Corporate Social Responsibility
Debenhams Sustainability Report
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Environmental and Chemical Policy

Debenhams as an international retailer sources and sells goods globally. We have a responsibility to ensure that all products are produced to the highest standards, are safe for use, and exceed customers’ expectations, whilst protecting their health and the environment. Therefore it is essential that we source responsibly by engaging with our suppliers and manufacturers by providing training and support to ensure Debenhams meet all requirements and standards whilst adhering to all local or national laws.

Our RSL (Restricted Substances List) specifies the chemical limits permitted in our products in line with REACH (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and standards set by international markets. The aim of the Debenhams RSL is to reduce and/or eradicate harmful chemicals by substituting them with available alternatives. Operating within the chemical limits of our RSL ensures that we protect the environment in which we operate, and the health of people in our global supply chain and consumers. Our policy and RSL (Restricted Substance List) are regularly reviewed and updated in line with developing legislation.

Animal Testing and Animal Welfare

Debenhams does not support animal testing, therefore it is not permitted. We do not knowingly acquire products or ingredients from suppliers that have commissioned animal testing. We do not carry out or commission such tests on goods that we sell.

  • The EU banned cosmetics developed through animal testing from March 2013. The ban applies to all new cosmetics and their ingredients sold in the EU. The regulation “prohibits the performance of animal testing in the European Union for finished products or ingredients or combination of ingredients.”
  • Animal fur: Debenhams has a no fur policy. We do not allow the use of animal fur in our products or allow fur to be sold in any of our international territories. This includes, but is not limited to fox, chinchilla, mink, rabbit, and racoon. Fake fur must be used and be labelled as faux fur.
  • Endangered species: We do not permit the use of any animal skins such as snake, crocodile, alligator or any species specified in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species or those which appear on the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species list (CITES) This applies to all Debenhams own bought products.
  • Leather: All leather used must not be obtained from live animals. It must be sourced from animals that are treated humanely during their rearing, transportation, lairage handling and slaughter as a by-product of the food industry.

We do not permit the use of:

  • Karakul/Astrakha Lamb Fur: It is often taken from new born lambs or a product of unnatural abortions.
  • Mongolian Lambs Fur: Due to the manner in which the animal can be slaughtered we do not use this sheepskin variety.
  • Angora and Rabbit Hair: Due to the live plucking methods and poor conditions of farming. The use of Angora in any product was banned by Debenhams, inclusive of Magasin du Nord in December 2014.
  • Feathers: Live Plucking and the ‘force feeding of geese and ducks is prohibited and not allowed under any circumstances’.
    All feathers used in the production of Debenhams merchandise must be a by-product of the food industry. Suppliers must produce and maintain evidence to illustrate this and submit to a Debenhams Quality Assurance Technologist as part of the product approval process. This includes and is not limited to the country of origin, origin of source, species, handling, transparency of the full supply chain, which must be recorded and documented and made available to Debenhams upon request at all times.

Please Note: These are the minimum processes required for the treatment of all feathers.

  • Feathers must be sterilized and fumigated as per the EU Standard BS EN 12935.
  • Feathers must be dried at a minimum temperature of 70° degrees (as this is considered effective in reducing the risk of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus to a negligible level).
  • Cashmere and Mohair: used in our products must be sourced from suppliers and producers with good animal husbandry. Animal fibres must be responsibly harvested by natural shedding or combing.

Cosmetic Regulations

Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009

This legal requirement came into force on July the 11th 2013 throughout all the EU member states.

It places greater requirements on the Responsible Person’ that manufactures or imports a cosmetic product. To demonstrate safety, the Regulation places more rigorous demands to generate, record, document and update information in a more stringent manner.

This includes the registration of product, with notification of sale and compositional information supplied to the EU Commission who issue the information to the Poison Centres and Member States. The regulation provides for the assessment of product safety and the prohibition of animal testing.

Timber Sourcing

Debenhams has a complex supply chain. We continually assess our suppliers as part of our on-going ethical compliance programme. Part of our policies and procedures for good forest management include the requirement that our suppliers source timber legally.

In 2010 the EU parliament voted to outlaw illegal timber or products made from such wood from entering the EU.

