US: Levi Strauss to phase out hazardous chemicals
Levi Strauss, the world's largest jeans manufacturer, has pledged to phase out hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020, following pressure from environmental group Greenpeace.
Levi Strauss will require its five largest suppliers in countries like China and Mexico to disclose pollution data by the end of June 2013. This will include the 11 priority chemical groups and detection limits in its supply chain - and means people living near these facilities will gain access to information about discharges into their local environment.
Before the end of December 2013, it will add at least another five Chinese suppliers, and all of their facilities, as well as an additional 20 suppliers from the global south.
This information will be publicised on Levi's public website and other platforms as soon as they are available.
And instead of using hazardous chemicals in the first place, Levi's says it will look for non-hazardous alternatives. This is a bold move away from its previous position, which was focused on managing rather than eliminating hazardous chemicals.
It also acknowledges the intrinsic hazards of APEOs (alkylphenol ethoxylate), which are used in water repellency treatments, and said eliminating them from the supply chain is a priority.
There are plans to enhance training and auditing of its supply chain in conjunction with other global brands, and ensure suppliers have the latest information on APEOs, highlighting where there is a risk they may enter the undocumented contamination of chemical supplier formulations.
Levi Strauss also intends to begin an investigation into APEO use, with findings reported by the end of April 2013, and strengthen supplier contract language to ensure only APEO-free formulations are used by the end of April. It will work with its supply chain and other industry leaders to ensure the most current technological detection limits are used.
The company has also committed to eliminating the use of all PFCs by 31 December 2015.
Greenpeace said the commitment will help the brand "live up to its claims of being a leader" - adding that brands such as Calvin Klein, Gap and Victoria's Secret have so far "failed to take responsibility for the pollution created along their entire supply chain".
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