Market leaders in the safety footwear market, Blundstone, are paving the way for a sustainable future—and making sure every step is better than their last. Since 1870, Blundstone has been researching, developing, and innovating at a product level while always honouring their—commitment and responsibility to the community.
Blundstone holds itself to the highest standard. As a responsible business, they recognise that the journey of sustainability is ongoing. The ‘Every Step Better’ (ESB) program, established in 2021 acknowledges the brand’s commitment to its people, product, planet and future. The program along with the associated code of conduct has been designed to hold Blundstone accountable for its decisions and actions, in support of a more sustainable future.
People—a company is only as good as it treats its people. For over 150 years Blundstone has prided itself on positive employment practices.
Ethical and transparent conduct
People are the heart of Blundstone. Without employees, partner manufacturers and suppliers committed to quality craftsmanship and sustainability, there would be no brand and no product—and certainly not one that’s flourished for over 150 years. In the last 10 years, Blundstone has grown from a local operation in Hobart, Tasmania to a brand that spans the globe. Blundstones are sold in over 70 countries across the world and to support this, the supply management and manufacturing now take place with five key partners located in Vietnam, Mexico, India, China and Thailand alongside their gumboot production facility in Hobart, Tasmania. Each key partner has committed to Blundstone’s ethical Code of Conduct, ensuring the brand leads by example in the sustainability space, offers better working conditions and delivers above minimum standards.
Blundstone promotes an inclusive workplace and encourages partners and suppliers to adopt an aligned approach. No worker should be discriminated against based on race, national origin, ethnicity, political opinion, social group, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, health, disability or other classes protected by law. Employees must be employed based upon their skills, knowledge, and experience.
Responsibility for the community extends beyond Blundstone’s ESB code of conduct that primarily focuses on sustainability. At a market level, Blundstone Australia has committed to two major partnerships since 2020—partnering with the Pinnacle Foundation and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). The support Blundstone has committed the two foundations across three years highlights the importance and value placed on people, community and inclusivity.
Blundstone Australia signed as a silver partner of the Pinnacle Foundation in 2021. The financial contribution goes towards supporting Australian LGBTQIA+ students by providing scholarships and mentors to encourage, counsel and inspire them during their young adulthood. Pinnacle work across the country awarding multi-year scholarships to students who identify as LGBTQIA+ aged between 18 and 26 years old. The scholarships support full-time study at public higher education institutions in Australia in order to achieve educational or vocational qualifications in any profession, trade or the arts. Each Pinnacle scholar is carefully matched with a mentor who will typically share the same academic and professional interests, gender identity and sexual orientation.
The greater vision of the foundation is for a more diverse and inclusive society, of which, Blundstone are proud to be supporting and strongly encourage across their workplace, supply partners and broader community.
Blundstone entered a three partnership with the ILF in 2022—marking their commitment on a significant day of importance, Indigenous Literacy Day. The ILF is a national charity working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities across Australia. They are a community-led organisation who respond to requests for culturally relevant books, including early learning board books, resources, and programs to support communities to create and publish their stories in languages of their choice.
The funding provided by Blundstone helps the foundation operate three key programs focusing on ensuring access to quality resources, including books in First Languages, publishing community stories and supporting people through this process across 400 rural and remote communities. This three-year commitment to The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is underpinned by Blundstone’s commitment to “giving forward” to offer future generations every possible opportunity to succeed.
Product—Blundstone prides itself on the quality of materials and the skills required to craft their boots. Blundstone boots are tough, durable and designed to last.
Sustainably sourced materials
Blundstone work hand-in-hand with the Leather Working Group (LWG), the peak body for
accreditation and sustainable practices within the leather industry, to source 95% of their leathers. The LWG specialises in environmental assessment tools, audit protocol, rating systems and third-party services. It also encourages upstream suppliers to improve their own environmental practices.
Blundstone are currently trialling more environmentally friendly tanning processes to reduce the water consumption of the production process, with an end goal of using a waterless method.
As a leather-based business, animal welfare is constantly front of mind. Blundstone, along with their leather partners believe animals should never be subject to cruel or harsh treatment, and always respectfully and humanely. All footwear and ancillaries including animal products are sourced with careful consideration.
Recycled and recyclable
A range of recycling practices have been onboarded by the brand to improve their sustainability initiatives. These include returning offcuts from gumboot products back into the manufacturing process—saving 10 tonnes of PVC ending up in landfill each year. The recycled PVC has previously been recycled to create inners for gardening hoses. Blundstone also design products with recycled and recyclable elements where possible. In the most recent Work & Safety release, the RotoFlex range included 100% recycled laces and lining.
At a national level, Blundstone Australia joined the six-month TreadLightly Pilot Program in 2022 alongside many of their trusted retailer partners in Victoria. The aim of this program is to reduce the amount of work boots going to landfill—through the use of TreadLightly recycling bins implemented in 60 Work & Safety retail stores across the state.
Designed to last
Every element from sole technology, through to stitching, laces, leather, and linings are carefully considered to ensure the boots will stand the test of time. Blundstone also utilise an extensive wear testing program designed to ensure their products are robust and fit for purpose.
Planet—with their eyes on the future, Blundstone strives to minimise their environmental impact through proactive management and partner encouragement.
Blundstone actively work with tanneries and other global partners to ensure the most modern manufacturing techniques are applied to reduce waste. Through a detailed process, Blundstone achieve maximum yield on each piece of leather to reduce waste. Along with waste management, Blundstone have set objectives around energy consumption, water usage and handling, and emissions to be proactive in managing and reducing the impact today and for future generations.
Throughout the ESB journey, Blundstone has continued to consider and improve its footprint as a global business. This extends from ethical employment to waste minimisation, and everything in between.
Most recently, Blundstone was recognised at the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) annual awards, taking out top position for the General Merchandise and Apparel industry sector. This award demonstrates merit for several moves towards sustainable packaging options Blundstone has actioned including; changing single-pair shoelace packaging to 100% recycled and recyclable cardboard, transitioning to a shrink-wrap plastic with higher recycled content, removing the need for 128kg of virgin plastic material from our Australian market supply chain, and a current trial of new footbed packaging which will further improve the brand’s footprint on the environment.
Blundstone has been a signatory for the APCO Sustainable packaging initiative since 2007. To be a signatory of the initiative is a tremendous accolade in itself—and, the journey of Blundstone over the 15 years since demonstrates the brand’s commitment to improving it’s practices.
The ESB objectives are not achieved by one single business unit—it truly does take a whole-of-business approach, or a village, as the phrase suggests. The goals associated with the program are long-term commitments to sustainability. Blundstone recognises that although sustainable action is taking place, the company is still product focused, encouraging consumption. “As a global company, we have a responsibility to act—to develop new approaches of production with minimum impact, to encourage people to be mindful when consuming and to create a product with longevity,” states Adam Blake, joint CEO.