ZDHCs Chemical Gateway will launch next year

ZDHC's Chemical Gateway will launch next year

The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation has formally signed a collaboration agreement with the China National Textile & Apparel Council (CNTAC), deepening a commitment announced earlier this year.

The partnership between the two groups will enable the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme, which is working to eliminate hazardous chemicals from the global textile and footwear supply chain, to expand its scope in China.

While CNTAC, the industry federation representing all textile-related industries in China, will gain chemical management expertise and guidance to achieve the goals of its Chemicals Stewardship Initiative 2020 to improve chemical management across the textile value chain.

"We believe ZDHC is an important force in sustainable development and hope that together, we can work to eliminate hazardous chemicals within the value chain," said Sun Ruizhe, CNTAC president. 

China textile sector takes steps to manage chemicals

The signing at the joint ZDHC-CNTAC conference earlier this month in Shanghai also saw the apparel industry urged to take a more innovative approach to cleaning up the supply chain, instead of simply publishing a "ban list." 

Reflecting on the group's journey, which started in 2011 with six brands and has since grown to over 40 signatory brands, ZDHC executive director Frank Michel said: "This industry has experienced dramatic change and responsible chemical management is a core pillar of sustainability," he said.

One of ZDHC's key tools is its Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL), a list of chemical substances banned from intentional use in facilities that process textile materials and trim parts in apparel and footwear.

Although ZDHC's goal is for the entire industry to adopt this standard, Michel explained: "We know that to really encourage the textile and footwear industry to comply to this standard, we have to take a more innovative approach than simply publishing a 'ban' list."

The event also showcased ZDHC's recently developed Chemical Gateway, an online portal to help firms select compliant textile chemicals, which is set to launch in early 2017 and is poised to become world's largest database of safer chemistry for the industry.

China event to reveal new ZDHC Chemical Gateway

Frank Henke, vice president of social and environmental affairs for Adidas, and Charles Dickinson, environmental sustainability controller for Primark, were both at the event and offered a brand perspective on expectations of suppliers within the value chain.

Both emphasised that brands expect suppliers to commit to the same environmental standards, and to be fully aware of their obligations.

"We believe in shared responsibility," said Dickinson. "For us, this means we also expect our suppliers to adhere to the ZDHC MRSL. Why? Because by doing so, we can be assured that the wastewater is cleaner, the air quality standard improved, and that health and safety of workers protected."

Both brands issued a strong call to action: if businesses want to survive, they have to be fit for the future. For Dickinson that means its necessary for the textile and footwear sector to go well beyond legislation. "Simply adhering to minimum legal standards is not good enough," he said.