Gap has announced its decision to phase out toxic chemicals from its products and supply chain, but Greenpeace campaigners are less than enthused with the retail giant’s plan of attack. The problem may lie with the company Gap chooses to keep. The firm is among the latest signatories to the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Programme, a coalition of major apparel and footwear brands, including H&M, Inditex, Nike, Marks & Spencer, and Puma, that formed in the wake of Greenpeace’s 2011 “Detox” campaign. Although the group says it’s committed to leading the fashion industry toward the elimination of all hazardous substances by 2020, Greenpeace isn’t completely sold on its promises.
PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Gap Turns Indonesian River Into an Unnaturally Multicolored Chemical Soup
HEROS OR ZEROS?
In June, the environmental nonprofit criticized the latest update from the ZDHC for delivering “more promises and pilots, rather than concrete actions to create toxic-free fashion.”
Greenpeace has criticized the ZDHC for delivering “more promises and pilots, rather than concrete actions to create toxic-free fashion.”
“Since the launch of the Detox campaign in 2011, millions of people around the world have raised their voices to demand a future free from the threats of hazardous chemicals,” Greenpeace said in a statement. “As the global water crisis worsens—against a backdrop of unrelenting hazardous and hormone-disrupting substances released into our public waterways by the fashion industry—the ambition and actions shown by this group seem out of touch with both the reality on the ground, and the demands of the brand’s stakeholders, fans, and customers.”
Still, Greenpeace didn’t ding all of ZDHC’s roster for the same offenses. It praised, for instance, members such as H&M, which banned the use of perfluorinated chemicals from its supply chain in January 2013, thus exceeding ZDHC’s more-modest proposal of eliminating only a portion of PFCs by 2015.
Greenpeace also lauded non-ZDHC members such as Mango for making progress not only by becoming more transparent about the toxins that are used and released in their global supply chains, but also through its sharing of safer alternatives.
Greenpeace says that big brands like Gap need to “stop hiding behind the ZDHC Group’s paper commitments and take concrete action to detox our future.”
“In contrast, the ZDHC Group has limited its ambition to more pilots and promises, preferring to deliver a tiny amount of disclosure from anonymous facilities, and refusing to disclose on a supplier-by-supplier and chemical-by-chemical basis,” Greenpeace added.
Detox campaigner Ilze Smit told Ecouterre that big brands like Gap need to “stop hiding behind the ZDHC Group’s paper commitments and take concrete action to detox our future.” She added: If they continue to hide behind weak commitments and not act upon their promises, how can consumers trust their claims to be ‘all in’ for toxic-free fashion?”
Other new members, according to ZDHC’s third-quarter progress report, include PvH Corp., which owns the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, and Limited Brands, which operates Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel.