ZDHC Impact Report
November 2019

How We Started

Understand how ZDHC has helped to create a paradigm shift in the apparel and footwear industry and laid the groundwork for sustainable chemicals management.

How we Started -
How we started
How we started

Welcome to ZDHC’s
first impact report.

"It feels like only a short time ago since Greenpeace launched its Detox campaign in 2011, challenging leading brands in the fashion industry to publicly commit to reducing the discharge of hazardous chemicals to zero by 2020. The ZDHC Group has been answering that call".

Charles Dickinson,
ZDHC Board Chair
How we Started -
How we started

Introduction by Charles Dickinson, ZDHC Board Chair

With 2020 just around the corner, it is time to take stock of what the ZDHC community has achieved, and what still needs to be done to further reduce the chemical footprint of global textile production.

I’m pleased to report that, in the short time since ZDHC’s inception, we have shifted the paradigm in the apparel and footwear industry. We have moved from a reactive system that focuses on products and RSL testing, to a system that manages input chemistry through ZDHC’s Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL), thereby eliminating hazardous chemicals before they even get into the supply chain.

We have transformed the industry by creating a systems-approach for input management of chemicals. Our focus is holistically from production processes to products along with the output control (e.g. wastewater). We have enhanced the scope from consumer protection to protecting people’s well-being and environmental conditions in production regions across the globe.

Together with our community, we have laid the groundwork and set the strategy for brands, suppliers and other stakeholders in the supply chain to phase out the intentional use of hazardous chemicals. The results of the wastewater testing carried out by ZDHC Community shows that our approach is working: There is a significant reduction of discharge of hazardous chemicals over time into the environment by our community.

Greenpeace has endorsed ZDHC for contributing to a “significant improvement” by creating a meaningful programme which enables the effective collaboration between brands, suppliers and the chemicals industry. Greenpeace recognizes ZDHC’s potential to scale up the process they started and have commended us for continuously expanding and improving our toolkit. The NGO has decided to pause its Detox campaign in response to the significant improvements of the industry. However, ZDHC will keep up the momentum and accelerate the implementation of its sustainable chemical management framework.  

We know that our work is far from done. As we reflect on what we’ve achieved over the past eight years, we’re also looking at the road ahead, as we continue our journey into 2020 and beyond. ZDHC began as a collaboration of just six fashion brands; today, our multi-stakeholder community of brands, manufacturers, chemical suppliers and solutions providers comprises more than 150 contributors. That’s significant growth, but it’s not enough. We want to increase the number of stakeholders who will commit to implementing the tools we’ve developed. We have identified our focus areas for the next 10 years to reduce the industries chemical footprint and drive sustainable chemistry into the apparel and footwear supply chain. To increase the impact we also need to spread the message to neighbouring supply chains of the textile and leather manufacturing industry. And, we will continue to build on our efforts to educate stakeholders in sustainable chemicals management and create greater consumer awareness about the work we’re doing to make the production of fashion and footwear safer for everyone.

How we Started -
About ZDHC

Where we’ve come from.

In 2011, Greenpeace issued a wake-up call to the fashion industry, its stakeholders and consumers with the launch of its Detox campaign.

The campaign drew attention to the impact of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing of clothing and footwear in production countries. Six brands individually signed public commitments with Greenpeace to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. This was the beginning of ZDHC’s Roadmap 2020 Programme.

In 2015, the ZDHC Foundation was established in Amsterdam with an updated vision of brands working collaboratively to implement sustainable chemistry, drive innovation and commit to best practices in the fashion industry to protect consumers, workers and the environment.

Who we are.

The ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme is a collaborative initiative of fashion brands, chemical suppliers, manufacturers and laboratories working to reduce the chemical footprint of apparel and footwear.

Together, we drive the global implementation of ZDHC’s sustainable chemical management framework and empower the global value chain to substitute or phase out hazardous chemicals in the production process and drive chemical and process innovation.

What we do.

We are advancing the apparel and footwear industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by: 

a) Creating aligned, industry-endorsed guidelines and tools for sustainable chemical management
b) Driving effective implementation of these standards on the ground
c) Engaging a network of relevant stakeholders to empower every point of the supply chain to manufacture safer products

Who we work with.

The ZDHC Programme is a collaboration of 30 signatory brands, 101 value chain affiliates and 19 associates – all organisations that are active in the textile, apparel, leather and footwear industry. Our contributors are collaborating to develop and jointly implement ZDHC’s sustainable chemical management framework.

Where we’re going.

Over the past eight years, we have put the sustainable chemical management framework in place to help the apparel and footwear industry eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chain.

But our job isn’t done yet. Today, we are focused on accelerating the use of our solutions worldwide. We are committed to leveraging the power of the ZDHC community to continue the transformation of the industry. And, we are prepared to share our learnings with sectors beyond the apparel and footwear industry.

How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Lydia Lin, ZDHC East Asia Regional Director

"Stakeholder engagement is key to creating a green supply chain."

Article by Lydia Lin, ZDHC East Asia Regional Director

ZDHC East Asia Regional Director Lydia Lin says efforts to engage industry and government stakeholders are having a positive impact when it comes to detoxing China’s huge textile manufacturing sector.

Read the full article

Lydia Lin – ZDHC Regional Director on progress in sustainability of textile supply chain in China

In 2011, the publication of the Greenpeace “Dirty LaundryReport” highlighted the hazardous practices common throughout China’s massive textile manufacturing industry. The report revealed wastewater in textile industry zones in Guangdong and Zhejiang contained chemicals that cause cancer or are harmful to reproduction. Supply chain investigations linked the products from those factories with several global brands.

A short time later, these three brands were among ZDHC’s six initial signatory brands, committing to substituting hazardous chemicals for safer ones during the production process. And according to Lydia Lin, ZDHC regional director for East Asia, they’ve come a long way.

“In 2011, one of the mills asked me, what is Greenpeace, and why are they testing our wastewater? There were no labs to help them do wastewater testing, and they didn’t understand why Greenpeace was targeting them.”

Fast forward to the present day, and awareness of the need to switch to safer alternatives is no longer the issue. Rather, it’s how best to achieve targets, and who should be taking the lead.

“The manufacturers in the supply chain always want to see the fashion firms take action first, while the fashion firms want their suppliers to provide alternatives,” said Lin.

So where does she focus her efforts?

