Blog: Leonie BarrieGreen steps to offset sourcing risks

Leonie Barrie | 16 April 2012

Environmental groups are calling on 48 apparel brands and retailers including H&M, Nike, Wal-Mart, Levi's, Adidas, Gap and Marks & Spencer to make greener purchases after accusing them of sourcing clothing from suppliers who illegally discharge polluted water in China.

Chinese environmental campaigners also listed Tesco, Li Ning, Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and JC Penney among those who buy products from Chinese textile firms with illegal discharge records.

A report noted more than 6,000 environmental violations by Chinese textile enterprises, including secret discharge pipes, direct wastewater discharge, improper use of wastewater treatment facilities, and pollutant discharge amounts in breach of authorised standards.

Sportswear giant Nike, meanwhile, is asking the International Labour Organization (ILO) to investigate two recent mass fainting incidents at its Cambodian supplier Sabrina (Cambodia) Manufacturing. The ILO Better Factories Cambodia programme is currently looking into the causes of a spate of mass faintings in the country.

And fashion retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz has reiterated its commitment to buying 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources by 2020. The company confirmed the pledge in its 2011 sustainability report, which was released last week. The more sustainable cotton sources will include Better Cotton, organic cotton and recycled cotton.

The European Union (EU) is also helping Pakistan to support the development of a sustainable cotton supply chain from the farm to final product - including links with leading retailers and brands. The four-year scheme - which is called SPRING (sustainable cotton production in Pakistan ginning SMEs) - is being funded under the regional Switch Asia initiative, and will be implemented by WWF-Pakistan.

The Indian government is allowing the shipment of another 1.9m bales of cotton after reviewing applications that had already been registered before it introduced a ban on raw cotton exports last month. The registration certificates of around 1m bales have been revalidated for export, with another 0.9m bales due to be cleared by 17 April.

Meanwhile, cotton ending stocks in the US are forecast to decline to 3.4m bales, thanks to reduced production and "very strong" export shipments in recent weeks.

The complex array of risks and variables faced by the international apparel supply chain are detailed a new report from just-style. The report, 'Risk analysis of the apparel supply chain in 2012', was compiled after the supply chain was confronted with a "perfect storm" of cost elements in 2010 - but it warns that real-life scenarios are considerably more complex than a cursory analysis might suggest.


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