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ZDHC Group Releases Comprehensive Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) Key Milestone

Today the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme reached a significant milestone by issuing a Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL), a first for the apparel and footwear industries.

After more than 2 years of close collaboration between the ZDHC textile and footwear brands, experts from the ZDHC Technical Advisory Committee and apparel industry, the ZDHC Programme developed and is releasing a list of substances restricted from intentional use by the manufacturing supply chain. 

“With the release of the MRSL, our message to industry is clear,” said ZDHC Programme Manager Cheryl Kreindler.

“By delivering the change that we would like to see in all parts of the supply chain—brands, chemical suppliers, manufacturers and other intermediaries—we hope to motivate dyehouses, chemical suppliers, other brands and key stakeholders to adopt ambitious chemical management standards. Our goal is to encourage them to innovate and establish new ways of reducing and eliminating hazardous chemicals,” she added.

The ZDHC MRSL establishes concentration limits for substances in chemical formulations used within manufacturing facilities that process textile materials and trim parts for apparel and footwear. These limits are designed to eliminate the possibility of intentional use of listed substances.

The list will assist brands, supply chains and the broader industry in adopting a harmonised approach to phasing out/substituting hazardous substances potentially used and discharged into the environment during manufacturing and related processes.

The ZDHC Group expects that material suppliers and factories will communicate with their chemical suppliers to deter the use of the listed substances in chemical formulations above the established limits.

Development of the MRSL

Using a transparent framework to screen hazardous chemicals in the apparel and footwear industry for elimination, the ZDHC Group developed a list of priority chemicals for action. Those identified substances for which there are existing safer alternatives were placed directly on a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) for phase out.

Chemicals on the MRSL include ingredients potentially used in cleaners, solvents, adhesives, stabilizers, paints, inks, detergents, dyes, pigments, auxiliaries, coatings and finishing agents used for wet -processing, maintenance, wastewater treatment, sanitation and pest control. Substances identified as priority chemicals without safer alternatives were placed on a Research List for additional investigation.

Benefits of Collaboration

Complex standard setting like the phase out of certain chemicals is best undertaken as part of a collaboration, like the ZDHC Group, so that individual brands do not develop multiple conflicting standards withfor which shared suppliers will have difficulty  complying.

The ZDHC MRSL will allow the ZDHC Group to better assist suppliers in addressing wastewater discharge issues by directly targeting input chemical formulations used in production instead of relying on finished product and/or wastewater testing. 

To support raw material suppliers, including wet-processing facilities, subcontractors and factories assembling or manufacturing garments and footwear transitioning to this new chemical guidance, the ZDHC Group is accompanying the release of the MRSL and Research List with supplier guidance, support materials and training.

The ZDHC Group expects to update the MRSL to include limits for leather processing in the near future. Special considerations of the chemistry involved make it necessary for ZDHC to separately address leather processing at a later date.

Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL)