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6th June 2018, Herisau

Textile dye companies call for harmonised approach

The signatories are textile dye and chemical companies that evidenced their support for, and investment in, sustainability advancement initiatives.A number of textile dye and chemical companies have signed an open letter to the Stichting ZDHC Foundation, formed in 2014, discussing their concerns with the increasing complexity and resultant cost burdens for the textiles value chain, which are proving an obstacle to the overall goals of the elimination of hazardous chemistry from within the textiles supply chain.

The companies – Archroma, Colourtex, DyStar, Huntsman, Jay Chemical, Protex, Pulcra, Rudolf, and Tanatex – addressed a list of principles and expectations to the ZDHC Foundation, which they acknowledge to be “the most appropriate platform for the industry to progress towards a more harmonised approach”.

In the letter, the signatories say that a number of concerns need to be addressed before the companies can become Value Chain Affiliates of the ZDHC. If a common understanding regarding the list can be achieved, the companies propose to join the foundation on 1 September on a trial basis for a period of 12 months, followed by a progress review, made by ZDHC towards driving the necessary change and harmonisation of the industry towards the objective of “zero discharge of hazardous chemicals”, before committing to a long-term partnership.

“All agreed that the way forward would be to align behind one industry standard, based upon achievable limits resulting from best chemical manufacturing techniques, as this would accelerate implementation, and avoid complexity and confusion for textile mills and their suppliers. It would also be the most cost-effective approach for the textiles value chain,” the letter says.

Commitment to sustainability

The signatories are textile dye and chemical companies that evidenced their support for, and investment in, sustainability advancement initiatives, both in the outerwear and fast-fashion sectors. These companies have, for many years, acted in a responsible manner towards the manufacturing of commercial technical grade textile dyes and chemicals. “This has been possible because of the high importance placed upon manufacturing process innovation, product stewardship and quality management,” the letter continues.

“This importance is evidenced by the degree of investment that the companies have made in resources to support and advance these functions within their respective organizations. In addition to this, the signatories include leading companies which have a proven track record in the replacement of hazardous chemistry from manufacturing processes with more benign substitutes, as a result of various research and development programs. The initiation of these is often as a result of the identification of potential future changes in the hazardous classification of substances.”

“It is our intention to strongly support any initiative that aims to eliminate hazardous chemicals from within the textiles supply chain.”

More recognition

“When the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) collaborative initiative started in 2011, as a result of external pressure placed upon the Brands by NGO’s, a number of the group chemical companies were approached to become actively involved with ZDHC. The main purpose would be to technically advise and work with the ZDHC towards the setting up of a roadmap towards the elimination of hazardous chemicals; the development of a universal standard for commercial textile dye and chemical formulations and the resultant communication and implementation within the textiles supply chain,” the letter says.

“It is our intention to work towards a greater harmonisation of an industry standard and challenge the proliferation of standards and approaches which the industry is now facing which, through complexity, duplication, and misunderstanding, hinder the elimination of hazardous chemicals from within the supply chain.”

“With the formation of a separate Stichting ZDHC Foundation in 2014, the funding of the collaboration changed to a multi-stakeholder approach as a number of external activities increased and additional resources were required. Previously the initiative’s internal activities had been primarily organized and funded by the ZDHC member Brands (for whom the risk remains highest as they are held accountable by the NGO’s). To that end, chemical companies have been approached to participate with monetary contributions for ZDHC Foundation.”

“It is our intention that the ZDHC Foundation give more recognition to those industry players who continue to demonstrate competence and a serious commitment to the sustainability agenda, thus giving further motivation for the industry to improve.”

Concerns

“It is imperative that the ZDHC Gateway – Chemical Module motivates textile dye and chemical suppliers to move products up the levels of the “pyramid”; as well as for brands to understand and appreciate the true value of the more holistic approach of ‘Level 3’ partners – Responsible Care, Product Stewardship Program, etc. Our expectation is that a mechanism is in place to ensure this continual improvement process,” the letter says.

The companies have also expressed a concern regarding additional financial burdens being placed on the industry by brands who seek to differentiate their offering on the basis of an additional modified “individualised” Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL). “Our expectation is that safeguards are in place to prevent this risk of a proliferation of MRSL standards,” the letter continues.

The signatories also acknowledged that in order for the ZDHC to function efficiently, a mechanism must be in place to ensure that funds are available. “One could argue that just as the brand has a prime duty to ensure that a consumer product does not present any risk to the public health, it is also the responsibility of the wet processor to ensure that the environment is not polluted during the manufacture of textiles. This principle of shared responsibility should also be represented within the ZDHC Foundation.”

Read the open letter

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