Inditex, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Benetton have been praised by environmental activist group Greenpeace for being on track to clean up their chains, while Victoria's Secret, Esprit and sports brands Nike and LiNing are lagging behind the field.

The appraisal follows yesterday's (5 July) release of Greenpeace's third "Detox Catwalk" – an online platform designed to assess 19 fashion brands' records on removing toxic chemicals from their supply chains.

The Detox Catwalk is part of the wider Greenpeace Detox campaign pushing fashion brands and retailers to commit to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020. It also requires their suppliers to disclose the releases of toxic chemicals from their facilities to communities at the site of the water pollution.

Inditex, owner of the Zara fashion brand, H&M and Benetton were named as the only "Avant-Garde" companies on track to clean up their chains as promised by 2020.

"We applaud H&M, Zara and Benetton for leading the way and setting a new standard in toxic free fashion," says Kirsten Brodde, head of the Detox My Fashion campaign at Greenpeace Germany. "These companies prove that cleaning up the fashion industry is possible – both for large and medium-sized companies."

But Greenpeace adds the industry is still not doing enough, criticising Victoria's Secret, Esprit, Nike and LiNing who it says are failing to take the necessary steps towards the goal.

"Our assessment shows that the textile industry as a whole is not doing enough to go toxic-free," adds Brodde. "16 out of the 19 brands assessed are stumbling over transparency issues or failing to eliminate toxic chemicals; with only three years left they must speed up now if they're to meet their 2020 deadlines."

While Victoria's Secret, Esprit, Nike and LiNing scored in the lowest "Faux Pas" category, another 12 Detox committed brands find themselves in the middle "Evolution Mode" category. These include Adidas, Burberry, Levi's, Primark and Puma, who are accused of not banning enough hazardous chemicals and relying on the "flawed" chemical list from the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group.

Greenpeace claims this list is missing important substances like PFCs and solvents like dimethylformamide (DMF).

Meanwhile, companies like C&A, Fast Retailing, G-Star, Mango and Miroglio scored higher within the same "Evolution Mode" group, either for better chemicals management or greater supply chain transparency.

Despite the critique, Brodde claims a major step forward this year is a commitment to transparent supply chains. "Companies are publishing complete suppliers' lists, which shows a trend for long-term relationships with suppliers networks, built on mutual trust," she adds. "That is crucial for implementing the Detox programme."

The urgency to tackle water pollution is gaining momentum in countries such as China where according to an analysis published by the Chinese Water Resources Ministry this year, four-fifths of China's water from wells is not safe because of pollution and more than 80% of underground water is unsafe for drinking.

The country's textile industry is one of the largest industrial water polluters in the country.

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.

Greenpeace says the corporate action has sparked policy change in manufacturing countries such as China, where harmful chemicals used in the textile sector such as PFCs, nonylphenols and phthalates have been included for regulation on the 12th Five-Year Plan for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Risk of Chemicals.