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Brands urged to cut out toxins from clothes

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Campaigner Q&A - Greenpeace wants brands to eliminate the use of PFCs when making clothes - and setting 2020 targets is not ambitious enough, says Mirjam Kopp, project leader of the Detox Outdoor campaign.

Taken from Innovation Forum's new Supply Chain Risk & Innovation publication, published ten times a year on a subscription basis. The publication brings together concise, practical insight into global supply chains.

Required reading for senior management, buyers, business sustainability professionals and all who advise them, Supply Chain Risk & Innovation distils all the myriad information, data, research and comment, presented it in a clear, analytical format.

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Brands urged to cut out toxins from clothes

  1. 1. PAGE 18 It’smuchbettertoswitchtotoxic-freeproduction. Ultimately, you are calling for outdoor brands to eliminate the use of PFCs. How can they work with suppliers to do this? This is certainly a challenge. One difficulty is transparency. We are asking brands to work with their suppliers to publish discharge data from their factories. This is an important first step. From the work we’ve done on our Detox Fashion campaign, we have seen that it’s possible; we have more than 30 brands who are implementing a Detox commitment and part of this is to publish discharge data. It’s also important to ensure that the criteria brands are asking of their suppliers is being implemented. This means not only testing the discharge water, but also the formulations of the chemicals being used and the product itself. The Detox Fashion campaign has been running since 2011. Now you are taking it outdoors, challenging outdoor clothing brands to eliminate toxic chemicals from their supply chains. What chemicals are we talking about, and why the urgency? Themainchallengefortheoutdoorsectorin termsoftoxicchemicaluseisagroupcalled PFCs–per-andpolyfluorinatedchemicals. Theyareverypersistentchemicals–once theyarereleasedintotheenvironment,they takealongtimetodegrade.Someofthemare bioaccumulative,theyaccumulateinthefood chaincausingallsortsofadversehealtheffects. PFC contamination is highest during the manufacturing process, when the compounds are released to the environment. Can factories take any measures here to contain their release? The problem is that these PFCs can’t be completely removed even with the most modern wastewater treatment plants. You really have to eliminate them from the production process. Once they are in the environment, it’s difficult to deal with them. Wedon’tthinkit’sagoodideatousehazardous chemicals,andthentryandmitigatethedamage. Some brands have set elimination dates for the use of PFCs in their products by 2020. This is positive, isn’t it? It’s a good first step in the right direction. Most of the major brands are saying they want to eliminate PFCs at some stage in the future, but they haven’t set a timeline. However, the urgency of the situation requires action right now – we think 2020 is not ambitious enough, especially considering there are PFC-free alternatives already on the market. Others argue that PFC-free alternatives just aren’t good enough in terms of performance. We don’t agree. There are smaller brands out there using these alternatives and we have tested them ourselves. Some major brands claim these alternatives aren’t durable enough, but none of them have made reference to any studies showing this. We do agree durability is an important issue, but there are examples of smaller brands using PFC-free clothing in a closed loop recycling process. How do the cost-benefits of detoxing weigh against the risks of not doing so? A brand risks being associated with using hazardous chemicals for their products. It’s foreseeable that more PFC substances will be regulated by governments. If a brand is switching from long-chain to short-chain PFCs now, instead of switching to PFC-free alternatives, they risk having to switch again in a few years, when short-chain PFCs get regulated as well. It’s more cost-effective to do only one switch to PFC-free alternatives. ★ Essential insight • Accentuate the positive. NGO campaigns scrutinise, but the revelations help assess and manage supply chain risk. • Enforce policy through evidence gathering. Demand data and spot-check suppliers. • Be proactive, not reactive. Think first- mover advantage. It pays to be ahead of regulation. CAMPAIGNER Q+A Brandsurgedtocutouttoxinsfromclothes Greenpeace wants brands to eliminate the use of PFCs when making clothes – and setting 2020 targets is not ambitious enough, says Mirjam Kopp, project leader of the Detox Outdoor campaign Don't risk being associated with hazardous chemicals in your products. now implementing a Detox commitment 30BRANDS Greenpeace wants brands to work with suppliers to publish discharge data from their factories PAGE 18 NGOS AND CAMPAIGNSSUPPLY CHAIN RISK & INNOVATION

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