Another call has been made to end the sandblasting of jeans

Another call has been made to end the sandblasting of jeans

Supermarket retailer Asda today (21 March) confirmed to just-style it is phasing out the use of sandblasting on products sold under its George fashion brand - as a new report again highlights the dangers the process poses to workers' health.

"As part of Walmart's global commitment, we are already in the process of phasing out sandblasted products and it is our intention that there will be none on sale in our stores by the end of this year," a spokesperson said.

"This will mean that by the end of October, the sandblasting process will no longer be used in the production of George products. That's a significant commitment, and one we're proud to put our name to."

Asda's comments come as it was criticised by the pressure group Labour Behind the Label for failing to engage in dialogue on the use of this finishing process in its supply chains.

In a new report called 'Killer Jeans,' which is published today, Labour Behind the Label claims tens of thousands of people working in the jeans industry are at risk of dying from the fatal lung disease silicosis which is contracted when they inhale the sand which is blasted at denim to give it a distressed look.

Workers in Bangladesh, China, Mexico and Egypt are most at risk, it says.

"The trend for Killer Jeans must be phased out by companies and rejected by consumers," said Sam Maher, the report's author.

She adds: "Actions taken by companies alone will not be enough to cover the entire sector. We encourage governments to look into a possible importation ban for these jeans."

Campaigners in Turkey are also seeking compensation for workers who have been affected by the practice.

"We want these brands to take up responsibility for the damage done, and ensure that proper medical care and compensations are given to the victims of jeans sandblasting," explains Dr Yesim Yasin of the Turkish Solidarity Committee.

Jeans brand Levi-Strauss and fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) are among those who have already made public statements in the last six months announcing that they will stop selling sandblasted jeans.

And last month representatives from 15 apparel brands and retailers agreed to work towards a total ban on the process as part of action led by the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF).

The Asda spokesperson said the supermarket was one of only four UK-based retailers to attend this meeting.

Labour Behind the Label has also joined international calls to demand that all jeans brands stop selling sandblasted products with immediate effect, and take responsibility for workers by performing medical checks and providing compensation.