Blog: Sustainability moves gather momentum
Leonie Barrie | 29 October 2012
In the first of several sustainability initiatives revealed last week, UK clothing retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has pledged to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its entire textile and clothing supply chain by 2020, in a move that also paves the way for the development of new ways to produce its products.
The retailer has spent the past three months hammering out a new set of chemical commitments in conjunction with environmental pressure group Greenpeace, whose 'Detox' campaign last year prompted a number of leading apparel brands to invest in a toxic-free future. As part of its plans, M&S will phase out all Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) by 1 July 2016.
And US retail giant Wal-Mart has extended its sustainability goals with plans to buy 70% of the products it sells in its US Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores from suppliers who use its Sustainability Index to share the sustainability of their products. From 2013, Wal-Mart said it would use the index to influence the design of its US private brand products.
Also gaining momentum last week were efforts to create a private fund or insurance product that would provide support to garment workers affected by factory closures and non-payment of wages and benefits. The Global Forum for Sustainable Supply Chains convened a multi-stakeholder meeting driven by Adidas.
Meanwhile China's clothing and textile industry - already undermined by rising costs and competitors snapping at its heels - could be especially vulnerable to fallout from a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute brought by Mexico. The case claims Chinese government subsidies and tax-breaks for its textile and clothing sector break WTO agreements - and if a disputes settlement panel is set up to make a ruling, Beijing will be under pressure to end them.
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