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Schoenfabriek Van Bommel is a family business. The current 9th generation has the responsibility of managing the business in such a way, that it can be handed over to the 10th generation in better condition than that in which it was received from the 8th generation. The members of the family have decided to take a full generation to achieve this situation. The 10th generation will then bear the same responsibility in respect of the 11th.
Schoenfabriek Van Bommel enjoys a similar relationship with its environment. Every commercial decision has consequences for the environment and the world around it, a world of which we are caretakers for future generations. Schoenfabriek Van Bommel views sustainability and corporate social responsibility as self-evident, not in order to achieve short-term success but on behalf of the generations to whom we will leave behind our roads, our houses, our forests and our businesses.
In 1997, long before ‘An inconvenient truth' and growing media attention for sustainability and the environment, Schoenfabriek Van Bommel was the first shoe manufacturer in Europe to supply a shoe that bore an environmental label. In an intensive programme, the production chain for the shoe in question was closely examined from cow to finished product. In order to meet the requirements of the environmental label, every element of the process was duly adapted, altered or registered.
The requirements imposed by the environmental label include a reduced burden on the environment in terms of raw materials, energy, water consumption, harmful substances, packaging and waste. Other issues that were closely examined include working conditions, animal welfare, crop protection and nature management.
Despite the huge publicity that accompanied the launch of the shoe, there was only limited interest in the product from the market. Production was halted after little more than a year. The sustainable shoe disappeared, but the legacy of sustainable thinking was left behind. The focus was shifted from a single sustainable product to overall sustainable business management.
Since these experiences with the environmental label shoe, ‘sustainability’ at Van Bommel has no longer been used as a selling point. Instead, sustainability and corporate social responsibility have been implemented in every element of business practice.