Greenpeaces Detox Catwalk is an online platform to assess progress on eliminating toxic chemicals from the supply chain

Greenpeace's Detox Catwalk is an online platform to assess progress on eliminating toxic chemicals from the supply chain

Greenpeace has launched its second “Detox Catwalk” – an online platform designed to assess fashion brands’ records on removing toxic chemicals from the supply chain.

The platform, from Greenpeace East Asia, also assesses the companies’ records on tackling water pollution, and has added Inditex, Puma and Valentino to 13 other “Detox leaders” in this year’s rankings.

But sports companies Nike and Li Ning have been labelled as “greenwashers” for their “failure to take credible action” on detoxing.

“The fashion companies that have committed to Detox over the past four years represent approximately 10% of the global apparel and footwear market,” said Yixiu Wu, detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

“We believe this momentum is creating a new standard in sustainable fashion: sparking a transparency revolution and proving that zero discharge of hazardous chemicals is within our reach by 2020.”

The Detox Catwalk’s criteria include how companies are working to eliminate known hazardous chemicals, including PFCs, nonylphenols and phthalates, from products and processes, as well as looking at what steps they are taking towards full supply chain transparency.

"Increased supply chain transparency is good practice for sound chemical management, which will help decision makers draft and promote solid policies in China," says Liu Jianguo, associate professor at the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Peking University.

"Once companies are transparent, the public then has a chance to monitor what's happening in the industry - they have a chance to take part in the risk management of chemicals. In fact, it promotes good governance of this issue."  

The four-year Detox campaign is changing the way companies are working with their suppliers and is starting to shift chemical regulations in manufacturing countries.

For instance: In China, harmful chemicals such as PFCs, nonylphenols and phthalates will start being regulated, following their inclusion in the 12th Five-Year Plan for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Risk of Chemicals.

In Indonesia, NPEs will be regulated and monitored with their addition to a list of hazardous and toxic materials. In the European Union, harmful chemical groups (including phthalates, PFCs and NPEs) are being added to a list of chemicals that the EU hopes to phase out and replace with substitutes.

The urgency to tackle water pollution is gaining momentum in countries such as China where almost half of the surface water is not drinkable and 64% of underground drinking water reserves in major cities are seriously polluted. China’s textile industry alone is responsible for 10% of the country’s industrial wastewater emission.

The Greenpeace Detox campaign demands fashion brands commit to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 and require their suppliers to disclose the releases of toxic chemicals from their facilities to communities at the site of the water pollution.

The full ranking of Detox leaders includes: Adidas, Benetton, Burberry, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, H&M, Inditex, Levi Strauss, Limited Brands, Mango, M&S, Primark, Puma, Fast Retailing and Valentino.

Nike and Li-Ning are accused of being ‘greenwashers’. And Giorgio Armani, Bestseller, Diesel, D&G, Gap, Hermes, LVMH, Metersbonwe, PVH, Vancl, and Versace all have the dubious honour of being labelled ‘Detox Losers’.