The EU Legal Timber Regulation (995/2010) places responsibility on importers to have undertaken sufficient guarantees that timber and timber based products they bring into the EU are legally harvested and fully traceable back to the source of the forest. Only when an acceptable risk level has been identified, may merchandise be placed on the EU market, post 3rd March 2013.

We have partnered with Bureau Veritas (BV) to carry out risk assessments and traceability of the timber sourced for our own brand products within scope of the regulation.

BV is accredited as a monitoring organization by the EU commission. (

Documentation demonstrating compliance to applicable legislation in the Country of harvest i.e. Right to harvest/ Payment for harvest rights and duties, Timber harvesting, Tenure & Use rights, Trade & Customs documents.

Working with our suppliers we continually monitor and improve as necessary our due diligence process for assessment and management to mitigate our timber risks. This is particularly crucial for our suppliers in jurisdictions that lack robust environmental protection. We recognize and support the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

REACH Policy


The EU REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 came into force on the 2nd of June 2007. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals, and is the most significant piece of chemical legislation to enter into force since the introduction of the Dangerous Substances Directive in 1967. REACH has a significant impact on manufactures, importers and users of chemicals, as well as retailers and their suppliers.


The fundamental requirement of REACH is that EU business that manufactures or import Annex XVII chemical substances into the EU in excess of 1 tonne per annum, must register said substances with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), who are based in Helsinki.

Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs)

Under Article 33(1) of the EU REACH Regulation producers, importers and other suppliers have to inform recipients about Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) contained in articles above 0.1% weight by weight (w/w), by law, within 45 days.

Waste Electrical (WEEE), Batteries and Waste Packaging


The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) was introduced into UK law in January 2007 with the aim of reducing the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) going to landfill. As a producer and a distributor of electrical goods Debenhams are:

  • A member of an approved compliance scheme
  • Responsible for completing submissions detailing the amount of EEE we place onto the market
  • We ensure all products are marked with the crossed out wheeled bin symbol
  • A member of the DTS (Distributor Take-back Scheme). Members of the DTS are exempt from offering in-store take-back of WEEE but are obligated to contribute towards the provision of WEEE collection facilities by Local Authorities and recycling centers.
  • The WEEE DTS announced that £700,000 (with potential for further funding at the end of 2015) would be available to fund proposals for innovative and practical projects with the aim to:
    • Drive up reuse of whole appliances
    • Increase the tonnage of separately collected domestic WEEE for recycling
    • Or to increase the recycling rate of collected equipment
  • This fund has been made available for Local Authorities and recycling centers from the fees paid by electrical retailers into the DTS.

In 2016 Debenhams achieved a 100% compliance rate in store audits conducted by National Measurement Regulation Office (NMRO) the enforcement body responsible for compliance to the WEEE and Batteries Regulations.

Each store visited by the NMRO demonstrated compliance to Retailer and Distributor obligations which can be found:


The EU Batteries Directive was introduced with the aim of reducing the amount of used batteries ending up in landfill. As a producer and distributor of batteries, Debenhams are:

  • A member of an approved compliance scheme
  • Responsible for completing data submissions detailing the amount of batteries we place onto the market
  • Responsible for paying a share towards the costs of battery recycling
  • Obligated to offer in store collection facilities for waste portable batteries in all of our UK and ROI (Republic of Ireland) Stores
Waste Packaging

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste Regulations) were introduced in 1997 with the aim of reducing the amount of packaging ending up in landfill. As a Producer of packaging Debenhams are obligated to:

  • Register with an approved compliance scheme
  • Submit bi-annual sales data to our compliance scheme provider
  • Complete compliance audits by our nominated compliance scheme provider

Sustainable fashion has never been so in demand and more and more people are choosing a vegan lifestyle than ever before. In line with this growing focus on ethics, the demand for compassionate and sustainable homeware is also on the increase…

To celebrate the work of designers and retailers who are considering animal’s cruelty, the environment and sustainability, PETA have created the first ever PETA Vegan Homewares Awards.


Debenhams has been awarded: Best Down Free Bedding Feels like down™ Micro-Fibre Duvet