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April 14, 2020

Carter’s moves to limit toxic chemicals in its supply chain

US baby clothes retailer Carter’s is taking steps to limit toxic chemicals in its supply chain, but is under pressure from environmental activists to do more to protect workers and the environment.

US baby clothes retailer Carter’s is taking steps to limit toxic chemicals in its supply chain, but is under pressure from environmental activists to do more to protect workers and the environment.

Following pressure from Green America last year, Carter’s has released a restricted substances list (RSL) disclosing information about energy usage and waste reduction, and providing greater transparency about efforts to protect human rights within its supply chain.

However, campaigners are calling on it to release a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL), which would go a step further than a RSL (which only protects consumers) by limiting harmful chemicals that workers and their communities are exposed to in the manufacturing process.

“A public RSL is a good first step, but without an MRSL, it is a partial solution at best,” says Charlotte Tate, manager of Labor Justice Campaigns at Green America.

“Carter’s must now also prioritise the health of workers in its supply chain and limit their exposure to harmful chemicals through a MRSL.”

“Major industry players are often not transparent about what chemicals are used, and we do not have sufficient understanding of the impacts of the thousands of chemicals used on human and environmental health,” adds Todd Larsen, executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement at Green America. 

“In recent years, Carter’s has disclosed using harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, arsenic and arsenic compounds, and cadmium, and that’s why it is good to see Carter’s taking steps to start protecting the children who wear the company’s clothes.” 

Carter’s also committed to supporting suppliers in obtaining Oeko-Tex certification to limit chemical usage in raw materials and has sourced more organic cotton then in previous years.

Over 8,000 chemicals are used in textile manufacturing, Green America says, adding that an estimated 20% of industrial water pollution is attributed to the textile manufacturing industry. Textile production uses an estimated 43m tons of chemicals every year, not including the pesticides used to grow natural resources such as cotton.

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