“Bluesign certified” is a term that’s being used a lot by outdoor product brands these days. For those who don’t know what Bluesign is, we wrote this blog to explain it. If you’re an outdoor brand or thinking about starting an outdoor product company, then this blog is a must read…
What is Bluesign?
In 1997, in Switzerland, an effort was made to develop a textile product with the lowest possible environmental footprint, that also improved safety for workers and consumers. In order to make this concept accessible to as many textile companies as possible, an independent company was formed from the project: BLUESIGN.
How Does the Bluesign System Work?
By inserting themselves at every step in the supply chain—from chemical formulation to finished product— the Bluesign team ensures harmful chemicals are kept out of the manufacturing process. The Bluesign team includes experts in chemistry and textile production, as well as specialists who oversee a robust system of factory auditing and certification.
The Bluesign team works with factories and brands to impact the following areas:
- Resource use: By consulting with them about better chemicals and manufacturing processes, Bluesign helps factories operate more efficiently, which reduces overall water, energy and chemical use
- Occupational health and safety: By working with manufacturers to eliminate hazardous chemicals and to put in place safety features like ventilation systems, Bluesign helps protect workers from exposure to chemicals
- Water and air emissions: Bluesign-approved factories must meet stringent standards for pollution control
- Consumer safety: The Bluesign system also features the world’s strictest chemical safety requirements for textiles
For products there are two common Bluesign certification types:
- “Contains materials that meet the Bluesign criteria”: When a product is labeled this way, that means some, but not all, of the materials in that product meet the Bluesign standard
- “Product meets the Bluesign criteria”: When a product is labeled this way, that means the full product meets Bluesign criteria
Put simply – a Bluesign certification is one of the strictest safety/sustainability certifications that a factory or product can receive.
Finding Bluesign Certified Materials & Factories
Bluesign has a FINDER tool on their website, which makes it relatively simple to find a Bluesign certified factory partner. However, many of the factories listed create specific components meaning you would have to piece together several in order to create a product that fully meets the Bluesign criteria. Blacksmith is here to help you with that process if you find it overwhelming.
Outdoor Brands – Listen up
In 2007, Patagonia became the first brand to officially join the network of Bluesign system partners. Since then, hundreds of brands, manufacturers, and chemical suppliers have joined the Bluesign club. The vast majority of the brands that have become Bluesign partners sell outdoor products. Similarly, factories that make materials for outdoor products are the most common factory partners. The most logical explanation for this is that outdoor brand consumers are more conscious of sustainable manufacturing practices.
Therefore, if you are an outdoor brand in today’s marketplace, then sustainability needs to be part of your brand strategy. Bluesign certification tags are something outdoor brand consumers know about and are checking for. REI recently established the REI Product Sustainability Standards, which outline the expectations of all brands sold at REI regarding how key environmental, social, and animal welfare impacts are managed. Bluesign is a key aspect of REI’s standards. Without a doubt, Bluesign will become increasingly more common in the outdoor community in the next several years.
Blacksmith International is a global supply chain management company. If you have questions about how to incorporate Bluesign certified materials into your supply chain, then Contact Us anytime!