Corporate Social Responsibility
Debenhams Sustainability Report
< Back to overview

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


To ensure all animal derived materials are sourced from farms practicing good animal husbandry to protect the fair and ethical treatment of animals.


Animal Testing – Prohibited:

Debenhams does not support the use of animal testing across any product range. We do not knowingly acquire products or ingredients from suppliers that have commissioned animal testing. Animal testing in the EU has been banned since March 2013, the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 prohibits the performance of animal testing in the European Union for finished products or ingredients.

Animal Fur – Prohibited:

  • Including but not limited to fox, chinchilla, mink, rabbit and racoon
  • Karakul/Astrakha Lamb fur – due to inhumane treatment of new born lambs
  • Mongolian Lamb fur – due to inhumane slaughter of the animal
  • Angora and Rabbit hair – due to inhumane practice of live plucking and poor farming conditions.

Endangered Species – Prohibited:

  • Animal skins including and not limited to snake, crocodile and alligator
  • Any species listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  • Any species listed in the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species list (CITES)


Live plucking and force feeding of geese and ducks is prohibited. Feathers used for Debenhams products must be a by-product of the food industry and evidence of this should be submitted to product technologists during the product approval process.

Evidence includes and is not limited to: Origin of source, species, handling and transparency of full supply chain, which must be recorded and available upon request.

Examples of acceptable documentation include valid 3rd-party certification to the following:

Feathers and down used for Debenhams products must be:

  • Traceable
  • By-products of the food industry
  • Derived from full-grown, adult birds only
  • Sterilised and fumigated in accordance to BS EN 12935:2001
  • Dried at 70°C, to reduce the risk of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus transmittance to a nominal level

Supplementary requirements for feather and down-filled products:

  • The composition labelling shall state the percentages of the mass of the components in groups rounded to 10%, save for blends of 85% feather and 15% down, as specified in BS EN 12934:2000
  • Factories must ensure suitable and sufficient controls are in place to control and monitor the consistency of fill, in terms of required weight and composition / fill, throughout production
  • Performance or attribute claims (e.g. tog rating to BS 5335-2:2006) must be supported by test reports
  • All products must meet all physical, antimicrobial and chemical requirements specified in the Debenhams testing manuals

Cashmere and Mohair

Must be sourced from suppliers and producers with good animal husbandry. Animal fibres must be responsibly harvested by natural shedding and combing practices.


All leather used must be a by-product of the food industry. Debenhams supports farms practicing the ‘Five Freedoms’:

  • Freedom from hunger or thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour (by providing sufficient space and animal company)
  • Freedom from fear and distress


Must be sourced from farmers with good animal husbandry and do not practise the activity of mulesing.

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