“Stakeholder engagement is the key,” she said. “We are reaching out to government representatives, industry associations, and in particular the key chemical manufacturers to call for action. This is needed because while the brands have an impact on their contract of Tier 1 suppliers, they don’t have that much impact at the moment on Tier 2, 3, or 4 suppliers, and almost no influence on the chemical suppliers."

Need for multiple stakeholder engagement

Lin says her stakeholder engagement efforts in China have also shown her that change happens faster when industry and government take a collaborative approach.

There have been encouraging signs of progress from the Chinese government, which in 2019 released draft regulations on the environmental risk assessment and control regulation for chemical substances. Once approved, it will be China’s overarching chemical framework, similar to the Toxic Substances Control Act in the United States or the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation (REACH) in the European Union.

“Without help from other stakeholders to eliminate harmful chemicals, there are limits to what we can do in the supply chain,” said Lin. “Detoxification of supply chains would happen quickly if both policy and the market moved in the same direction.”

How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Annie Francis, ZDHC Operations Director

"ZDHC offers tangible benefits to help our contributors effect real change."

Interview with Annie Francis, ZDHC Operations Director

ZDHC began with just six signatory fashion brands committing to detoxing their supply chains of hazardous chemicals. Less than a decade later, the ZDHC community has grown to include 30 signatory brands, over 100 value chain affiliates, and 19 associates. We asked Operations Director, Annie Francis, about what attracts companies to ZDHC, and how membership is helping to drive industry change.

Read the full Interview

What are the benefits of being a ZDHC contributor?

One of the biggest benefits for a brand is being able to position itself as taking a leadership position in the fields of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. But there are also tangible benefits, such as having the ability to influence the creation of the guidelines and solutions for better chemicals management. Once those guidelines and solutions are created, the brands have the ability to implement them, deep into their supply chain to create real change – without having to create their own programs and systems. This allows them to minimise or completely avoid the duplication of efforts, which can be confusing and inefficient for manufacturers.

How would you describe the growth the ZDHC community has undergone?

The pace and the rate of change and growth has been and continues to be extraordinary, and the more signatory brands that come into ZDHC and have the ability to influence the creation of the tools in a way that means they can be applied is ultimately what creates success and determines to what extent ZDHC can create industry change.

Which of the ZDHC’s tools do community contributors particularly appreciate?

Our starting point was creating the MRSL. That’s a list that tells you what chemicals you can’t use. That alone doesn’t solve the problem of course, so we needed to create the tools to help the industry find safe alternatives. That’s where the Gateway comes in as the product catalogue for safer chemistry based on MRSL conformance. It’s one thing to restrict the use of certain chemicals, but it’s quite another to direct people to better chemistry and help them avoid making regrettable substitutions. That’s when a chemical formulation we know to be hazardous is replaced with one which later turns out to also be harmful either alone or in combination with others. So the Gateway and the chemical checks that are included in it is really intended to empower manufacturers to find better and reliable alternatives.

“Esprit was among the first members of the ZDHC after its foundation. We believe that changing our industry is only possible in a joint approach, with common tools and procedures which we often share with our suppliers and everyone else to follow, to comply and to improve. This is how we want to ensure to move the industry into the right direction, in a systematic way.”

Kristina Seidler-Lynders
Manager Social & Environmental Sustainability.

What we achieved

Understand how ZDHC has helped to create a paradigm shift in the apparel and footwear industry and laid the groundwork for sustainable chemicals management.

1. Key message

Mind-shift

A mind-shift in the apparel and footwear industry.

Expanded that focus to include the beginning of pipe
Our Impact -
What we achieved

Together with our community, we at ZDHC have brought about a substantial mind shift in how the textile, apparel and footwear industries view chemicals management.

The focus used to be at the end of pipe, with consumer protection being the main concern. But over the past eight years, we have expanded that focus to include the beginning of pipe, and the protection not only of people all along the supply chain, but also of the environment in production regions. A key part of this mind shift has been the development of ZDHC’s manufacturing restricted substance list, or MRSL, that addresses which chemicals may be present during the manufacturing of products.

Our Impact -
How we’ve achieved it

How we’ve achieved it

From RSL to MRSL

The mind shift in chemicals management has been achieved by developing and implementing a manufacturing restricted substance list, or MRSL. This is a list of chemical substances banned from intentional use in the facilities that process textiles, leather and footwear.

Before the ZDHC was formed in 2011, brands typically managed product safety through a restricted substance list, known as an RSL, which only addressed chemicals that may be present on finished products. Focusing on RSL compliance only meant that hazardous chemicals could be used in the manufacturing process, as long as they weren’t present above a certain concentration on the finished goods.

By introducing ZDHC’s MRSL, we have expanded the industry’s focus to manufacturing, in an effort to avoid hazardous chemicals even entering the supply chain. The textile manufacturers must commit to using chemicals that conform to our MRSL and chemicals manufacturers must also meet our requirements by testing and certifying that their formulations do not intentionally contain any of the chemicals listed in our MRSL.  

Our Impact -
Interview with Dr Kirsten Brodde
How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Dr. Kristen Brodde, Greenpeace

"The implementation of roadmap to zero is verifiable."

Interview with Dr. Kirsten Brodde, Head of Detox Campaign - Greenpeace Germany

Read Part 1 of the Interview

In 2011, Greenpeace started its campaign „Detox My Fashion”. Why did you choose to focus your campaign on the textile industry?

The textile industry was - and still is - one of the biggest sources of industrial wastewater in Global South countries such as China, using and releasing a wide range of hazardous chemicals. On the other hand, because the products of global clothing brands and retailers are used and known by many people these companies are very aware of consumer demands and of the importance of reputation, the textile industry has strong incentives to clean up its global supply chain.

While the European Union put in place comprehensive legislation to target the multitude of hazardous chemicals being produced and used in Europe, with the adoption of the REACH regulation in 2006, this didn’t address the problem in the textiles supply chain, most of which is in Global South countries.

As the major manufacturing hub of the global textile industry, China was a natural starting point for the Detox campaign, followed by Mexico and Indonesia. The campaign investigations revealed that hazardous chemicals in wastewater was a problem that was largely being ignored and supported our main campaign demand: zero discharges of hazardous chemicals, globally. Instead of attempting to clean up effluent by catching hazardous chemicals in wastewater treatment plants, we focused on eliminating their discharge - by stopping their use in the first place. However, we believed that the fashion and clothing industry would be a good candidate to take on this challenge, knowing that it’s in the DNA of fashion to make rapid changes - and now the Detox companies are well on their way to “Destination Zero”.

