MEC-brand clothing and gear are at the core of our business. Manufacturing them represents the largest portion of our overall footprint. The textiles used, those designed to shed water, block wind, insulate, and promote movement are the crux of our commitment to responsible chemical management.
When we consider textiles and safe chemistry, we know our footprint can never be eliminated, only made smaller and lighter. Product sustainability is about developing more benign alternatives.
As this is a complex topic and terms like "safe" and "green" are often used imprecisely, we'd like to define their meanings in the context of chemical management.
Safe chemistry also referred to as green chemistry or sustainable chemistry, consists of chemicals and chemical processes designed to reduce or eliminate negative impacts to human health and the environment. The use and production of these chemicals may involve reduced waste products, non-toxic components, and improved efficiency. Safe chemistry is a highly effective approach to pollution prevention because it applies innovative scientific solutions to real-world environmental situations. Safe chemistry aligns with the US EPA Concept of Green Chemistry.
Hazardous chemicals are those that show intrinsically hazardous properties such as persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bio-accumulative (vPvB); carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic for reproduction (CMR); endocrine disruptors (ED); or chemicals of equivalent concern-not just those that have been regulated or restricted in other jurisdictions.
To focus our efforts, we ask ourselves the following questions:
As a co-op, we place a high value on the principles of co-operation and collaboration. MEC collaborates, and will continue to do so, to forge a path for responsible chemical management. Our success to date confirms the merits of this approach. And for us, it just makes sense.
Globally, MEC is a small company with a supply chain that's interwoven with others. Many of these companies have supply chains much larger than our own, and they can leverage their size to influence change in ways that we cannot. Yet being small also has advantages: we can innovate and quickly demonstrate success in the use of tools or standards.
Collaboration entails purpose, trust, and determination. Specifically, MEC is committed to reducing and eliminating hazardous chemical emissions and human health risks throughout our supply chain and in finished MEC-brand products. While the goal of eliminating hazardous chemicals is closer, we view the next few years as decisive. We are resolved to doing our part.
To find viable far-reaching chemical management solutions MEC is investing in three key initiatives:
The bluesign Standard provides MEC with third-party audits, assessments, and verification of actual impact reductions within our supply chain in respect to the environment, workers, and consumer safety.
By the end of 2012, our goal is to have 30% of MEC's apparel textiles be bluesign approved. Our Accountability Report details our progress in sourcing from facilities with environmental management systems.
Collaborating with other leading companies to establish common environmental standards largely entails advancing theEcoIndex for equipment and the V1.O Index for apparel and footwear. These indices are unprecedented, promising to create a common set of tools and criteria for companies to assess the social and environmental impacts of product manufacturing. This work is essential to help MEC and the entire industry to identify and drive improvements in the use of energy, waste, water, and hazardous chemicals in equipment and apparel supply chains. Safer chemistry is just one, albeit vital, element.
We are optimistic that 2012 will see both the OIA's EcoIndex for equipment and the SAC's V1.O Index for apparel and footwear finalized. When this happens, MEC is committed to bringing these indexes in house. We intend to use them to further guide the design and manufacture of MEC-brand products.
We are currently working with several outdoor companies of varying size who have similar product lines and supply chains as ours. Our aim is to advance responsible chemical management within our own industry. Formalized as the Chemical Management Working Group, the focus includes establishing norms and standards, conducting research, identifying best practices, and developing scientific solutions to reducing negative impacts of hazardous chemical use. The common goal is to ensure responsible chemical management can be achieved by outdoor companies of all sizes.
After all, the more we all practice responsible chemical management, the more our shared footprint shrinks.