Major brands aim for zero discharge of hazardous chemicals

Adidas Group, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike, Inc. and Puma have announced a joint roadmap to lead the apparel and footwear industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. The roadmap covers the full supply chain for all products, initially focusing on apparel, and is based on individual commitments by each of the six brands.

The initiative is a direct response to the Greenpeace Dirty Laundry reports, and their call for urgent and transparent action. The reports found hazardous chemicals released by textile facilities in China and disclosed that samples of clothing from 14 brands tested positive for toxic chemicals.

With the roadmap, the companies commit to take action to move away from hazardous chemicals. Those include the identification of all chemicals used in textile manufacturing, phase-out of hazardous chemicals and projects to encourage sector wide chemical disclosure. Any company wishing to join is invited to publish an individual commitment and sign up to the initiative.

Transparency is recognised by the six brands as a necessity in order to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. Several projects on disclosure will be undertaken during the next year, such as exploring platform options for suppliers to disclose their chemical inventory. Another important part of the roadmap is awareness raising regarding hazardous chemicals for all factories and material suppliers. In the initial stage, facilities shared by the six brands will be targeted. These are located in e.g. China, Philippines, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Thailand, India and Indonesia.

ChemSec welcomes the initiative and calls on chemical companies to actively support it by disclosing chemical ingredients and health and safety information throughout the supply chain.

– Greater transparency in the form of performance updates and reports allows the evaluation of progress and can serve as best practice for other chemical management initiatives by companies, says ChemSec business and investors advisor Sonja Haider. Also, the timeline 2020 is good. Not enough has been done since the global goal to achieve sound chemicals management by 2020 was set in Dubai five years ago. This is a positive step, continues Sonja Haider, but clearer intermediate timelines and milestones on certain areas would make this roadmap more tangible. We will be following this crucial initiative closely to verify that the agreed initial projects will lead towards actual elimination of hazardous chemicals as urgently needed.

Joint roadmap
News from July: Greenpeace urges textile industry to take responsibility for hazardous wastewater discharges by suppliers
News from September: Clothes producers respond to Greenpeace toxic-free future challenge