Self-regulating industry initiatives are often suspected of greenwashing and lacking a genuine desire for change. Back then, how did you assess the founding of ZDHC?

At the early stage of the campaign, Greenpeace viewed the creation of the ZDHC group as a coordinated response by the industry to attempt to limit the ambition of the campaign and to present a united front to the media for damage limitation. While Greenpeace recognised that collaboration of the brands was essential because suppliers are commonly shared, the ZDHC’s early initiative was a limited response to the Detox challenge and did not implement the requirements set out by Greenpeace fully.

For example, the scope of hazardous chemicals in the MRSL was insufficient, and reporting limits were not ambitious enough. As the number of Detox committed brands and companies grew, there was greater diversity, with some developing more ambitious programmes to implement the Detox challenge, such as H&M, Inditex, Fast Retailing, Puma and the Italian Detox Consortium to name but a few. This wider landscape has also influenced ZDHC, which has become a more meaningful and diverse programme over the years, with the potential to scale up the Detox roadmap to the rest of the clothing and textiles industry and to keep up the momentum for change.

In 2018, Greenpeace Germany published an assessment of changes in the use of chemicals in the textile supply chain. In a nutshell, what were Greenpeace‘s findings?

The assessment in our publication “Destination Zero” was a full assessment of the progress made by the companies at that time. This was the first time that all Detox committed companies, from the various sectors - fashion, sportswear, luxury, retailers, outdoor and suppliers, were evaluated together.

Overall, we found that a new dynamic has been created in the way that brands relate to their suppliers by introducing rigorous chemicals management in manufacturing, a roadmap for elimination of hazardous chemicals and requiring transparency by publishing suppliers and their wastewater discharge data.

Specifically, all the committed brands and companies were delivering on the rigorous management of hazardous chemicals in a complex and global supply chain - although not all at the same pace as they face different challenges due to their size and specific market. Notable achievements are the publication by suppliers of their wastewater discharge data, for almost all Detox committed companies, and the progressive reduction over time of hazardous chemicals in wastewater and products shown by the year on year reporting of progress by companies. The implementation of the roadmap towards zero discharges is therefore verifiable.

To what extent has ZDHC contributed to this change?

Compared to the situation we found in 2011, there is substantial improvement. Collectively, the Detox companies have reached a critical point where there’s no going back, demonstrating the significance and feasibility of the paradigm shift advocated by the campaign. The new partnerships that were created, ZDHC included, are the cornerstone of all the progress that has been made towards zero discharges by 2020 and prove that it’s possible to motivate companies towards fundamentally changing the way they do business.

Work together and keep pushing the level of ambition

Read more about Greenpeace’s recommendations for the industry moving forward.

Read part 2 of the interview
How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Prasad Pant, ZDHC South Asia
Regional Director

Taking the ZDHC mind shift to South Asia’s textile industry

Article by Prasad Pant, ZDHC Regional Director for South Asia

ZDHC Regional Director for South Asia, Prasad Pant, says young, globally-minded business leaders are embracing change.

Read the full article

Prasad Pant’s experience of the textile industry spans no less than 3 decades. With a degree in Textile Chemistry he has worked for chemical companies, consulted textile processing, dye and auxiliaries manufacturers on better chemicals management for much of his career. Pant has made it his life’s mission is to raise awareness of the health and environmental impacts of hazardous chemical substances still commonly used by various industries in a region that lacks legislation. Although he believes regulations can put pressure on the industry to comply, Pant firmly believes that the urge for safe and sustainable chemistry should come through voluntary means.

In 2018 Pant therefore welcomed the opportunity to join ZDHC, as Mumbai-based regional director promoting the programme’s common standards throughout South Asia. When he first began liaising with textile companies on behalf of ZDHC, one of the first challenge he faced was clearing up misconceptions about what the organisation does.

“When I started talking to stakeholders about ZDHC, some were confusing it with India’s Zero Liquid Discharge wastewater strategy, while others thought it was a certification program, such as OEKO-TEX,” saidPant. “I had to explain that ZDHC is a holistic program for chemical management; it’s not a certificate you can hang on the wall, it’s about actions that you have to take.”

After just 18 months on the job, he said clarity and understanding of the program have increased greatly. That’s also because the seeds for change in South Asia were sown earlier, following the establishment of the ZDHC Foundation in 2016.

Friends of ZDHC, December 2018 - Amsterdam

“That’s when the biggest impact started, also because the onus shifted to the chemical industry. The MRSL has expanded the mindset from the end of pipe to the beginning of the manufacturing process,” he said.

This mind shift is essential, given the sheer size of the fashion and footwear manufacturing sector in the countries Pant oversees. India alone is the world’s second-largest producer of textiles and garments after China. It’s a growing sector, estimated to surpass US $200 billion by 2021. In addition, Pant oversees ZDHC’s activities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Aside from increasing the number of ZDHC value chain affiliates throughout the region, he said the biggest challenge now is getting more people to understand how to use ZDHC tools, and how best to take corrective action should wastewater testing reveal nonconformities. This is where ZDHC’s Implementation Hub comes into play. “Via the hub, we’re raising awareness of the ZDHC program through workshops, roadshows and other forms of engagement with stakeholders,” said Pant.

He sees a willingness to initiate lasting change – especially among South Asia’s younger generation of business leaders. They are not conforming to the traditional way of doing business in this part of the world. “They have a global outlook and want to align with a more global way of doing things,” he said.

“I know it’s a mammoth task, and that it can’t be done overnight,” Pant said. “But I know that creating a better understanding of the impact of safe chemical management will lead to better conformance. People in the industry are starting to understand that they’re not just doing it to conform with some mandatory push by the brands they supply. Rather, they understand that what they’re doing affects themselves, and the next generation.”

Looking ahead, Pant said he and his colleagues in South Asia have defined several targets.

He plans to scale up the work he’s already doing by approving more consultants who can continue to engage with manufacturers in the textile supply chain. And he said there’ll be a greater push to start tackling the leather industry in India and Bangladesh, including a ZDHC training module specifically for tanneries. Plus, he said it’s time to expand ZDHC’s impact focus from companies serving the export market to the domestic fashion and footwear industry, particularly in India.

