First Mile
Responsible materials traced from bottle to finished product.

First Mile Policies and Certifications

 
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POlicies +
memberships

 

B-CORPORTATION

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Being a B Corp means we’re part of a club; a new generation of commerce where “business” is no longer a dirty word, but an opportunity to solve the world’s most pressing problems. We’re excited about the chance to share best (and worst) practices, collaborate on new products & opportunities, and use the critical mass of the B Corp community to help make transparency and responsibility a matter of course for all businesses.

All B Corps go through a rigorous Impact Assessment process every two years. Details on our most recent scoring assessment are available in the downloadable PDF at the right side of the page.

 

CE 100

The Circular Economy 100 brings together members from across the economy to provide unique opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration. Member groups include corporations, governments and cities, academic institutions, emerging innovators, small and medium sized enterprises, and affiliates. Find our membership page on the CE100 website.

 
 

child labor avoidance policy

Thread seeks to create the most transparent and responsible textile supply-chains on the planet. Human rights of the workers represented in our supply chain are of utmost importance to our company, chief among those rights, avoiding child labor at every step of our supply chain.

POLICY

Thread maintains a Code of Conduct with each of our suppliers, based on best practices from leaders within the textile and apparel industry, including brands such as Patagonia and Levis. Thread’s Code of Conduct is also based on standards set forth by the International Labour Organization and the UN convention on the Rights of the Child.

As outlined in Thread’s Code of Conduct:

“Thread does not accept child labor, and strictly disapproves of the hiring of any person under the age of 15.”

CONSEQUENCES

In the event that a supplier fails to cooperate and fails to comply with Thread’s Code of Conduct, Thread will not rule out the option of terminating the suppliers’ contract and legally barring them from any future business opportunities with Thread.

ASSURANCE AND VALIDATION

All of Thread’s suppliers are formally audited on an annual basis by Thread’s Impact Department to ensure compliance with all aspects of Thread’s Code of Conduct as well as to identify areas of social and environmental improvement.

Suppliers are also subject to unannounced visits by Thread’s impact department. Facilities are visited in person at minimum quarterly. Thread has found no employees under the age of 18 working in a processing facility or recycling plant it has certified in its supply chains.

Dangerous working condition and lack of formal recognition are notorious risks to individuals working in recycling collection in developing countries. In recent years, in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay have formed national associations of waste pickers with recognition and support from their respective governments. In other parts of the world, particularly Asia, Africa, and the Philippines recycling, especially at the collector level, is largely unregulated.

 
 

COLLECTORS

The collection level of Thread’s supply chain is the most difficult to audit and verify as any individual is welcome to bring recyclable material to recycling centers and receive payment in exchange for the recyclables. Thread implements surveys and interviews on a regular and ongoing basis with the individuals selling recyclables to the collection centers we partner with. Information on these individuals are stored in a database allowing us to record specific, concrete data at this level of our supply chain.

These surveys and interviews are used to verify the existence or avoidance of children under 15 working full time in plastic collection. Thread’s Impact Department makes random, unannounced visits to collection centers in person to observe the operations of the centers and interview plastic collectors. Thread’s Haiti Field manager visits our suppliers in person regularly, sending up to date data, photos, and videos of collection centers to Thread’s Impact Department.

The majority of recycling collectors we have met and interviewed are over the age of 18, or collect plastic as part time income in addition to attending school full time. However, in 2016, Thread’s Impact Department became aware of individuals under the age of 15 who collect plastic full time to generate income that is vital to their and their families’ well-being. Further complicating the issue is that no one is directly hiring these children since they operate independently. As such, there is no single supplier that Thread can hold responsible for violating the terms of our Code of Conduct.

Thread recognizes that child labor at this level of our supply chain is a complicated and nuanced problem that we are determined to address directly and impact positively. The necessity of children contributing to household income is deeply rooted in extreme poverty. In 2016, Thread made a public commitment through the Clinton Global Initiative in partnership with Timberland, HP, Team Tassy and ACOP. This CGI Commitment will directly address child labor, bringing educational opportunities as well as access to healthcare and jobs training for the families of these children. Thread recognizes that the whole family must be involved for there to be lasting change and is taking a holistic approach to addressing child labor in the neighborhood of Molea. Thread is also working with the recycling collection center owners in these communities to track these cases and ensure that all programs are lead by the communities where child labor is occurring. We are committed to plans of action that address the causes of extreme poverty rather than focusing on eliminating the symptoms.

