Royal Smit & Zoon achieves highest level of ZDHC certification and thus proves to lead the leather industry in sustainability

Since you have reached this web page, you must be interested to learn more about ZDHC Certification and what is behind it. Below you can find all kind of questions and, more importantly, also the answers to them.

What is ZDHC?
ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) is an organisation aiming to reduce the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals in the fashion supply chain. It started in 2011 with 6 brands, as a reaction to the Detox campaign by Greenpeace [Link: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/act/detox/]. Currently, over 150 contributors (‘members’) are jointly working to reach this goal.

Why does Royal Smit & Zoon support ZDHC?
To create a social and environmentally sustainable leather supply chain is one of Royal Smit & Zoon’s priorities. We think that by joining an initiative supported by a large part of the fashion supply chain our efforts will be more effective. Furthermore, this initiative is specifically focussing on chemicals and waste water.

What has Royal Smit & Zoon done?
Royal Smit & Zoon joined ZDHC as a contributor in early 2018. We have uploaded our products produced in our Dutch and Chinese factories into the GateWay. These products are now Confidence Level 3 certified. To have the biggest impact possible, we specifically decided to go for the highest level: level 3.

What is the ZDHC GateWay?
The GateWay is an online database of ZDHC MRSL compliant products. The advantage of this database is that leather manufacturers can easily verify the confidence level of the chemicals they use. At the same time the brands can verify the percentage of MRSL compliant products in the articles they bring to the market.

What is the ZDHC MRSL?
We have seen RSLs, Restricted Substances Lists, in the leather industry for many years. An RSL defines specifications to the final leather product; its main intention is to protect the consumer. An MRSL, a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List, on the contrary, has a wider scope. It sets restrictions for all chemicals used in the production process. It, thus, also includes chemicals emitted to the wastewater and air. In this way, not only the consumer is protected, but also the impact on the safety of workers and the environment is improved. ZDHC introduced its MRSL for leather in 2015. It is a document supported by the industry, which means that only relevant substances are included. The ZDHC MRSL is updated in a 2-year cycle.

How does Royal Smit & Zoon use the ZDHC MRSL?
Royal Smit & Zoon has developed its own Restricted Substances Policy. Part of this policy is that we don’t want substances on the ZDHC MRSL in any of our raw materials. Assuming that ZDHC MRSL substances are not generated unintentionally in our production process, we can conclude that our products comply with the requirements of the ZDHC MRSL.

What is the value of certification?
Claiming that our products are compliant is one thing, but this claim is much stronger when it is done by an independent, trusted third party. In the ZDHC Gateway this is indicated by a confidence level 1 to 3. Where level 1 is based on an analysis of one sample, level 3 includes a site visit by a certification body and inspection of procedures and products. By having our products certified we show that delivering a compliant product is not a ‘lucky shot’ but the result of a planned and safe process.

Which are the possible next steps from the brands?
We expect that Brands connected to the ZDHC will increasingly request their supply chain to work with chemicals that are registered in the Gateway. Brands are challenged by the ZDHC to exclusively work with Gateway registered products, with an expected growing popularity for chemicals with the highest Confidence Level (Level 3).

What does this certification mean for brands and consumers?
For consumers this means another step in assuring that leather is produced under safe conditions for people and the environment and that leather is a safe material to use. For brands this means that there is the possibility to assess confidence level of the chemicals in their supply chain and use responsible chemistry.

How can you communicate the value for our customers?
For many of our customers, working with ZDHC brands, it will be a big benefit to work with Royal Smit & Zoon products, because they know that many of our products are registered already with a clear focus on registration of all our products within 2020. Many of our competitors are neither a contributor of ZDHC yet, nor have registered their products on the Gateway. For several of them it will be a hard job to get Confidence Level 3. In other words, talk to your customers and share the news that Royal Smit & Zoon is securing their future.

What will follow?
We will expand certification to all our production sites to finally cover our whole product portfolio. Apart from that, Royal Smit & Zoon is also increasingly active in ZDHC Task Teams which shows that we are one of the leading companies working to create a 100% social and environmentally sustainable leather supply chain.

For any further information, please get in touch. Or reed more information on the website of ZDHC.