Our Impact -
Article featuring Prasad Pant

„What we most appreciate about ZDHC's approach to chemicals management is that we have a greater opportunity to engage with contributors to develop industry-wide standards. We also value the frequent follow up with contributors to design the ZDHC program.“

Suneth De Silva
Chemical Sustainability, MAS Holdings
2. Key message

Groundwork laid for phase-out of intentional use by 2020

Jointly developing and collaboratively implementing to reach our goals
Our Impact -
Groundwork

Together with our community, we have laid the groundwork and designed the roadmap for brands, suppliers and other stakeholders in the supply chain to advance towards the phase out the intentional use of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

We did this by jointly developing and collaboratively implementing industry-wide guidelines and standards and a comprehensive set of solutions like ZDHC’s Gateway, the Academy and the Implementation HUB. We have also created an approval process and a global network of third-party labs which are capable of testing all the wastewater parameters to ensure that our objectives are met. Additionally, we have created a public disclosure map to be more transparent about the programme impact and support reporting on the phase out of the use of chemicals in the supply chain.

What is meant by “intentional use”

The term “intentional use” refers to hazardous chemicals that are used intentionally in the textile supply chain to achieve a desired look or functionality. There is also unintentional use which may occur due to the fact that chemicals used in textile production are not as pure as those used in food or pharmaceutical products for example. ZDHC’s goal is to set purity standards that are high but also achievable. With this approach we have been successful. Recent tests (last 18 months) have shown that those facilities in the textile supply chain, that have committed to our standards and use our tools have almost completely phased out the intentional use of 11 priority chemical groups, defined by Greenpeace. 3 of those chemical groups, all of which are performance chemicals, are proving harder to replace for some manufacturers but here also much progress has been made and with continued effort and innovation they too are likely to be replaced soon by safe alternatives.

Our Impact -
ZDHC Toolbox

The ZDHC Toolbox

We have created chemical management tools which are designed to enable the industry to be more transparent about the use of chemicals in our value chain. They offer support in finding safer alternatives for the substitution of hazardous chemicals and help assess the performance of facilities in their efforts of implementing the ZDHC programme.

Chemical Module is the world’s first verified database of safer chemistry for the apparel and footwear industry. It enables suppliers to evaluate the ZDHC MRSL conformance level of chemical formulations used in production processes.

Wastewater Module is a global online platform to register and share verified wastewater test data against the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. Via the ZDHC Gateway - Wastewater Module, ZDHC continues to promote transparency in an opaque supply chain.

ZDHC InCheck Report is a universally accepted chemical inventory standard that enables suppliers to measure their input chemistry conformance via an online inventory assessment.

ZDHC ChemCheck is a ZDHC MRSL Conformity Certificate specifically for chemical formulators to use to prove the conformance of their products to their customers.

ClearStream gives suppliers a way to understand and communicate their laboratory’s wastewater test results. By doing so it helps them to position as a leader in striving for environmental protection.

The ZDHC Academy is the go-to training platform to create awareness, build knowledge and enable skills on sustainable chemical management and ZDHC tools along the textile, apparel, footwear (including leather) supply chains.

Learn more about ZDHC Acdademy

ZDHC Academy

At ZDHC, we’ve recognised that training the people working all along the fashion supply chain is essential for the changes we’re making to be effective. Even if you start with the best chemistry, you could still end up with a problem in wastewater or emissions if chemicals are used improperly, or the right processes aren’t followed.

6.334

New Accounts created on the ZDHC Academy Platform

15

ZDHC Accredited Training Providers

2.922

Total Training Participants

18

Different countries where trainings were held

234

Training sessions held

That’s why we created the ZDHC Academy in 2016, to serve as a training platform driving the implementation of our chemical management tools. We offer training across the entire value chain, including brands, retailers, manufacturers, tanneries and policy makers. We have a pool of accredited training providers who use certified training materials. Training sessions are available in local languages in all of the world’s key sourcing and retail regions, totalling nearly two dozen countries. We offer training modules that are tailor made for the participants, incorporating brand/retailer specific requirements, and we’re also developing new training modules to cover more subject areas and address target audiences in new places.

The Implementation HUB is the vehicle with which ZDHC is driving continuous improvements and progress around our offerings for brands, retailers and manufacturers with regard to baselining, strategy setting and implementation. The HUB leverages existing expertise and offers a platform to find ZDHC accredited experts for chemical and environmental management projects.

Our Impact -
Statistics

Our Impact

Our impact on the apparel and footwear supply chain
100%

of signatory brands are committed to use the ZDHC MRSLby the Signatory Brand Leader Programme.

76%

of signatory brands have implemented the ZDHC wastewater guidelines.

82

testing labs around the world have been approved by ZDHC to conduct accurate wastewater testing.

47

certification standards and testing labs around the world have been approved by ZDHC as MRSL Conformance Indicators.

In the last 18 months, the number of wastewater test reports published on ZDHC Gateway – Wastewater Module has increased by 40 fold, from 100 to 4,000 reports.

3. key message

Less discharge of hazardous chemicals into the environment

ZDHC Community has achieved tangible results towards our goal
Our Impact -
Less discharge

Together with leading brands, governments and other multi-stakeholder organisations, we have created the most comprehensive, unified guidelines for wet processing facilities across the entire value chain - the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines.

They go beyond regulatory compliance and help to ensure the discharge of treated wastewater does not adversely affect the environment and surrounding communities.

Product manufacturers are expected to use MRSL-compliant formulations. This is verified twice a year through wastewater testing at ZDHC-accredited laboratories. It’s important to note that wastewater testing is a snapshot in time. But it is a useful tool in demonstrating supply chain improvement and promoting transparency in manufacturing communities.

In the eight years since our founding, the ZDHC community has contributed to a significant reduction of discharge of hazardous chemicals into the environment. Analysis of the most recent wastewater testing data shows that 98% of facilities in our sample have no detections in the 11 hazardous chemical groups which reflects that those chemicals are no longer intentionally used by the ZDHC community. However, some chemicals show up in sludge rather than wastewater, so the overall picture is incomplete until sludge is included in the evaluation.

Our Impact -
Intro Text for Graphs

Recent wastewater data analysis shows..

Recent consecutive wastewater testing (last 18 months) shows that on average 98 % of the facilities that are following our guidelines and solutions and using our tools have met the requirements or have no detections in MRSL analytes.  

97,17%
APEOs
98,29%
Chlorobenzenes and Chlorotuluenes
98,39%
Chlorophenois
98,41%
Dyes - Azo
98,58%
Dyes - Carcinogenic or Equivalent Concern
98,58%
Dyes - Disperse
98,58%
Flame Retardants
98,58%
Glycois
97,64%
Halogenated Solvents
98,35%
Organotin Compounds
98,23%
Otho-Phthalates
97,56%
PFCs
% of facilities with non-detections per analyte group

The wastewater results show a significant improvement in performance over time. Most of the 11 priority chemical groups are no longer intentionally used by the ZDHC Community.

