World March 19, 2015 | 12:57 pm

Greenpeace ranking reveals fashion companies’ action on toxic pollution

Beijing.– Greenpeace East Asia today released its Detox Catwalk, an online platform assessing how effectively major fashion brands are removing toxic chemicals from their supply chains and tackling water pollution. Inditex (which owns Zara), Puma and Valentino join 13 other Detox leaders in this year’s ranking, while sports brands Nike and LiNing are labelled Greenwashers for their failure to take credible action to Detox.

“The fashion companies that have committed to detox over the past four years of campaigning represent approximately 10% of the global apparel and footwear market. We believe this momentum is creating a new standard in sustainable fashion: opening up secretive supply chains and finally showing that beautiful clothes can be made without pollution,” said Detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, Yixiu Wu.

The Detox Catwalk assesses how committed companies have performed against key criteria, including how they are working to eliminate known hazardous chemicals from their products and manufacturing processes, and what steps they are taking towards having their suppliers’ publicly disclose pollution information.

"Increased supply chain transparency is good practice for sound chemical management, which will help decision makers draft and promote solid policies in China. Once companies are transparent, the public then has a chance to monitor what’s happening in the industry – they have a chance to take part in the risk management of chemicals. In fact, it promotes good governance of this issue," said Liu Jianguo, Associate Professor at the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Peking University.

The urgency to tackle water pollution is gaining momentum in countries such as China where almost half of the surface water is not drinkable and 64% of underground drinking water reserves in major cities are seriously polluted. China’s textile industry alone is responsible for 10% of the country’s industrial wastewater emission.

“This year’s Detox Catwalk shows that 16 fashion companies have started eliminating some of the most widely used toxic chemicals, including hormone disruptors such as nonylphenols, phthalates, and PFCs. They have also started releasing the pollution data of their suppliers to an independent online platform, all of which is ground-breaking and leaves companies like Nike far behind,” said Wu.

This corporate action has sparked policy change in manufacturing countries such as China, where harmful chemicals such as PFCs, nonylphenols and phthalates have been included for regulation on the 12th Five-Year Plan for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Risk of Chemicals.

The Greenpeace Detox campaign demands fashion brands to commit to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 and require their suppliers to disclose the releases of toxic chemicals from their facilities to communities at the site of the water pollution.

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