Clothing giants slammed for use of ‘hazardous’ chemicals

Major clothing brands have been named and shamed in a new report which reveals that hazardous chemical residues in textiles are being released into public waterways.


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Adidas, Calvin Klein, Converse, H&M and Ralph Lauren are among those listed in the Greenpeace report as using harmful chemicals in their materials, which when washed by consumers enter rivers, lakes and seas.

The release of the ‘Dirty Laundry: Reloaded‘ report coincides with World Water Day (March 22), aims to raise awareness of the potential impact clothing producers are having on water quality and safety.

As part of the study, measurements were taken to record the percentage of hazardous chemicals, known as nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) entering water supplies after the item was domestically washed. It concluded that the chemicals breakdown into toxic and potentially hormone-disrupting substances.

Ralph Lauren and H&M were found to be the worst offenders, with
94% of NPE’s coming out in the wash. This was closely followed by Adidas
at 90% and Abercrombie & Fitch at 88%. Kappa received the lowest
percentage score at 9%.

Greenpeace warned that the results show that consumers of these brands are unknowingly polluting the public water supplies in regions and countries around the world, including those where there are restrictions or bans on the use of these chemicals.

Greenpeace international toxics campaigner Marietta Harjono said: “While international organisations and research groups show their concerns over the future of water quality and water access, the textile industry is still polluting. It’s time the sector moved to safe alternatives to these chemicals.

“This study proves that the textile industry is creating water pollution all around the globe. While the discharges of toxic chemicals from the manufacturing process is focused where the textile are produced, the washing of the clothes and the pollution which follows are happening anywhere in the world these products are bought.”

As a result, Greenpeace is calling on brands to take action to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020 as part of the ‘Detox’ commitment.

Carys Matthews

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