Debenhams Sustainability Report
< Back to overview

Environmental and Chemical Policy

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, exceeding our customers’ expectations protecting their health and the environment. It is therefore essential we source responsibly collaboratively engaging with our suppliers and manufacturers to ensure all of our requirements, standards and local or national laws are adhered to at all times. Our Restricted Substances List (RSL) specifies the chemical limits permitted in our products in line with REACH (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and standards set by international markets. The aim to further reduce and or eradicate harmful chemicals where industry alternatives are available, but to ensure we operate within the limits set to help protect the people in our supply chain, our consumers and the global environment in which we operate. Our policy and RSL are continuously reviewed and updated in line with all relevant 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 raccoon. Fake fur must be used and product 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) –
  • Angora: We do not use angora in our products due to the live plucking methods and poor conditions of farming rabbits. Therefore it is not permitted for use including any other rabbit hair.
  • 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.
  • Karakul/Astrakha: We do not use Karakul lamb fur. It is often taken from newborn lambs or a product of unnatural abortions. Therefore not permitted.
  • Mongolian Lamb Fur: Due to the manner in which the animal can be slaughtered we do not use this sheepskin variety.
  • 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 the 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.

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, placing 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

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 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.

Debenhams global supply chain can be complex. We continually assess our suppliers as part of the product approval process by the Technical team in line with our policy. Our policy and procedures for good forest management stipulate timber must be legally sourced. Documentation demonstrating compliance to applicable legislation in the Country of harvest i.e. Right to harvest, Timber harvesting, Trade & Customs documents form part of the product assessment and approval process by the Technical team.

We have partnered with Bureau Veritas (BV) to conduct 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. (

We recognize and support the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and PEFC (The programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). We strive towards all sources of timber to be FSC and or PEFC compliant by 2018.

Debenhams are a signatory to the The campaign seeks to cut out the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber, by working together with business to influence government at UK and EU level in order to level the playing field for businesses that are supportive of responsible forest trade.

Reach Policy

On the 1st of June 2007 a new EU Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 came into force concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). This is the most significant piece of legislation on control and management of chemicals since the introduction of the Dangerous Substances Directive in 1967 and has a significant impact on all manufacturers, importers and users of chemicals, as well as retailers and their suppliers.

The fundamental requirement of REACH is that EU businesses that manufacture or import chemical substances into the EU in tonnages in excess of 1 tonne per annum (tpa) must register those substances with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), based in Helsinki.

Debenhams’ nominated 3rd party company Intertek manages our stringent REACH programme with our Head Office Corporate Responsibility team, which is continually monitored including due diligence testing.

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 with Valpak
  • Responsible for completing submissions detailing the amount of EEE we place onto the market
  • 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 centres.

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 with Valpak
  • 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:

  • A member of an approved compliance scheme with Valpak
  • Submit bi-annual sales data to our compliance scheme provider
  • Conduct weighing days to obtain up to date weights of our products
  • Complete compliance audits by our nominated compliance scheme provider