Which fashion companies are on track to detox?

Detox Catwalk Greenpeace
© Greenpeace

Greenpeace has released its Detox Catwalk report for 2016, revealing which companies are on track to meet detox commitments by 2020 and which are lagging far behind. The results may surprise you.

In 2011 Greenpeace launched a campaign called Detox Fashion. The group has been working hard to promote the campaign and urge major fashion brands and suppliers around the world to sign on, pledging to ‘detox’ their manufacturing processes by 2020. A ‘detox’ would mean elimination of the hazardous chemicals listed here.

Why is this process important?

toxic cycle of clothing production© Greenpeace

So far 70 fashion companies have signed, representing 15 percent of global textile production, which is a good start for transforming the second most polluting industry on Earth. This summer, Greenpeace checked back in with the companies to see how they’re doing, and whether or not they’re on track to detox fully in four years’ time. They call it the Detox Catwalk 2016, and the assessment is based on three categories:

1) Transparency – disclosure of information about suppliers and hazardous chemicals they discharge
2) PFC elimination – how they’re being substituted with safer alternatives
3) Detox 2020 plan – what proactive and preliminary system exists to ensure target is met

Results are surprising, with some fast-fashion chains leading the charge and others you may think are progressive lagging behind.

‘Avant-Garde’ companies are ahead of the curve and on track to meet their detox commitments. These companies have banned hazardous chemicals from their production, published wastewater data, and published lists of suppliers. These include Inditex (owner of Zara), H&M, and Benetton.

‘Evolution Mode’means the companies are committed to Detox and are making progress with implementation of goals, but need to hurry up to meet the 2020 target. These include C&A, Mango, Valentino, Adidas, Levis, Burberry, Puma, and Primark.

‘Faux Pas’ companies are failing to meet their commitments and currently heading in the wrong direction. These do not take responsibility for their supply chain’s hazardous chemical pollution. These include Nike (the only brand to fail completely in all three assessed categories), Esprit, Li-Ning, and Limited Brands (supplier for Victoria’s Secret).

‘Toxic Addicts’ is the category referring to companies that continually refuse to make a commitment to detox. These include Armani, Diesel, D&G, GAP, Hermes, Versace, and Bestseller, among many others.

Resistance to detox is still strong within the industry. Greenpeace describes a common reaction from companies: “It’s not feasible what Greenpeace wants us to do. No global fashion company can make their supply chains fully transparent and ban all toxic chemicals from all steps of production.”

And yet, as Kirsten Brodde, Detox campaign leader in Germany, points out, these companies have been proven wrong over and over again by fashionistas, models, activists, and bloggers around the world. Detox is possible, if companies make it a priority.

Responsibility lies with consumers, too, who need to speak out and demand improvements from favorite brands and retailers, while examining their own consumption habits and addiction to fast fashion.

Tags: Chemicals | Clothing | Greenpeace | Pollution

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