US: Zero discharge initiative "should include suppliers"
Plans by six apparel and footwear brands and retailers to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020 have been widely praised by a group of stakeholders - but are aiming for a challenging deadline and should have been expanded to include suppliers, they say.
The feedback on the joint roadmap to zero toxic discharge outlined by Adidas Group, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike Inc and Puma in November last year was requested by the firms to help strengthen their goal.
SustainAbility Inc canvassed the views of academics, chemical companies, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), apparel brands and regulatory agencies, and found "near unanimous praise" for the commitment.
But the stakeholders also believe that the six brands alone won't be sufficient to achieve zero discharge.
Indeed, many felt the brands should have gone further, particularly with suppliers, whose engagement is key to realising the goal. Not only are they likely to face additional costs from the initiative, but if they do make investments, will they be rewarded with preferred status or longer-term relationships?
Many also consider the timeline is unrealistic - and that eight years is not enough to change buyer and supplier practices, develop suitable chemical alternatives, impose and/or change regulatory structures.
They also noted that the industry's business model - which outsources manufacturing to a large, fragmented and distant supplier base - may need to undergo a fundamental shift if zero discharge is to be achieved.
Other comments noted that robust regulatory frameworks and enforcement are critical to the effort, especially in regions like Asia. And a number of questions were raised on principles and definitions, including the practicality of carrying out measurements across the thousands of facilities in the brands' supply chains.
The brands should also consider expanding the scope of their pilot projects to include "more challenging" scenarios, such as suppliers that do not have wet processes in house but rather contract out those processes.
Supplier disclosure is set to be another vexing issue for the brands, especially the prospects of facility-by-facility disclosure, a comprehensive list of chemicals used in textile manufacturing, and convincing chemical companies to disclose their formulations.
There will also need to be investment in "infrastructure" on the ground in manufacturing countries, including pollution control technology, testing labs, and supplier knowledge.
The stakeholders also want to see a positive vision from the brands as to what the apparel and footwear manufacturing industry will look like in 2020 as a result of this effort. Will the supply chain be shorter and less fragmented? Will full life cycle costs be considered? And what are the sustainability benefits of getting to zero?
Adidas's sponsorship strategy is paying dividends, with the sportswear brand's chief executive Herbert Hainer highlighting the success of its sponsorship of the London Olympics and the Euro 2012 footb...
Featured reports from just-style's research store this week include the prospects for India's texile and clothing industry, a look at footwear in Malaysia and SWOT analyses on Billabong and Gap Inc....
Swedish fashion retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz has revealed it will open its first store in Latvia next month....
Teen-apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has lowered its full-year earnings target after posting a fall in second quarter comparable store sales, amid the challenging macroeconomic environment....
Having successfully repositioned its Arrow brand in existing European markets and introduced it to new territories over the past few years, apparel maker PVH Corp is now expanding the label further af...
Administrators acting for value clothing chain Ethel Austin have sold 32 stores to Ricli less than two weeks after it collapsed into administration, safeguarding nearly 200 jobs....
Christopher & Banks shareholder Aria Partners has criticised the US women's wear retailer for searching for a new CEO even though it posted improved financial results last week....
Clothing and footwear firms including Nike, Marks & Spencer, Levi Strauss and Walmart are among those backing a new tool designed to measure sustainability and environmental impact across the industry...
- Supply chain weighs on Kering's green footprint
- What Marks & Spencer's numbers mean for clothing
- Software solutions enhance speed and visibility
- Where next for 3D design and prototyping?
- Tanzania adds to Africa’s apparel sourcing mix
- Gap brand sales continue to fall short
- American Eagle Outfitters Q1 earnings soar
- Apparel industry Q1 results in brief
- AGOA delays drag on sourcing decisions
- Call for probe into Philippines factory fire