Thread seeks to create the most transparent and responsible textile supply-chains on the planet. Human rights of the workers represented in our supply chain are of utmost importance to our company, chief among those rights, avoiding child labor at every step of our supply chain.
Thread maintains a Code of Conduct with each of our suppliers, based on best practices from leaders within the textile and apparel industry, including brands such as Patagonia and Levis. Thread’s Code of Conduct is also based on standards set forth by the International Labour Organization and the UN convention on the Rights of the Child.
As outlined in Thread’s Code of Conduct:
“Thread does not accept child labor, and strictly disapproves of the hiring of any person under the age of 15.”
In the event that a supplier fails to cooperate and fails to comply with Thread’s Code of Conduct, Thread will not rule out the option of terminating the suppliers’ contract and legally barring them from any future business opportunities with Thread.
All of Thread’s suppliers are formally audited on an annual basis by Thread’s Impact Department to ensure compliance with all aspects of Thread’s Code of Conduct as well as to identify areas of social and environmental improvement.
Suppliers are also subject to unannounced visits by Thread’s impact department. Facilities are visited in person at minimum quarterly. Thread has found no employees under the age of 18 working in a processing facility or recycling plant it has certified in its supply chains.
Dangerous working condition and lack of formal recognition are notorious risks to individuals working in recycling collection in developing countries. In recent years, in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay have formed national associations of waste pickers with recognition and support from their respective governments. In other parts of the world, particularly Asia, Africa, and the Philippines recycling, especially at the collector level, is largely unregulated.
The collection level of Thread’s supply chain is the most difficult to audit and verify as any individual is welcome to bring recyclable material to recycling centers and receive payment in exchange for the recyclables. Thread implements surveys and interviews on a regular and ongoing basis with the individuals selling recyclables to the collection centers we partner with. Information on these individuals are stored in a database allowing us to record specific, concrete data at this level of our supply chain.
These surveys and interviews are used to verify the existence or avoidance of children under 15 working full time in plastic collection. Thread’s Impact Department makes random, unannounced visits to collection centers in person to observe the operations of the centers and interview plastic collectors. Thread’s Haiti Field manager visits our suppliers in person regularly, sending up to date data, photos, and videos of collection centers to Thread’s Impact Department.
The majority of recycling collectors we have met and interviewed are over the age of 18, or collect plastic as part time income in addition to attending school full time. However, in 2016, Thread’s Impact Department became aware of individuals under the age of 15 who collect plastic full time to generate income that is vital to their and their families’ well-being. Further complicating the issue is that no one is directly hiring these children since they operate independently. As such, there is no single supplier that Thread can hold responsible for violating the terms of our Code of Conduct.
Thread recognizes that child labor at this level of our supply chain is a complicated and nuanced problem that we are determined to address directly and impact positively. The necessity of children contributing to household income is deeply rooted in extreme poverty. In 2016, Thread made a public commitment through the Clinton Global Initiative in partnership with Timberland, HP, Team Tassy and ACOP. This CGI Commitment will directly address child labor, bringing educational opportunities as well as access to healthcare and jobs training for the families of these children. Thread recognizes that the whole family must be involved for there to be lasting change and is taking a holistic approach to addressing child labor in the neighborhood of Molea. Thread is also working with the recycling collection center owners in these communities to track these cases and ensure that all programs are lead by the communities where child labor is occurring. We are committed to plans of action that address the causes of extreme poverty rather than focusing on eliminating the symptoms.
Thread recognizes that we cannot physically be present in every household that may be participating in plastic collection in our supply chains, but will continue to be as diligent as is possible when it comes to the avoidance of child labor in our supply chains. In keeping with our commitment to transparency, any strategy, programs, and partnerships developed to address child labor will be documented and made open source so that other companies may learn from our experience.