Photos by Greenpeace
H&M is the fourth global apparel brand to pledge to eliminate all hazardous-chemical discharge from its supply chain by 2020, according to environmental nonprofit Greenpeace, which successfully put the squeeze on Puma, Adidas, and Nike with its “Detox” campaign over the summer. The Swedish retailer has also agreed to annotate its publicly available list of restricted substances with technical information (such as limits and test methods) in October, as well as disclose the chemicals released by its suppliers’ factories across Asia and Europe by 2012.
Activists in 12 countries spent a week plastering H&M store windows with giant decals imploring the company to “detox our future” and “detox our water.” Online campaigners also descended upon the high-street brand’s Twitter and Facebook with similar petitions. By Friday, Greenpeace activists finally achieved face time with representatives at H&M’s headquarters in Stockholm.
H&M first entered Greenpeace’s sights after it discovered links with factories that were discharging hazardous chemicals into China’s rivers.
H&M, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, first entered Greenpeace’s sights after investigations revealed links between major fashion brands and factories that were discharging hazardous chemicals, including hormone-disruptors such as nonylphenol ethoxylates, into China’s rivers.
“In countries such as China where we have hundreds of thousands of people living near factories, but not knowing what toxic and often invisible chemicals are being discharged into local water supplies,” says Yifang Li, a campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia, in a statement. “H&M’s commitment to publicly disclose pollution information is the start of something truly important.”
Greenpeace will be following H&M’s progress closely, adds Li, while encouraging Chinese brands to provide greater transparency. “People have a right to know this information,” she says.