An important element of the value chain
Fibres are an important part of the value chain. Therefore it’s a logical next step for ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme to include fibre production processes and their raw materials. In 2018, the scope of the Programme extended to include the production of Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres (MMCF). This is the first fibre production area included in the Programme. More materials will be added in the future.
Global viscose production is growing fast, which is why the initial focus is on Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres (MMCF; including viscose, modal and lyocell). MMCFs are produced from natural feedstock like wood or plants, using hazardous chemicals. Within the production process of viscose and modal, particularly where that’s not an integrated (closed loop) process, chemicals react with the cellulose. This creates by-products, which can be released into the air, water and soil, so we’ve been working to tackle the issue.
An 2018 industry expert report commissioned by ZDHC concluded that restricting chemicals via the ZDHC MRSL approach would not work. The restrictions would halt most MMCF production processes. We would achieve most impact by collaboratively setting guidance around good chemical management and limits for wastewater, sludge, and air emissions during fibre production. At the same time ZDHC can continue researching MMCF production processes using less hazardous chemicals.
In March 2018, ZDHC hosted the first multi-stakeholder MMCF roundtable with representatives from approximately 80% of the global MMCF production. Several ZDHC Signatory Brands attended, including C&A, Coop Switzerland, Esprit, Inditex, H&M, M&S, Primark, PVH Corp and F&F, as well as Value Chain Affiliates Lenzing Group, BIRLA CELLULOSE, Sateri, Canopy, Textile Exchange, Bluesign and the China Chemical Fibers Association (CCFA), the Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (CV) and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.
The roundtable agreed that ZDHC should lead a collaboration to develop a framework of guidelines for wastewater, sludge, waste and air emissions specific to MMCF production, and expectations for process by-product recovery rates. The guidelines will, for now, focus on MMCF production. Dissolving pulp production processes will be considered at a later stage.
In April 2019, an agreement on limit values was reached to move forward with the MMCF wastewater pilot. This will give ZDHC a deeper understanding on the state of the industry and enable the translation of data into limit values, for the final draft of the guidelines.
As of July 2018 a Task Team (the MMCF Task Team) composed of the roundtable participants worked to draft the wastewater guidelines. The main aims were to:
In May 2019, the MMCF Task Team began working with the Task Team of the Output Focus Area specialised in Air Emissions. They are creating a first draft of MMCF guidelines for Air Emissions. This will generate alignment with both guidelines and accelerate progress on an MMCF guideline for Air Emissions.
Proving ZDHC MRSL conformance
Sourcing and managing chemicals properly helps to reduce their environmental impact. Key to that effort is using chemical formulations that conform to the ZDHC MRSL.
A chemical conforms when it does not contain substances that are listed on the ZDHC MRSL, at levels above the set limits.
Conformance Guidance offers a recognised, credible way to prove how well a chemical product conforms to ZDHC MRSL standards. It helps chemical formulators to measure and prove that conformance to their customers.
Measuring ZDHC MRSL Conformance
Four different conformance levels are achievable for a chemical product. If it earns a higher level, we would generally have more information on that chemical product and how it's made. There is more confidence that it would consistently be free from substances flagged in the ZDHC MRSL.
Third party evaluations
Independent, third-party evaluations confirm a chemical company’s claims regarding ZDHC MRSL conformance. This provides extra clarity and reassurance on how well a chemical formulation meets ZDHC MRSL requirements.
Increased transparency worldwide
As well as helping companies take control of the chemicals they use, the ZDHC MRSL contributes to knowledge within the industry. As chemical companies converge on the ZDHC MRSL, it increases visibility on substances being used throughout the industry.
Certification standards are widely used to measure the conformance of chemical products. Rather than creating yet another standard, we decided to leverage the existing ones.
We do this by measuring how well a standard can indicate a chemical product's conformance to the ZDHC MRSL. Certified standards can be accepted by ZDHC to certify a product's performance at one of ZDHC's four conformance levels.
Products certified by these standards are directly verified and officially ranked within the ZDHC Gateway – Chemical Module.
Below is a list of the currently accepted certification standards and the level of ZDHC MRSL conformance they can indicate.