Thread recognizes that we cannot physically be present in every household that may be participating in plastic collection in our supply chains, but will continue to be as diligent as is possible when it comes to the avoidance of child labor in our supply chains. In keeping with our commitment to transparency, any strategy, programs, and partnerships developed to address child labor will be documented and made open source so that other companies may learn from our experience.

 
 

CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE

OVERVIEW

Thread, a certified B corp, transforms waste in the poorest parts of the world and utilizes it as a resource to create useful products, commits to improving conditions in the Truitier landfill area in Haiti. While trash collection is met with significant social stigma, participation in recycling provides critical economic opportunities for the community. Thread recognizes that these conflicting forces exist in underserved communities globally, and will reframe recycling as a sustainable industry that brings pride to the communities who contribute material inputs. This commitment in Haiti will serve as a pilot that can be scaled to other countries that Thread operates in.

Through this commitment, Thread will impact the lives of the estimated 200 children earning income through the collection of recyclables in Truitier, as well as their immediate families. To do so, Thread will partner with Team Tassy, a non-profit organization with service and geographic expertise in the Truitier area, which is uniquely positioned to implement scholarships, jobs training and provide access to health care to the children and families targeted by this commitment. Thread will also work with ACOP (Association des Collecteurs des Objets en Plastique), an association of 13 members in the Molea neighborhood that collect and buy plastic materials. ACOP has identified child labor as a critical issue and will assist in the implementation of scholarships, food, and transportation support for children working to collect and sell recyclables. While the majority of individuals working in recycling are men and boys, this approach will also engage women and girls – offering them educational opportunities, leadership development, and professional development skills.

To improve conditions at the Truitier landfill and its surrounding community, Thread and its partners will first conduct a study to identify the individuals in and around Truitier who are making a living from waste collection, and offer:

– Health and safety training provided to an estimated 300 individuals involved in collecting waste and connection to existing services in these neighborhoods to raise awareness about healthcare access
– Educational and professional development opportunities, ensuring scholarships to the estimated 200 children earning income through the collection of recyclables in order to develop their skill sets so that they can pursue more sustainable careers within the recycling industry or in other industries in Haiti.
– Investment of $150,000 to entrepreneurs, microenterprises, and/or small-to-medium enterprises in Haiti. These entrepreneurs will be individuals working in recycling in Molea and identified by Thread and ACOP.
– Team Tassy will expand their in-country staff to ensure that the outlined services are provided to this new population, resulting in the creation of five full time jobs and three temporary jobs.

Simultaneously, Thread will partner with global brands such as Timberland and HP that are committed to utilizing recycled content in their products, while ensuring dignified working conditions and human rights of landfill workers. Timberland will purchase yarn made from recycled plastic bottles collected in Haiti for use in its apparel and footwear products.

By December 31, 2016, data collection will be complete, ensuring understanding of the breadth of individuals working in waste collection in Truitier as well the scope of programming that will be provided. Team Tassy will train ACOP’s members to assist with interviews and data collection.
By December 31, 2016 HP will have started sourcing recycled PET from Thread to produce printer cartridges. HP will be sourcing plastic from Haiti, while working closely with Thread to improve quality and the specifications needed to utilize material sourced from Haiti.

In addition to funding this specific program, HPs investment in recycled material will provide crucial export opportunities for the countries Thread works in while increasing their participation in the circular economy.

In March 2017, Timberland will release shoes and bags made with fabric from recycled polyester that has been collected and processed in Haiti. Timberland products are directly improving waste conditions in Haiti as well as providing immense value to the businesses supplying the recycled material there. Timberland remains committed to Haiti and in addition to funding this commitment uses recycled material sourced from Haiti, including the Truiter landfill in their products.

