Brands in textile industry will have to take steps to not only keep in check hazardous chemicals in the finished article, but also in waste water, sludge and (at a later stage) in air emissions
With the shift in manufacturing base to the producer countries in the East, the monitoring of the supply chain activities such as logistics, deliveries, quality and environmental compliances has undergone a paradigm shift. The fragmented nature of the supply chain has compounded the challenges to brands to ensure consumer safety and eco-compliance in their products.
Many brands traditionally have been focusing on consumer safety. In order to ensure that the final article is free from hazardous chemicals, most brands formulate a Restricted Substances List (RSL), which is a guideline on chemicals that are prohibited for use. The compliance to the RSL is generally checked through random sampling and testing of the finished article at accredited laboratories.
Brands require their suppliers and business partners to implement processes in their operations to comply with these RSL requirements and communicate the information to their raw material suppliers.
The question is: Is there actual compliance with such initiatives and policies across the fragmented and diverse supply chain?
The Dirty Laundry campaign
A new investigative campaign by Greenpeace – called ‘Dirty Laundry’, has brought out some pointers to the above question. Greenpeace started a campaign to profile the problem of water pollution resulting from the release of hazardous chemicals by the textile industry in China. In its series of investigations, the NGO found that environmentally harmful chemicals were being widely used in the processing chain, even by leading brands – inspite of the brands’ claims of implementing RSLs at their suppliers end.
The Dirty Laundry reports thus have blown the lid off the role brands are expected to play in product and consumer safety by ensuring compliance of their supply chain.