
Using recycled materials in new products is a good place to start as it increases demand and production of these types of materials. We look for recycled materials that are certified according to the Global Recycled Standard or Recycled Content Standard. Here you can read about the recycled materials we use in our products.
In order to get a long-lasting product, one must often include a proportion of new fiber to manage durability. For us, it is important that the products we produce are durable and of good quality.
We also focus on designing recyclable products. By this we mean to produce products that are fit to go back into a circular loop in a simple way and become something new. We have products certified with Cradle to Cradle that focus on just that.
Textile recycling is and has been a bottleneck because most textiles today are blends of different fibers to achieve the best durability and quality of the products. It is difficult to separate the different fibers in the process and get out materials that can be used for the same type of fabric again.
However, there is a lot going on in this field now, and Varner is part of one project called WargoTex Development where several parts of the industry and institutions are looking at opportunities to scale up textile recycling in a good way.
Other things that help close the loop are to wear clothes longer, reuse clothes, repair broken clothes, make new things of things you would throw away, and choose products with materials that are a little better for the environment, which you can see on our labels for certifications we have chosen. You can read about all the different materials we use here.
Varner aims to limit the number of surplus goods. Varner has partnered with Fretex. The agreement applies to all chains in all countries and means that all surplus goods and defective goods are donated to Fretex and its partners. Goods that do not meet our health, environmental and safety requirements cannot be passed on and destroyed.
The clothes donated are either sold on to charity income or given away. A certain proportion is recycled, and some goes to energy production.
In most of our stores there are collection boxes from Fretex where you can recycle your clothes.
Varner uses several product certifications. For environment certification we have choosen the Swan and Cradle to Cradle, to mention a few.
The Nordic Ecolabel is the Nordic region's official and independent sustainability mark that a product can receive if production meets stringent environmental requirements and is considered in a life cycle perspective. This applies from fiber to finished product. The cotton is organic, the polyester is recycled and there are strict restrictions on which chemicals are allowed to be used and requirements on how the waste water should be handled after production.
Products that meet the Nordic Ecolabel criteria carry the well-known Swan logo.
Cradle to cradle (C2C)
A product certified after the Cradle 2 Cradle certification has been produced in the most sustainable way possible with the entire lifecycle in focus, from fiber to end of product life. The product must be as circular as possible and this means that fiber, chemicals, energy consumption, carbon dioxide management, water management and social aspects must be considered together.
The certification scheme is based on continuous improvement and is divided into several different levels based on the product's performance.
We mainly use ship freight to collect the goods from the production country to the store. We are working to limit air cargo as much as possible and fortunately there are very few products that are transported by air today. We are also looking at projects to transport goods by train from Asia as a good alternative to boats. Our main goal is to choose the most environmentally friendly and efficient shipping method possible.