By December 31, 2017, Team Tassy will administer basic full physical exams for the 200 children working in Truitier, providing medical records for those who do not have one and prioritizing cases based on the severity of illnesses. These exams will be carried out in Team Tassy’s medical facility partners: Hopital Fontaine for primary care; Hopital Adventiste Daquini for specialist needs; and Hopital Bernard Mevs for trauma care. Ongoing service will be made available to all family members. Once urgent needs are identified and taken care of, preventative care workshops for the 200 children and their family members will be administered.

 

Between January 2016 and March 2016, Thread and ACOP will provide safety and sanitation trainings to an estimated 300 individuals working in waste collection in Molea, regarding how to avoid hazards while collecting waste, as well as distribute safety equipment to the identified waste collectors. Waste collectors will be identified by ACOP, whose members are buying plastic from these collectors, and already have relationships in place.

By October 31, 2017, Thread will enroll eligible students in Team Tassy’s scholarship program, which includes full tuition and educational support at an approved school and office hours for out of school time support. There are several schools in the community where students can enroll. Preference for the scholarship program will be given to children who are currently working full time in plastic collection. Team Tassy’s scholarship program has four criteria: complete application with previous school report card; basic grade requirements; regularly attend Team Tassy office hours to receive tutoring; attend a school approved by Team Tassy.

By October 31, 2018, Team Tassy will provide job training to an estimated 300 people working in waste collection in Truitier, including a focus on communication skills, timeliness, teamwork, customer service, work ethic, and interview etiquettes for those who are work-ready. Additional core training components will include basics of financial management, English language, computer skills, and driving skills. Family members placed into jobs will be provided with additional professional development support including mentorship and regular check ins to enable them to be successful in the workplace. Once individuals reach independence, they will become a Team Tassy graduates and will be expected to lend a helping hand to the next family member enrolled in the program.

By October 31, 2019, individuals who complete Team Tassy’s training program will be placed into jobs with organizations in Haiti that Team Tassy will help to identify. Entrepreneurs with sound business ideas will also be offered support within Thread’s Micro-Loan program to see their ideas to implementation.

BACKGROUND

There is tremendous potential in utilizing waste as a resource to generate income, create new industry and exports, and clean up neighborhoods. Recycling offers an opportune entry point for low-income countries to participate in the circular economy – an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. Circular economies see “waste” as valuable input materials and encourage the re-use of existing material rather than procurement of virgin resources for production. Circular economy design and thinking could spur innovation allowing low-income countries to leap frog the cradle to grave/landfill model prevalent in so many industrialized nations. However, individuals collecting waste around the world remain at risk, often operating in hazardous working conditions, with little opportunities for upward mobility or advancement and at risk to instances of child labor.

The Truitier landfill is located in the neighborhoods of Molea and Menelas in Cite Soleil, and serves the city and greater area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While Truitier provides much needed income opportunities for the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods (collectors make an average of approximately $3.57 per day – above the country average of $2.24), individuals working to collect recycled material from the landfill face numerous risks. Unsafe working conditions include exposure to hazardous waste, such as medical waste from nearby hospitals, unsafe transportation on the trucks that deliver and transport waste, and social stigma that is associated to collecting recyclables. In addition, there are an estimated 200 children (aged 8-12) working in the collection of recyclable materials from the Truitier landfill.

Truitier is just one example of the challenges facing global recycling, as these circumstances are prevalent around the world. The income generated by these individuals, including children, is critical to their survival and the survival of their families. Stopping this work is thus not a practical nor a helpful solution. Instead, we must approach the root causes of systemic poverty in a holistic way, bringing opportunity and dignity to this part of recycling supply chains.

PARTNERSHIPS

Best practice information, surrounding child labor, funding support, and brands who are utilizing recycled materials in their supply chains and want the opportunity to have unprecedented supply chain engagement at this level.

Thread is offering implementing partners more than five years of working experience in the recycling and waste collection space in Haiti, in-country staff, an excellent track record in impact reporting, and collaborative story-telling capabilities.

 
 
 

Supplier Code of Conduct

Thread is a for-profit company with the mission of transforming waste from the poorest countries into dignified jobs and useful stuff people love. Thread’s business model is based on a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit – valuing the environment, individuals, and communities as importantly as the financial impact of the company. Thread operates as a transparent company, holding our company to a high ethical standard as a benchmark for others to emulate. Thread seeks to work with supply chains and partners who meet or are willing to work towards these standards, and increase the positive impact of their business.