How to become a ZDHC Accepted Certification Standard
A paradigm shift is happening throughout the value chain. By managing chemical inputs, we
want to ensure safer products, cleaner water and fresher air. That will truly benefit both people and planet. Our solutions help the industry to transform their value chains.
When it comes to using safer chemical inputs, it's important to know what the options are. That's where the ZDHC MRSL comes in. It supports good chemical management by helping to avoid the use of banned substances during production and manufacturing. This solution facilitates the creation of end products that meet the requirements for cleaner outputs.
The ZDHC MRSL is regularly updated with new chemicals and processes that should be phased out of the supply chain. We want to ensure those updates are always done in a transparent, consistent way. So we created this guideline to keep everything on track. It explains the process of how we update the ZDHC MRSL.
Collaboration is a key success factor when implementing the ZDHC MRSL. We’ve identified four key stakeholder types that play a key role: Certification Bodies, “Chemical” Formulators, Facilities/Suppliers and Brands/Retailers. By implementing in a collaborative, connected way, these stakeholders can reduce the impact of the implementation efforts. This document provides a standard approach to help achieve this.
As part of the open approach we take, our door is always open for new information. The MRSL Submission portal is part of this two-way communication. It's a channel to gather new submission to amend a limit, propose a new substance or a process that should be added to the ZDHC MRSL. If we are missing information, we want to know about it. This portal will allow people to submit their suggestions quickly and easily.
This document outlines the requirements for indicating ZDHC MRSL conformance. It shows how confident we are that a chemical formulation would always conform. That's useful information for chemical formulators wanting to make safer products. Because ZDHC Accepted Certification Standards are used to indicate conformance, this document also shows those standards how to earn ZDHC acceptance.
Rather than creating our own certification standard, it makes more sense to leverage those already available in the market. We do that by awarding ZDHC Accepted Status. To earn acceptance, a standard will be thoroughly assessed. We will see how well it indicates a formulation's conformance to the ZDHC MRSL. Those listed below have earned ZDHC Acceptance.
This online platform helps us to scale our efforts. We created the world's first database of safer chemistry for the entire value chain. This digital tool simplifies the search for alternatives. It provides an easy entryway to register and browse safer chemistry solutions. The Gateway builds trust and reduces the administrative burden throughout the value chain.
The ZDHC Gateway - Chemical Module is a web-based solution that supports the entire value chain. This advanced search engine enables registering and finding chemical formulations that comply with the ZDHC MRSL. It simplifies the search for more sustainable chemicals and best practices.
Chemical formulators that join the ZDHC Gateway play a leading role in advancing the industry towards safer chemical management. When their product conforms to the ZDHC MRSL, they can upload it and show its performance. This platform lets formulators classify their chemical products, while virtual catalogues help them reach out to customers.
ZDHC ChemCheck Report
Formulators can generate a ZDHC ChemCheck Report for their published products on the ZDHC Gateway - Chemical Module. They can use it to assure customers that their chemical products meet ZDHC MRSL requirements. This report can be downloaded, printed or shared electronically via PDF.
Suppliers can browse through a central library of chemical formulations that conform to the ZDHC MRSL. For various chemical products, ZDHC MRSL Conformance Levels and details are available. Suppliers can invite their chemical formulators to register more products on the ZDHC Gateway, which also supports continuous improvement of the ZDHC Gateway chemical inventory.
This report shows how much a chemical inventory conforms to the requirements of the ZDHC MRSL. A comprehensive overview of a supplier’s chemical inventory and its overall conformance is produced, all in an easy-to-read report. ZDHC InCheck provides clear, understandable results and helpful guidance to increase the use of safer chemistry.
By acting as a library for safer, innovative chemical alternatives, the Gateway increases transparency, while supporting more sustainable procurement decisions. Brands can use the platform to educate their suppliers on the more sustainable procurement options. It also helps in asking suppliers to raise the bar on chemical management.
The Gateway removes the burden of maintaining positive lists and highlighting preferred chemistry to multiple suppliers. Brands can simply mark their preferences in one place, where suppliers can then find them. In addition, brands can see verified wastewater results via ClearStream Reports. These are based on tests conducted by ZDHC Accepted Laboratories, in accordance with the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines.