Fashion retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz today (4 August) said it will ban the use of a chemical which creates water repellent effects as part of its efforts to reduce the use of hazardous substances.

The ban will mean that all orders after 1 January 2013 will be produced without Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). PFCs are used to make products water repellent and are mostly used on outwear garments, as well as shower curtains and tents.

PFCs are harmful for the environment, for reproduction and aquatic organisms, H&M said.

The retailer has been working since 1995 to reduce the use and impact of hazardous chemicals in its supply chain, adding that it carried out more than 30,000 chemical tests during 2011.

H&M is part of AFIRM, an international team of leading companies within the textile and footwear industries working to educate suppliers on how to achieve good chemical management.

H&M is also one of a group of leading brands and retailers - Adidas, C&A, Li Ning, Nike and Puma - who have agreed to work together to achieve the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in their supply chains by 2020.

In April, the fashion firm committed to buying all of its cotton from more sustainable sources by 2020. Sources will include Better Cotton, organic cotton and recycled cotton.