PURPOSE

Thread’s Code of Conduct is based on the United Nations Global Compact principles and aligns with the International Labor Organization and other internationally recognized standards. Thread seeks suppliers and partners who share our core values and strive for best practices in social and environmental responsibility. Thread approves the supply chains we do business with based on the terms outlined in this code of conduct. Thread’s Code of Conduct applies to every step in the supply chain – from the moment individuals pick up recycled materials until those materials become finished products sold to consumers. Thread will translate these terms into the local languages spoken in the countries or states where our suppliers are located.

APPLICATION

Thread’s Code of Conduct sets standards for the work-environment; labor hours, wages, and the terms and condition to hire labor, as well as the social and environmental impact from production. We expect that irrespective of the geographical location, our suppliers produce products and/or perform services for Thread in line with these standards. If any of these standards are not met, Thread pledges to work in collaboration with our suppliers to understand the root cause and to work out a sustainable corrective action plan. Thread will then assist in building the capacity of our suppliers to execute this plan and operate in line with these standards. These standards apply to regular employees, contract workers, immigrants, night workers, hourly paid workers, piece-rate workers, and independent contractors.

 

Take Back Policy

Thread is creating the most responsible fabric in the world. We are not creating this fabric to have it end up in a landfill.

When you purchase a product made with Thread material, you are doing more than buying a new pair of shoes. You are supporting jobs, changing lives, and repurposing material that was once seen as waste. Thread partners with brands and designers who make quality products that last. We hope that you have loved your stuff made with Thread fabric and that it has served you well during its lifetime. When you are finished with that good, send it back to us, so that we can ensure those raw materials remain useful.

THE LAST MILE: THREAD + THE RENEWAL WORKSHOP

The Last Mile of the supply chain (hey, that’s you!) is just as important as the First Mile. Thread is proud to be partnering with The Renewal Workshop to ensure that our fabric doesn’t reach the end of it’s life when you’re finished with it.

The Renewal Workshop is a new kind of apparel company that makes discarded clothing and textiles into something new. They partner with the world’s best-loved brands and retailers to recover value from their unsellable returns and excess inventory.

Their proprietary Renewal System takes discarded apparel and textiles and turns them into renewed apparel, upcycling materials, or feedstock for recycling. Data is collected on everything that flows through the system and is shared with their brand partners to help them improve the production and design of future products. Renewed apparel is sold direct-to-consumer on their website, in selected stores, or back to the brand. They’re the certified renewal partner of their brands and their accompanying labeling in the garment acts as a seal of trust and quality.

The Renewal Workshop operates a zero waste circular system that recovers the full value out of what has already been created as a way of serving customers, partners, and planet.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

We will accept any Thread-branded product when you are finished with it, simply ship it to Threadquarters:

First Mile
Attn: Take Back
7800 Susquehanna St.
Suite 502
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Through our partnership with The Renewal Workshop, we’ll ensure that your goods are refurbished or repaired, re-sold, or that the raw materials are recycled. If you’d like to include a note letting us know where you’ve taken that bag, or what you have accomplished while wearing that t shirt, we’d love to hear your stories. Thank you for your commitment to ensuring that materials stay useful and that Thread products continue to have positive impact.

 
 
 

CRADLE to CRADLE

Thread’s jersey knit fabric has completed the Material Health Safety Certification process through the Cradle to Cradle Institute. This process included breaking down each product used in the manufacturing down to the molecular level to ensure that our fabric isn’t causing human or ecological harm.

While our production processes passed certification standards, we learned about the issue of antimony and recycled polyester. Antimony is present in PET bottles (soda and water bottles) and can be released in the heating processes required for recycling the rPET into fiber.

We conducted additional third party testing and, while antimony levels were very close to being under the 100 ppm that is required by the institute for higher ratings, we cannot ignore the presence of antimony in rPET. This resulted in a bronze rating.
While the finished recycled fiber itself presents no harm, we cannot score above a bronze rating because of the release of antimony in production processes. If you look through the Cradle to Cradle Certifications, you’ll notice that no recycled polyester yarns or fabric have scored above a bronze material health rating because of this issue. You can find our certification page on the Cradle to Cradle website.