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The evolution of the ZDHC MRSL continues as Version 2.0 launches

July 5, 2020

This is a key step towards reducing the use of hazardous chemicals in the industry.

On November, 27, 2019 version 2.0 of the ZDHC MRSL was released. This is a key step towards reducing the use of hazardous chemicals in the industry. The ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL) is a list of chemical substances banned from intentional use in facilities processing textile materials, leather, rubber, foam, adhesives and trim parts in textiles, apparel, and footwear.  

Additions and improvements have been made to the ZDHC MRSL. Limit values of ZDHC MRSL V1.1 were not in scope for this release. These will, however, be covered in the next review round.

"The ZDHC MRSL V1.1 was released with the vision that it would be updated as new information becomes available on chemical substances used in this industry. Together with our Contributors, a list of proposed substances was created over the past few years. This list was reviewed by a group of independent experts via the MRSL Update Principles andProcedures. The release of ZDHC MRSL V2.0 is a milestone. It marks the first update where experts from the independent MRSL Advisory Council decided additions to the list.”
Scott Echols, ZDHC Programme Director

 “We believe the updated version of the ZDHC MRSL will contribute significantly to reducing the use of harmful chemicals in apparel and footwear. Above all, the ZDHC MRSL process ensures that chemical management remains a live debate – the channel is always open for any stakeholder to provide objective scientific evidence to support a request for chemical restrictions to be added to the ZDHC MRSL.”
Phil Patterson, Chair of the MRSL Advisory Council

A Transparent Process

The independent MRSL Advisory Council (MAC) developed a transparent process for the objective evaluation of chemical substances. Final decisions on substances to be added and their limit values were made by the MAC, boosting the objectivity of updates to the ZDHC MRSL.

 “TEGEWA appreciates the transparent process that led to the new ZDHC MRSL. In the MAC, TEGEWA, alongside ETAD, speaks for the chemical industry via one of six votes. During our decision making process all our conversations were collegial, trustful and importantly science-base, despite the different sectors MAC representatives come from. Most decisions on chemical substances being added and their limits were taken unanimously, or by a large majority vote. In some cases, we could not persuade our partners in the MAC. Where we could do so, it helps to alleviate the workload for chemical suppliers in achieving future limits.” 
Volker Schroeder, TEGEWA

The Changes

Additional Chemicals

Many problematic chemical substances have been added to the list of restricted substances, including restrictions for new substrates: rubber, foams and adhesives. Efforts have been made to align with the industry and cover more ‘hazardous’ substances. 

New Chapters

Two new chapters have been added to version 2.0.This increases the scope of the ZDHC MRSL, while helping the industry to prepare for future restricted chemicals.

1.  ZDHC MRSL Candidate List

It can be the case that a chemical substance meets the criteria to be listed on the ZDHC MRSL, but safer alternatives are not yet available at scale. Where this is the case, the ZDHC MRSL Candidate List supports the industry by offering visibility over potential future restricted substances, giving important time to innovate and prepare in advance. 

 “ZDHC proves to be an organisation, with ambitious goals. We acknowledge the huge effort it takes to identify intentionally used substances, and we appreciate the intent that candidate substances will be reviewed in the ZDHC MRSL 3.0. We look forward to continuing this productive cooperation in the coming months and years”
Volker Schroeder, TEGEWA

2.  Archived substances

Archived substances are those which have previously been used in the industry, and are no longer in use. These substances have also been added to version 2.0. 

 “In addition to adding many problematic chemical substances onto the second version of the ZDHC MRSL, the independent MRSL Advisory Council, which I have the privilege to chair, has developed a clear, transparent process for the objective evaluation of chemical substances. The result is a clear set of standards where the main ZDHC MRSL is relevant to industry needs, but where we have a mechanism for signalling future restrictions and a way of ensuring that harmful chemicals, which have fallen out of use, cannot make an unwelcome return.” 
Phil Patterson, Chair of the MRSL Advisory Council

Transition Period

As with the introduction of any updated guideline, a transition period has been provided to put the latest version into action. The chemical industry will have a transition period of 12 months to implement ZDHC MRSL V2.0. 

 “During the ZDHC MRSL V2.0 update process, we were able to discuss the impact of such an update for facilities. As all the relevant steps have been considered by ZDHC, we feel confident the industry can adopt the ZDHC MRSLV 2.0. The alignment between the different stakeholders should enable the industry to implement it faster than before.”
Abhishek Bansal, Arvind


The ZDHC MRSL is a living document, which is now further updated and enhance to the needs of its users. Version 2.0 strengthens capacity to support the transformation of the industry.