Read Disclaimer
The 11 priority chemical groups

The 11 priority groups of hazardous chemicals were only the starting point, chosen because the scientific evidence of their toxicity was so strong that NGO’s saw an immediate need to prioritize their phase out. Today, ZDHC’s MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substances List) includes the relevant substances from the original 11 chemical groups, along with additional substances, based on discussions with qualified experts from the ZDHC’s former Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), and member brands. Here’s an overview of the original 11 priority groups, why they’re hazardous, and where we the ZDHC community stands on their elimination from the supply chain, based on recent wastewater testing data.

Read Full Interview with Dr. Kirsten Brodde

Greenpeace has taken a pause from active campaigning and is counting on the industry to continue its efforts beyond 2020. Where do you still see the most urgent need for change?

Detox is an ongoing process and committed companies need to maintain their work on continuous improvement. It also needs to spread further - the collective progress made means there is now no excuse for the rest of the  textile industry, or any other industrial sector, not to endorse and implement Detox. The sector relies heavily on resources, especially raw materials, water, chemicals and energy, with high impacts in supply chain processes such as spinning and wet processing. The systematic and transparent approach to hazardous chemicals taken by Detox committed companies as well as the ZDHC is an excellent starting point for reducing the use of other resources, such as materials, water and energy.

However, on its own this will not be enough: as Greenpeace showed in reports such as “Fashion at the Crossroads”, it is vital to tackle the big and increasing problem of overproduction, poor quality and lack of durability, which is multiplying the negative impacts of clothing, including hazardous chemicals, the contribution of microplastic fibres to ocean pollution, waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

What are your specific demands regarding the fashion brands, textile producers and chemical suppliers?

Work together and keep pushing the level of ambition of your Detox programmes - by adopting the latest and best detection limits and scope of hazardous chemicals. We expect progressive chemical suppliers to respond positively to the needs of their clients by developing safer alternatives avoiding “regrettable substitution” and drastically reducing contaminants, so called “non-intentional” substances. There’s also an urgent need for chemical suppliers to ensure the transparency of safety, toxicity and hazard data passed onto downstream users. All companies need to take responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions - especially energy intensive processes such as spinning and wet processing - by reducing energy use and switching to 100% renewable energy.

Local and global regulations from policy makers are necessary to enforce environmental protection and level the playing-field, by requiring companies that are not committed to Detox to operate at the same level. For slowing and closing the loop, Extended Producer Responsibility policies are required to internalise the impacts of textile manufacturing and move towards a slow and circular business model i.e. higher quality, more durable and repairable products.

How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Dr. Volker Schröder, TEGEWA

"Brand demand drives chemicals innovation."

Interview with Dr. Volker Schröder, TEGEWA

Interview with Dr. Volker Schröder – TEGEWA, Association of Manufacturers of Process and Performance Chemicals Producers

Read the full interview


How did the chemicals industry respond to ZDHC’s demand for safer chemicals?

When the request was made for the industry to avoid certain chemical groups, it was definitely seen as a challenge and potentially a threat to business.  We had to take a closer look at the composition of formulations, examine the raw materials and learn more about the unwanted substances in textile processing.

Speaking for chemicals companies in Europe, I can say that after thinking about it more deeply, most of them felt it was an opportunity to get a competitive advantage. So, during those first years after 2011 there was also a mind shift in the chemicals industry in Europe. Many companies were able to develop chemical formulations that are ZDHC compliant and they saw this as a chance to show they’re serious about sustainability and for most of the 11 groups of chemicals they have succeeded in developing alternatives.  

How did they do this?

It’s both looking for alternative substances, as well as cleaning up and removing contaminants from existing formulations. The latter is where we saw the most immediate effect. It took some time, but companies were able to develop better quality formulations with regard to residues and chemical synthesis. And it was good to have ZDHC making demands that were challenging, but also achievable.  

Apart from telling the chemical industry which toxins to tackle, how is ZDHC spurring the development of safer alternatives?

In the beginning only very few brands were asking the chemicals industry for alternative formulations. But to make their development economically viable, we needed a larger share of the market demanding these products. That’s where ZDHC made a big difference by significantly increasing the demand as their community grew. ZDHC contributors were instrumental in pushing the chemicals industry for alternatives and they really got the ball rolling. When pressure is applied by brands and their customers, it’s far more effective in driving innovation, than regulatory pressure which takes longer.

Can you give an example of this?

For more than 10 years, regulatory pressure in Europe has been growing to ban PFCs, which are used in textiles to make them water, stain and oil repellent.  We’ve known how to handle the environmental risks caused by PFCs for many years – that they escape into wastewater during apparel production if not monitored effectively. But it wasn’t until there was growing demand by brands that the number of PFC-free technologies dramatically increased. Replacing high risk PFCs by low risk PFC or if possible by PFC-free technologies has been the most significant challenge during this past decade.

Have you succeeded?

It remains a persistent problem for parts of the outdoor clothing industry due to its high demands for performance. The vast majority of major clothing brands have eliminated PFCs. At the start of the ZDHC programme many brands had very high-performance criteria concerning water repellence which weren’t always necessary for everyday clothing, and when they started to accept this, it became easier for the chemical industry to offer affordable PFC-free alternatives. So sometimes it’s a matter of the brands and the chemicals companies deciding what functionality is actually really needed and balancing performance and price. Very high repellence is still needed for professional protective clothing for fire fighters and armed forces, for medical devices and many technical textile applications - but not for most ordinary apparel.

To what extent is cost a factor in manufacturing safer replacement chemicals?

Cost is a factor for innovations, but no innovations are costlier. In the beginning individual brands were asking the chemicals suppliers to come up with their own safer formulations, but now they are converging and increasingly accepting the ZDHC standards. We would like to see more speed in implementing these tools. That would significantly reduce the complexity for the chemicals manufacturers and the users of chemicals, the inventories can be reduced and there is less confusion on the market. Higher costs for third party certifications could then be compensated by increased demand, higher efforts by the mills should be valued as well. In turn the brands and the consumers will benefit from this.

How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Scott Echols,
ZDHC Programme Director

"The ZDHC Gateway - A database for safer chemistry"

Article by Scott Echols,
ZDHC Programme Director

ZDHC’s MRSL is just one list of chemicals of concern and related restrictions. Across the fashion industry, there are many more such lists. Tracking and managing these lists to ensure compliance can be an overwhelming task for manufacturers and suppliers. ZDHC’s Gateway Chemical Module offers a positive solution, giving companies trustworthy information about chemicals that are safe to use.

Read the full Article

“ZDHC’s Manufacturing Restricted Substances List was a key step in expanding the focus of chemical management from end of pipe to beginning of pipe – but in essence, it’s a list that tells companies what chemicals they can’t use,” said ZDHC’s Programme Director Scott Echols. “What we had to do was address the concerns of manufacturers who were saying to us, ‘tell us what we can use.’ And that’s where the ZDHC Gateway Chemical Module comes in.”

Launched in 2017, the Chemical Module is an advanced search engine for chemical formulations that conform to the ZDHC MRSL. Textile, apparel and leather manufacturers can use it to find safer alternatives and substitute hazardous chemicals in their production processes. It maps products against existing chemical accreditation such as bluesign, GOTS or OEKO-Tex STeP, and more to provides manufacturers with documentation to determine the level that a chemical product conforms with the ZDHC MRSL.

“To explain this in different terms, imagine, for example, I asked a chef to use only organic, pesticide-free ingredients and then sent him a list of all the pesticides he couldn’t use,” said Echols. “It wouldn’t be of much use.”

“But what if I told him to go to the organic food section of the store and choose produce from there? Well, perhaps he then wouldn’t trust the handwritten sign, so he might look for existing certifications which could indicate a level of trust that these products are truly organic.”

In this way, Echols says, the Gateway Chemical Module builds on the ZDHC MRSL by providing a “positive list” of safer chemical formulations. The product rating is based on third-party product accreditation standards which show to which level (with levels ranging from 0 to 3) a chemical product conforms with the ZDHC MRSL. A high-level rating of conformance indicates a high level of confidence that the chemical formulation conforms to the ZDHC MRSL.

Since its launch, Echols says, the ZDHC Gateway Chemical Module has been a valuable tool for companies interested in safer chemistry. And, it’s proof positive of ZDHC’s commitment to easing regulatory confusion of chemical management standards.

The Way Ahead

We’re far from done. Some hazardous chemicals are still present in products as well as in the production environment. As the ZDHC programme moves beyond its 2020 commitment, we will continue to clean up the apparel and footwear supply chain by expanding our community and building our local representation in production regions. We will engage neighbouring supply chains to reduce cross-contamination from other industry segments that share manufacturing facilities. And we will continue to serve as an educator to the whole supply chain, investing in programme excellence and making our tools more effective and publicly available to drive sustainable chemical management beyond our community.

"Our ultimate mission: clean water, clean air, safe workers and safe products."

Frank Michel,
ZDHC Executive Director
The Way Ahead -
Interview with Frank Michel

Interview with Frank Michel,
ZDHC Executive Director

What are ZDHC’s priorities going forward, and how does it plan to scale up its achievements? ZDHC Executive Director Frank Michel takes a look at the road ahead.

ZDHC’s Roadmap to Zero Program originally set 2020 as a milestone in the phasing out of hazardous chemicals. With 2020 around the corner, how far has the community come in achieving its objectives, and how are you planning to pursue your goals going forward?

At this milestone, we are celebrating that we’ve created awareness about the need to phase out hazardous chemicals, that we now have a community in place that is largely scalable, and that we have representation in the main production regions. We’re also celebrating a shift from the finite 2020 goal, to an infinite roadmap to zero program.

We haven’t yet accomplished everything we set out to achieve back in 2011, but we are going to continue with an increasing number of brands, a rapidly growing community, and a firm commitment to advance towards zero discharge.

What is the top priority for ZDHC now?

Now that we’ve achieved awareness and have our Sustainable Chemical Management Framework in place, our next challenge is to scale implementation. Representation is a key component in that, which is why we’re focusing on leveraging local workforce consultants, training more trainers, and working with local authorities to endorse ZDHC standards. That’s also why we’re introducing our leader programs, such as our Signatory Brand Leader Program, which measures and assesses the joint implementation of our chemical management framework among our signatory brands. The other key element in scaling up implementation is convergence.

What does that involve?

Convergence is about brands and manufacturers aligning around ZDHC MRSL and reducing duplication of efforts. At the moment, manufacturers are being asked to comply with multiple MRSLs from organisations. And while they may be acting with good intention, the result is duplication of efforts. What manufacturers want is to have one standard for compliance, and this is where our brand program convergence comes into play. Just recently, three big players – Levis, H&M and Inditex – converged their individual initiatives toward ZDHC’s program, and we’re hoping more brands will follow suit. It’s our hope that convergence will lead to a mind shift among manufacturers away from implementing ZDHC standards merely in response to customer requests, to implementing for purpose. And by that I mean our ultimate mission: clean water, clean air, safe workers and safe products.

"We are going to continue with a rapidly growing community and a firm commitment to advance towards zero discharge", Frank Michel.

ZDHC has also committed to engaging and educating other stakeholders. What form will those efforts take going forward?

We know that we’re not working in isolation; we also have neighbour supply chains. If you look at leather for example, we’re working with tanneries that are also producing for the automotive industry. We’re working with fabric mills which also produce for work wear or home textile brands. So looking at the ZDHC program, of course we want to educate the neighbour supply chain in order to reduce cross contamination from their products into the apparel and footwear sector.

In terms of global relevance of the program, we’re working with organisations such as the United Nations’ environmental program and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with their sustainable development goals. This helps to educate policy makers as well as other industries on the concept of controlling chemical input and hopefully scaling our Sustainable Chemical Management Framework, beyond the textile and footwear industry.

What makes you optimistic that ZDHC can achieve its goals?

What makes me optimistic is my childhood. As a boy growing up in Germany, I used to play in a deserted factory site, and I saw the chemical drums lying around – this was in the middle of Europe! And when I look now at the production countries for the apparel industry, I see more or less the same circumstances. Most of Europe has since been cleaned up, and it wasn’t rocket science. It was awareness and a smart mix of both regulation and industry initiative to better manage the chemistry and to take care of the environment. Because at the end of the day, we’re all drinking the same water and breathing the same air. By diverting production into far away countries, we’re not eliminating the problem – we still share the same planet after all. But now in China, for instance, I’m seeing that there is increasing awareness about air and water pollution, and as a result, stricter regulations. And I’m optimistic that this will also be the case in other production countries.

“Detox is still tackled separately without considering connections to other environmental and social issues, such as water and energy saving or biodiversity. A more holistic approach is needed. The strong engagement in an industry initiative should also facilitate collective action on other environmental issues.”

Marijke Schöttmer
Manager Environmental Protection.
4. key message

Our job isn't done yet.

Our job isn't done yet, we still face challenges but working towards tangible solutions.
The Way Ahead -
3 Hazardous chemical groups

Of the 11 priority chemical groups originally identified by Greenpeace, 3 groups of performance chemicals are proving harder to substitute than the rest. While some manufacturers have already phased them out, others are finding it particularly challenging to come up with equally effective substitutions. Wastewater testing shows that substantial progress has already been made by the ZDHC community to reduce their impact and with continued effort and innovation these 3 remaining hazardous groups are likely to be replaced soon. They are APEOs, Phthalates and PFCs. Here’s a description of why they’re used, why they’re harmful and their current status.

The 3 hazardous chemical groups that still present a challenge

Alkylphenols &
ethoxylates (APEOs)

Why are they used?

Alkylphenol ethoxylates are a group of chemicals that are used in many textile and leather applications. APEO’s can be used as or found in:detergents, scouring agents, spinning oils, wetting agents, softeners, emulsifier/dispersing agents for dyes and prints, impregnating agents, de- gumming for silk production, dyes and pigment preparations, polyester padding and down/feather fillings.

How toxic are they?

APEOs can degrade into alkylphenols and some are very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.  In addition, some are suspected of damaging human fertility and unborn children.

What’s their status?

There are many high-performing, cost-effective safer alternatives to APEOs. Due to European regulations, some chemical companies, mostly based in Europe, do not make APEO’s anymore for textile applications. It may not be straightforward to eliminate APEO’s from the leather and textile supply chains by 2020 due to their ubiquitous presence, their use in non-textile related functions, such as washing drums and janitorial work, and the fact that they are not regulated in all countries that produce apparel.

Phthalates

Why are they used?

Phthalates can be present on finished products, including apparel and leather, partly because they may be present in some printing inks to provide a specific hand. They are intentionally added to the product by the textile manufacturer.

How toxic are they?

Phthalates are hormone disruptors. Small amounts can have a big effect on human health and the environment. Exposure to phthalates has been associated with: Asthma attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neuro-developmental issues, behavioural issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.

What’s their status?

Brands have really stepped up and many have implemented usage bans for a selection of phthalates. Many brands have a usage ban or no intentional use on phthalates on both their RSL and MRSL.

Poly-and Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

Why are they used?

Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs and PFASs) are a group of chemicals that provide durable water repellency and stain management properties to textiles and leather.

How toxic are they?

Some PFCs are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. PFOA and PFOS are very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. PFOA and PFOS have the potential to bioaccumulate in humans and other mammals.  Above certain exposure levels, PFOA and PFOS primarily affect the liver, may impair human fertility, or cause harm to unborn children. PFOA and PFOS may result in the development of cancer above certain exposure levels.

What’s their status?

The brand response has been varied between fashion and outdoor brands given that outdoor brand products benefit from DWR technology. Many RSLs have PFOA and PFOS and the MRSL has expanded this list to additional long chain PFCs. This is due in part, because both PFOA and PFOS are under the scrutiny of regulators. Many brands have committed to eliminating long chain PFCs; however non-fluorinated products do not provide oil repellency and hence the journey is hard.  It could be very difficult to meet the 2020 deadline due to the lack of suitable alternatives that provide the required functionality.

How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Lydia Lin, ZDHC East Asia Regional Director

"The search for safer
replacement chemicals"

Article by Lydia Lin, ZDHC Regional Director

"Empowering manufacturers to phase out harmful chemicals listed on the MRSL is just one side of the coin. To truly move toward an era of sustainable chemical management in the apparel and footwear industry without compromising on product quality, innovation is needed to develop safe replacement chemicals. Here, we look at how that process is working for one large-volume chemical group in China."

Read the full Article
Lydia Lin, Regional Director for East Asia
Dr. Cui Yanjun of Huafon Group, a leader in the production and marketing of polyurethane (PU) resin in China:

“We have participated in several technical conference sessions organized by ZDHC in China in recent years, and have been meeting more and more customers – including end users such as H&M, C&A, and Inditex – who are committed to offering eco-friendly synthetic leather to the market. ZDHC has built up a great platform for information exchange throughout the whole synthetic leather value chain. By communicating with end users, we can understand their concerns about hazardous chemicals in phasing out DMF-based synthetic leather. They can share with us their requirements and expectations in terms of product performance, and we can share our progress in solvent-free polyurethane research work. We are optimistic about growing market acceptance in the coming years, and we appreciate ZDHC's great efforts and initiatives in the DMF phase-out campaign.”

China is now on its way to creating a green supply chain for its sizeable synthetic leather industry, thanks to industry consensus on the need to replace dimethyl fumarate (DMF), says ZDHC East Asia Regional Director Lydia Lin. DMF is commonly used in the production of polyurethane (PU) coated synthetic leathers, but it has proven hazardous to human health.

In 2012, DMF was listed by the EU as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC). Many fashion brands searching for an alternative have found an acceptable alternative, together with their suppliers of synthetic leather. As a result, several major firms have required the removal of DMF from their supply chains, with deadlines ranging from 2020 to 2025.

“ZDHC had also listed DMF as a hazardous substance in need of alternative development. With more companies getting involved, and with cooperation and dialogue within the sector, production of DMF-free alternatives, such as water-based synthetic leather and solvent-free synthetic leather, grew by 120% and 40% respectively from 2015 by May of last year. We expect that to continue,” said Lin.

Manufacturers who were quick to make the switch to DMF-free alternatives say they now have an edge over their competition. “After joining ZDHC, we were convinced that water-based PU is the main trend in our market,” said Zhang Feng, vice general manager of Kunshan XiefuNew Material Technology. “We invested in our Nantong plant to produce water-based PU, and now more and more brands such as Zara and H&M are choosing this to replace traditional PU coating, so we have a great competitive advantage at present.

