Zara Bows to Greenpeace, Commits to Zero Chemical Discharge

by | Dec 3, 2012

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Zara, one of the world’s largest clothing retailers, says it will eliminate all discharge of hazardous chemicals from its supply chain and products by 2020, following a Greenpeace campaign pressuring the brand to end use of toxic chemicals in its products.

The commitment covers Zara and seven other brands under parent company Inditex Group, including Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe, Greenpeace said.

Inditex also will begin disclosing discharges of hazardous chemicals in its supply chain at the individual facility level, the company said. Inditex said it will begin by disclosing information on at least 10 Chinese suppliers and another supplier’s facilities by the end of March 2013.

The pledge follows a Greenpeace report, which named and criticized Zara and Inditex Group for the high levels of toxic chemicals found in their products. Zara came under intense pressure from the environmental activist group as well as customers since the report was released, according to Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace study “Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch Up,” released last month, found high levels of toxic phthalates, cancer-causing amines and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in clothing made by Zara, Calvin Klein, Benetton, Giorgio Armani, the Gap and 15 other global brands.

While all of the brands, which included Victoria Secret, H&M, Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger, had several items containing NPEs, Zara was the only retailer with items that had both NPEs and toxic amines.

Greenpeace has called on major international clothing brands, consumers and, ultimately, regulators to ban NPEs and its broader chemical family alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) in manufacturing and products, and enforce the ban globally.

Adidas, H&M, Ralph Lauren and Nike were criticized earlier this year in a Greenpeace report on chemicals found in clothing. The report, released in March, found clothing the group tested discharged a significant amount of hazardous chemicals into water systems when washed by customers.

Greenpeace’s first report on chemicals in clothing, which was released in July 2011, focused on the Youngor Group, China’s biggest integrated textile firm, which the environmental group said was polluting rivers. Greenpeace’s investigations linked the group to a number of major international brands including Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Converse, H&M, Lacoste, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation and Puma.

Puma was the first sportswear company to align itself with Greenpeace’s campaign pledging to eliminate all hazardous chemicals across its entire supply chain and the entire lifecycle of its products by 2020. By August, Nike followed suit, and in September Adidas become the third major sports brand to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain by 2020, under the Greenpeace pressure.

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