24 Jan Do You Know What’s on Your Garments?
Following the publication by Greenpeace of their Dirty Laundry Reports, many brands and retailers are asking themselves the question: Do we really know what is on our garments? Of the six companies who have signed up to the Joint Roadmap towards zero discharge of hazardous substances from their supply chains by 2020 most have a pretty good idea as they have been implementing Restricted Substance Lists (RSLs) and carrying out chemical testing of garments for quite a few years. However, although these companies are high profile, large volume buyers of textiles they represent only the tip of the iceberg of all textiles traded worldwide.
We know that there are plenty of suppliers of dyes and chemicals out there who are themselves frighteningly ignorant of not only what their products contain but what their obligations might be to communicate the potential hazards of their products to their customers.
I recently saw the MSDS for two chemical preparations offered to a major textile manufacturer located in Bangladesh who supplies garments to high street stores in the UK. The MSDS gave no indication as to the chemical nature of the products and had no data on toxicity or ecotoxicity. In fact, the MSDS for the products were identical. So how is the customer meant to know how these products should be safely stored, handled and disposed of?
We are beginning to see brands and retailers taking a lot more interest in what chemical products are being used in their supply chains. But they are often hampered by a lack of transparency from their garment vendors as to who may be applying chemicals to their garments, how these chemicals are being applied and what in fact these chemicals are.
We recently did an exercise where we took samples of black-dyed polyester garments from some leading retailers and brands in Singapore and Frankfurt (conveniently close to our main offices in Europe and Asia). We tested them at our Texanlab analytical laboratory in Mumbai for the presence of chlorophenols and chlorinated aromatics (benzenes and toluenes). We found that 20% of the samples tested failed to meet the RSL limit for chlorinated phenols and 5% failed to meet the limit for chlorinated aromatics.
We can speculate as to why this might be, but it is known that a number of commonly-used disperse dyes for polyester are susceptible to contamination with such chemicals as a result of their synthesis routes.
How can Brands & Retailers avoid the failures?
Four steps to a clean supply chain
- Create and communicate a RSL to your supply chain.
- Monitor and audit your supply chain
- Spot test garments to ensure compliance to your RSL
- Partner with a global dyestuff manufacturer in order to tap into their global technical network
DyStar is well positioned to assist Brands and Retailers with the cleansing of the supply chain. As we say at DyStar: “We know what we are selling, do you know what you are buying?”
If you are interested in finding out about how our EconfidenceTM, our Sustainable Textile Services and our Green Range of products can help you manage chemicals in your supply chain please contact us.