Fast fashion retail giant H&M has become the latest company to win praise from environmental pressure group Greenpeace for pledging to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain.

The world's second biggest clothing retailer, now joins Nike, Adidas and Puma as major international brands that have promised to commit to a toxic-free future in response to pressure from activists.

"H&M's landmark commitment has the potential to be a catalyst for wider change across the fashion industry," believes Marietta Harjono, toxic campaigner at Greenpeace International.

"Other big brands who have yet to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals risk losing the trust of their customers, and future business opportunities in key markets such as China, if they continue their polluting practices."

The "Detox" campaign follows Greenpeace investigations that revealed links between major fashion brands, including H&M, and factories that were found to be discharging a range of hazardous chemicals into rivers in China. 

Further research also revealed that branded clothing from 14 international companies, including H&M, contained nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) that break down into the toxic, persistent and hormone disrupting nonylphenol (NP).

As part of its commitment, H&M has agreed to public disclosure of all chemicals being released from its suppliers' factories, with the first data available by the end of 2012. It also plans to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals from all production processes associated with the manufacture of its products by 2020 at the latest.

"In countries such as China where we have hundreds of thousands of people living near factories, but not knowing what toxic and often invisible chemicals are being discharged into local water supplies, H&M's commitment to publicly disclose pollution information is the start of something truly important," said Yifang Li, toxic campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia.

"We will be following H&M's implementation closely and strongly encourage Chinese brands to follow this trend towards greater transparency, as people have a right to know this information," Li concluded.