Washington—Limited Brands, parent to Victoria’s Secret, and the Benetton Group are the latest major fashion retailers and manufacturers to sign onto Greenpeace International’s Detox campaign that seeks to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals from fashion products.
According to a 2012 study by Greenpeace, a leading independent organization that exposes environmental problems around the world, high levels of a hormone-disrupting phthalate were discovered in Victoria’s Secret underwear—at levels high enough that it would have been banned by the European Union had it been a toy.
Greenpeace said Limited Brands agreed to stop using phthalates and perfluorinated chemicals in its apparel before 2020. The company also will publish pollution data this year from 80% of its supply chain.
“Limited Brands has the chance to move from toxic villain to ‘Detox angel’ with its commitment to completely eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chains and products. The onus is now on the company to follow up on its ambitious statement and quickly turn words into action,” said Marietta Harjono, Detox campaigner at Greenpeace.
Last week, Benetton, which owns Sisley, Playlife and United Color of Benetton, agreed to join the Detox campaign. That agreement follows one by Uniqlo, which has also agreed to ban all toxic chemicals throughout its global supply chain and products by 2020, Greenpeace cited.
Zara, Mango, Esprit and Levi’s Also Aim to be Toxic-Free
That follows Zara, Mango, Esprit and Levi’s which announced similar individual commitments in December. According to Greenpeace, Levi’s will require its largest suppliers with multiple facilities in China, Mexico and other locations to disclose pollution data by June 2013.
The Detox campaign was begun in July 2011 after a Greenpeace investigation uncovered that many textile suppliers to companies such as Levi’s, Zara and other major brands were dumping a wide range of hazardous chemicals into China’s wastewater systems.
The denim maker’s commitment came just days after a Greenpeace investigation found textile suppliers for Levi’s, Zara and many other global clothing brands likely dump a wide range of hazardous chemicals into China’s wastewater systems. Follow-up investigations uncovered chemicals in clothing items bearing the labels of 14 international brands, which break down in water to form these same toxic, hormone-disrupting chemicals that pose a serious threat to human health and the environment.
“Limited Brands considers clean water as a critical global issue, and is proud to join Greenpeace in its campaign to eliminate hazardous chemical use,” said Sam Fried, executive vice president for Law, Policy & Governance at Limited Brands.
Greenpeace is calling on all apparel companies to champion a toxic-free future and to work with all of their suppliers to eliminate the release of hazardous chemicals from across their supply chain and products.
While the Greenpeace tests tracked only jeans, trousers, T-shirts, dresses and underwear made for women, men and children, but many of the hazardous chemicals are added to both artificial and natural fibers by textile companies before or during manufacturing many types of fashion.