Design staff set to carry Saga sustainability message forward to fashion world

On 14 May, Saga Furs staged a one-day sustainability training session for the 10 creative staff at the Saga Design Centre in Copenhagen.

Charles Ross, Saga Furs Head of Sustainability, and Marika Peuhkuri-Gron, CSR Manager, both reported a high level of interest in sustainability topic areas across the board.

“It was a long day but positive one,” Ross confirms. “In the morning we hit them hard with some tough issues, but came through with solutions in the afternoon.”

Topics on the table of particular interest included the importance of transparency in the fur supply chain through to the Saga Traceability System as well as an intense interest in animal welfare and the lifecycle of fur animals on farms.

According to Peuhkuri-Gron, the team had submitted a long list of pre-questions in advance for discussion. For example, as furriers, they handle skins every day, so there was a lot of interest in fur chemical treatments. This was for their own health and safety as well as industry compliance.

The existing standard for chemical use in dressing is called REACH. Most REACH-compliant dressing companies are still in Europe and North America. However, China-based dressing companies that export to Europe and the US are also starting to comply with the REACH guidelines.

In the area of animal welfare, participants also wanted a better understanding of how the new industry protocol, known as WelFur, would fit with the company’s existing farm certification. The new scientific animal assessment protocol, scheduled to come on stream in 2020, will be a welcome addition but not a substitute for Saga Certification.

“To borrow from the Intel slogan, we’re talking about Saga Certification with WelFur inside,” Ross explains. “Our existing farm management system already has 80 criteria and WelFur will be contained in just one of those. This is in contrast to competitors many who will be adopting WelFur as their sole certification.”

In the final reflections, participants professed to feeling proud of their company’s established thought leadership in sustainability. They also felt more qualified to actively share with the many visitors to the Centre receives each year.

Peuhkuri-Gron says: “In addition to thoroughly briefing the team on all our CSR issues, we also wanted to instill in them the confidence to carry our strong sustainability message forward.”

“These people in Copenhagen are effectively our ambassadors to the fashion world,” adds Ross, “so it’s not before time that they were brought fully up to speed with our sustainability programme.”