Gap Dumping Toxic Wastewater, Greenpeace Says


by | Apr 19, 2013

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GapGap, Brooks Brothers and other fashion brands are dumping toxic wastewater in Indonesia waterways, Greenpeace says.

In its latest report, Toxic Threads: Polluting Paradise, Greenpeace investigates the PT Gistex factory, located near Bandung in West Java, with 60 percent of production located in the Citarum River watershed. The facility does polyester weaving and wet processing for several fashion brands, Greenpeace says. The nonprofit collected samples of wastewater discharged from the PT Gistex facility and found toxic chemicals — including nonylphenol (NP), nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) and tributyl phosphate (TBP) — being pumped in the Citarum.

NPs and NPEs are highly toxic to aquatic organisms, the EPA says. Once released into the water system, NPEs degrade to NP, which is bioaccumulative and can act as a hormone disruptor, according to the agency. TBP is also toxic to aquatic life.

Brooks Brothers has acknowledged a business relationship with parts of PT Gistex Group, the report says. Greenpeace says is has urged the company to sign on to its Detox Fashion campaign and eliminate hazardous chemicals from its supply chains and products.

Gap Inc., which owns Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, did not respond to Greenpeace’s request for comment in time to be included in the report, Greenpeace says. Gap also did not respond to an Environmental Leader inquiry asking if the company has a business relationship with PT Gistex Group.

Greenpeace says Gap eventually responded in an April 10 email and denied sourcing from PT Gistex Textile Division but confirmed a business relationship with PT Gistex Group.

The report also prompted a Twitter war between the two groups with Gap tweeting “@greenpeaceusa Reducing environmental impact is important to Gap, and we work on this issue at the laundry, mill and manufacturing levels.”

Greenpeace tweeted back “@Gap Then why are you helping to pollute paradise?”

While Gap and other global brands including Calvin Klein have repeatedly refused to sign on to the Detox campaign, pressure from Greenpeace has secured commitments from other clothing companies including Victoria’s Secret parent company Limited Brands and the Benetton Group to stop using toxic chemicals in their products.

Zara, Mango, Esprit and Levi’s have also announced similar commitments. According to Greenpeace, Levi’s will require its largest suppliers with multiple facilities in China, Mexico and other locations to disclose pollution data by the end of June.

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