Footwear Ecology Question 6

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Question

Is there a policy for the brand (company) to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures to make the footwear?

NL: Heeft het merk (bedrijf) een beleid om alle mogelijke schadelijke chemicaliën uit te bannen in de hele levenscyclus en productieketen van de schoenen?

DE: Setzt der Markenhersteller Maßnahmen um, um alle umwelt- und gesundheitsschädlichen Chemikalien aus dem kompletten Produktlebenszyklus und Produktionsprozess für Kleidung und Schuhe zu eliminieren?

Reference

This question relates to Apparel & Footwear Ecology Question 4 (under review) and to aspect EN21 in the Reporting Guidelines & Apparel and Footwear Sector Supplement of the Global Reporting Initiative.

Materials used for the production of apparel and footwear products involves many chemical processes. In many ‘high risk’ production countries, the use of harmful chemicals and poor water effluent treatments is devastating to nature, groundwater, rivers and the people that depend on these resources, read e.g. [1] and [2]. In 'low risk' countries (such as the EU) legislation often sets standards for chemical use and water effluent.

There are some certification schemes that guarantee a certain level of responsible chemical and water use during production stages. Examples of environmental certification schemes applicable for footwear are the EU Ecolabel (the flower), Nordic Ecolabel and bluesign.

For global clothing and footwear companies, Greenpeace drafted a Zero-Discharge Commitment. Companies that signed this document promise to 'eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of company's products by 2020'. A group of companies (Adidas Group, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike and Puma) drafted their own version of a zero discharge roadmap. The draft version was critized by Greenpeace. A useful resource to get a better picture which brand has signed the Zero-Discharge Commitment, plus is considered as either a "Leader", "Greenwasher" or "Laggard" according to Greenpeace can be found here: The Detox Catwalk. In case you find other resources please contact our verifier.

Our own data shows that in the apparel & footwear sector, only a small percentage (5% in 2010, 10% in 2011) have policies for the 'wet processes' in production chains. Which tells us that this issue has been low on the industry’s agenda. As a consequence, best practices in the sector are by far not 100% waterproof. The criteria we can currently impose on brands are described in the answering guidelines. We will monitor the developments in the sector and raise bar over time.

Answering guidelines

Yes:

  • [Brand]'s footwear is [EU Ecolabel / Nordic Ecolabel / bluesign*] certified, which means that high standards are maintained for responsible chemical and water use during production. This certification is applicable to [some / most / all % (at least 5%!!)] of the [childrens / entire / ___] collection.
  • [Brand] has signed the <name version> Zero-Discharge Commitment. Companies that signed this document promise to 'eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of company's products, by 2020'. In this matter, according to Greenpeace, [Brand] is categorized as a "Leader".


  • [Brand] has strict monitoring program on wastewater treatment in the [production stages] of [percentage] of their products, as well as [*insert practice(s)*].
  • All products are made in [...], which [is a low risk country / are low risk countries] as defined by MADE-BY.


No:

  • [Brand] explicitly reports about not having a policy to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole life cycle of products (see link/page).


?:

  • [Brand] has not published any commitment to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole life cycle of products.