ZDHC Impact Report sees positive results for the fashion industry

The Netherlands-based Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation (ZDHC) released its 2021 Impact Report this week and says it continues to record positive results. Several suppliers adhere to the restrictions of the ZDHC Restricted Substances List (MRSL) which prohibits the use of certain toxic chemicals in production. This is especially true in Asia, which has the largest number of ZDHC member producers.

Frank Michel, CEO of the ZDHC Foundation, said: “In addition to the need to drastically reduce our carbon footprint, we urgently need to address interconnected environmental crises that receive less attention: massive biodiversity loss and degradation of water resources around the planet. By building ZDHC competence centers on greenhouse gas emissions (climate change), biodiversity, circularity and water management, we are directly addressing these interrelated issues. We need to keep in mind that chemistry will be part of the solution: it can help us understand, monitor, protect and improve the environment around us. ”

Of the suppliers who reported all their wastewater data in October 2021 (excluding missing information suppliers), the most important parts of the report include:

  • 98% of manufacturing suppliers within the community did not detect ZDHC MRSL restricted substances in their wastewater. Metals follow the same trend, leading to the conclusion that metals are not used intentionally in the textile supply chain.
  • 95% of PFAS (artificial chemicals for non-stick surfaces) listed in the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines have been eliminated in wastewater testing facilities.
  • 79% of brands require their suppliers to adopt and implement the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines.
  • 85% increase in facilities according to the ZDHC guidelines for wastewater from 2019. The number of wastewater reports almost doubled from April 2019 to October 2021.

The first five countries to perform were: Bangladesh, India, Turkey, China and Italy.

ZDHC explains that its Roadmap to Zero program provides clear guidance to companies on how to move away from the use of certain hazardous chemicals in production and replace them with safer alternatives. The program analyzes wastewater tests from thousands of factories around the world from hundreds of brands to see how they are progressing in their commitment to zero emissions of hazardous chemicals. ZDHC tests raw wastewater, or industrial wastewater, before it is treated, to have a complete picture of what is used in the production process.

The roadmap also tests treated wastewater to ensure that manufacturers adhere to conventional clean water restrictions (such as pH, color and temperature).

ZDHC also maintains training, education and creates metrics that brands, manufacturers and suppliers must follow (verified by independent parties). ZDHC guides producers on the importance of water management: specifically, how to safely and efficiently treat wastewater, as well as find alternative approaches to certain processes (such as painting or washing stones) that traditionally use large amounts of water.

ZDHC notes that in order to increase the scope of change, it is connecting with like-minded organizations in order to create a more holistic journey towards sustainable management of chemicals in production. These include: the Coalition for Sustainable Clothing (SAC); textile exchange (TE); and the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii). This year, ZDHC is also expanding its mission beyond water and chemical management to air emissions.

Fashion radar

In connection with the report, ZDHC has also launched what is called Detox Fashion Radar, which is a quick way to see the progress of a particular brand towards ‘detoxifying’ their supply chains.

Radar measures brand progress and performance to implement sustainable chemicals management through the Maps to Zero Program. This gives the public (and the brands themselves) the status of their “detoxification”, and the intention is to motivate other brands by sharing examples of best practice from leaders. It also increases transparency by making brands more accountable to the public, ZDHC says.

Radar was launched with top fashion brands that have achieved the highest level of success with the program – Aspirational Level. So far, five brands have reached this level (in alphabetical order): Burberry, C&A, H&M Group, Levi Strauss & Co. and Victoria’s Secret & Co.

KPMG, an independent third party, evaluates brand performance each year based on over 70 different objectives (key performance indicators, KPIs). These goals measure how the brand integrates ZDHC guidelines, platforms and solutions into its corporate value chain strategy and practices. They are asked to take corrective action regarding chemicals management and supply chain practices. The brands with the best performance have been highlighted as leaders in the implementation of sustainable chemicals management on the ZDHC Brand Leaderboard.

ZDHC says other brands in the Roadmap to Zero community can learn from the best practices of these industry leaders on how to make progress on their own travels.

Read the full impact report here.

Earlier this month, ZDHC and The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) presented details of a major initiative to address microfibers in textile wastewater.

Related companies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.