• The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation has expanded its Roadmap to Zero Programme to man-made cellulosic fibre production.

The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation has expanded its Roadmap to Zero Programme to man-made cellulosic fibre production as part of its efforts to establish itself as the holistic approach to sustainable chemical management in the textile and apparel industry value chain.

The ZDHC Programme aims to drive the global textile, apparel and footwear industries (including leather) towards the use of more sustainable chemistry. Its approach focuses on chemical inputs and the backbone of the Programme is based on the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL); a list of chemical substances banned from intentional use in facilities that process textiles, leather and trim parts in apparel and footwear.

Over the past years, the collaborative efforts of the ZDHC Programme have largely focused on driving chemical management best practices and related innovations in the dyeing and finishing of textile, apparel, leather and footwear. Given the importance of fibre production not only in terms of environmental impact but also for circularity of the industry, ZDHC says it is a "logical step" for the organisation to expand its content scope to include raw material production.

With the global viscose production continuing and projected to grow, the collective action of ZDHC will start with man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCF including viscose, modal and lyocell) and expand to further materials in the future.

Man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCF) are produced from natural feedstock, such as wood and plants, using hazardous chemicals. Within the production process of viscose and modal, the chemicals react with the cellulose and create by-products that might be released into air, water and soil, in case the production process is not an integrated (closed loop) process.

In March, ZDHC hosted the first multi-stakeholder MMCF roundtable with 80% of the global MMCF production attending, including Birla Cellulose, Lenzing Group and the Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose. Several ZDHC Signatory Brands as well as Canopy, Textile Exchange, bluesign and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles also attended the event.

The roundtable confirmed that the need to develop a clear framework of guidelines for wastewater, sludge, waste and air emissions specific to MMCF production, that maps holistically into the ZDHC toolset, is a key priority for ZDHC. The discussions also confirmed that well-defined expectations for process by-product recovery to address closed loop commitments are needed.

The guidelines will, for now, focus on the production of MMCF, while the dissolving pulp production process will be considered at a later stage. The first draft of the guidelines is expected at the end of 2018, with pilots foreseen in early 2019. The recently released public disclosure portal of ZDHC will offer brands, retailers and their fibre production partners a recognised platform to demonstrate continuous improvements and environmental performance in a transparent and meaningful way.

ZDHC is collaborating with Canopy for the MMCF initiative.

The group recently released an online tool designed to help brands and facilities identify gaps and drive performance in meeting the requirements of its wastewater guidelines.