Tian Jingyan, the vice general-secretary of China’s processing industry association, CPASL, agrees that the focus on DMF-free alternatives is having a big impact on China’s synthetic leather industry. “After the collaboration with ZDHC, with the push from brands and the investment and technology development effort along the supply chain, if you compare figures from 2015 to now, we can say that China is on the path to setting up a green supply chain in the synthetic leather industry. Water-based PU is estimated to increase 600 percent, and solvent-free PU is estimated to increase 460 percent.”

Progress on PFCs

Lin says the effort to replace PFCs (per- and polyfluorinated compounds, used to make fabrics water and stain repellent) also stands out as a strong example of how ZDHC brands are joining together to phase out hazardous chemicals.

“Many ZDHC brands have committed to the PFC ban, and Greenpeace’s report on the effects of its Detox campaign shows that many brands have either phased out or are close to phasing out PFCs. I have seen how many new technologies have been developed after the ZDHC brands announced their PFC phase-out strategy,” she said.

5. key message

Engage, Educate, Expand our work to create an even stronger community

We have identified our focus areas for the next 10 years to drive even better chemical management.
The Way Ahead -
Engage, Educate, Expand

We want to make safe products the norm – everywhere. We are reaching out to companies and organizations to share our vision and ambition for the future. To do this effectively we will continue to expand our collaborative multi-stakeholder approach:

  • We will provide information to consumers about chemicals used in the textile, apparel and footwear (including leather) supply chain.
  • We will continue to develop, refine and share valuable tools for suppliers to help them implement best chemical management practices that will improve their processes and become industry standards.
  • We will provide on-going guidance and support to brands located in the retail fashion sector and execute action plans to achieve widespread implementation.
  • We will continue to identify and seek engagement opportunities with key stakeholders and partners. We will spread the word, share our work, educate others and promote the drive towards safer chemicals and cleaner supply chains across all industries. Our goal is to continuously increase our credibility and relevance on both a local and global level.
The Way Ahead -
The next milestones

The next milestones

We have identified our focus areas for the next 10 years to drive even better chemical management, more deeply into the supply chain. Our objectives and goals include:

Convergence

By 2022, initiatives and brand programs will be converged. Through collaboration, we are spearheading the convergence of initiatives and brand programmes to reduce complexity, minimize duplication, avoid confusion and enhance the speed and scale.

2022
Establishment

By 2025, we will expand our organization and create an infrastructure in other relevant textiles regions including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

2025
Safeguarding

By 2030, our mission will be to ensure ZDHC safeguards a supply chain free from hazardous chemicals. Our work will be cemented and will be considered as normal business practices rather than best practices!

2030
How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Alessandra Tortora,
ZDHC Southern Europe Regional Director

"Convergence and sustainable chemistry are the future focus in Europe"

Interview with Alessandra Tortora, ZDHC’s Regional Director for Europe

As ZDHC’s Regional Director for Southern Europe, Alessandra Tortora is working to grow the ZDHC community, and improve convergence among its members. At the same time, she’s keen to promote opportunities for innovation among the manufacturers of chemicals, as Europe moves toward even greater sustainable chemical management.

Read the full interview

How would you describe the focus of your work with current and prospective ZDHC community members in Europe?  

Even greater brand convergence is the main goal. We want to get all brands to align under ZDHC-developed guidelines and tools, so that manufacturers can be compliant with one set of standards, and not multiple sets as is currently the case. For me, the biggest selling point when trying to convince brands to come on board is, quite simply, our tools for chemical management. The ZDHC Gateway and some of the programs we’re developing to help brands trace their own roadmap to sustainability are unique to the ZDHC. Plus, brands like the fact that we are a global organization, working to create a global community all dedicated to the same goal.

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Much of Europe has already come a long way in phasing out the intentional use of hazardous chemicals. What should be the next step  for Europe in your view?

I think in Europe it’s time to move the focus to the development of sustainable, circular chemistry. This is the next frontier. We know that we have to move away from a chemistry that is based on oil. The chemical industry needs to use sustainable raw materials, for example from agricultural waste. This type of innovation requires government funding for research and development. But ZDHC can also play a role in this by creating incentives for the chemical industry to innovate, by organizing projects and facilitating the links between the big multinationals and the smaller chemical manufacturers.

“We expect ZDHC to work towards greater cost effectiveness of waste water testing. Currently some brands still require separate tests resulting in duplication of effort and unnecessary expenditure. Also we are in favour of one common harmonized lab testing methodology to evaluate all results.”

Tauhidul Islam
Compliance Manager
How we Started -
Article by Lydia Lin
Dr. Kirsten Brodde, Greenpeace

"Work together and keep pushing the level of ambition"

Interview with Dr. Kirsten Brodde, Greenpeace Germany

Read part 2 of the interview

Greenpeace has taken a pause from active campaigning and is counting on the industry to continue its efforts beyond 2020. Where do you still see the most urgent need for change?

Detox is an ongoing process and committed companies need to maintain their work on continuous improvement. It also needs to spread further - the collective progress made means there is now no excuse for the rest of the  textile industry, or any other industrial sector, not to endorse and implement Detox. The sector relies heavily on resources, especially raw materials, water, chemicals and energy, with high impacts in supply chain processes such as spinning and wet processing. The systematic and transparent approach to hazardous chemicals taken by Detox committed companies as well as the ZDHC is an excellent starting point for reducing the use of other resources, such as materials, water and energy.

However, on its own this will not be enough: as Greenpeace showed in reports such as “Fashion at the Crossroads”, it is vital to tackle the big and increasing problem of overproduction, poor quality and lack of durability, which is multiplying the negative impacts of clothing, including hazardous chemicals, the contribution of microplastic fibres to ocean pollution, waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

What are your specific demands regarding the fashion brands, textile producers and chemical suppliers?

Work together and keep pushing the level of ambition of your Detox programmes - by adopting the latest and best detection limits and scope of hazardous chemicals. We expect progressive chemical suppliers to respond positively to the needs of their clients by developing safer alternatives avoiding “regrettable substitution” and drastically reducing contaminants, so called “non-intentional” substances. There’s also an urgent need for chemical suppliers to ensure the transparency of safety, toxicity and hazard data passed onto downstream users. All companies need to take responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions - especially energy intensive processes such as spinning and wet processing - by reducing energy use and switching to 100% renewable energy.

Local and global regulations from policy makers are necessary to enforce environmental protection and level the playing-field, by requiring companies that are not committed to Detox to operate at the same level. For slowing and closing the loop, Extended Producer Responsibility policies are required to internalise the impacts of textile manufacturing and move towards a slow and circular business model i.e. higher quality, more durable and repairable products.