Adidas Group, the world’s second largest sportswear brand, has made a commitment to end the discharge of hazardous chemicals from within its supply chain by 2020. Over the next seven weeks, the company will develop a roadmap to guide the actions of its supply chain, as well as drive the sportswear industry towards elimination of hazardous discharge.
The announcement is in response to a Greenpeace campaign which highlighted the extent to which hazardous chemicals are used and discharged by the textile industry. Greenpeace’s Detox campaign linked major brands to polluting facilities in China.
In a July report called Dirty Laundry, Greenpeace aired the pollution habits of a couple large textile facilities. These facilities were found to be discharging hazardous chemicals that disrupt hormones, and threaten human health. The brands linked to these facilities included Puma, Nike, Adidas, Lacoste, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Converse, Calvin Klein, and several others.
Puma was the first sportswear company to publicly commit to ending discharge of hazardous chemicals within its supply chain. Nike followed suit five weeks into the Detox campaign, and Adidas made its pledge after seven weeks.
As we have written here many times before, water pollution in China is rampant, and textiles are a large contributor to the problem. Greenpeace’s efforts are admirable, and causing at least some movement to get the these manufacturers to ever so slowly change their practices.
“This is great news for our environment, our rivers and the millions of people in China and elsewhere who depend on waterways for their livelihoods,” Yifang Li, of Greenpeace East Asia said. “While Nike, Adidas and Puma are now competing and collaborating in the race towards a toxic-free future, it is urgent that they turn words into actions and provide concrete and ambitious implementation plans and begin making real changes on the ground.”
Adidas has announced as part of its commitment that it will create a nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) phase out plan based on a “no safe level” approach, which recognizes that the chemical builds up in the environment. The company also stated their renewed focus on suppliers, and will work to ensure that suppliers and sub-suppliers meet and adhere to the company’s environmental policy.
Over the next seven weeks, Adidas will fully outline its plan and roadmap. But Adidas, Nike, and Puma are taking this entire process extremely slowly. How much more environmental damage will be done, and how many thousands of people will require medical treatment while the industry slowly begins to address the issue of toxic discharge?
When the Environmental Protection Agency enacted rules preventing American-based textile firms from spewing out toxins, it took only a few years for the factories to get in line (and yes, many of them did move off-shore to countries with lax environmental policies). And at that time, the industry didn’t have the variety of eco-friendly technologies available today.
People don’t want the brands they buy to pollute, and harm human health. Organizations, such as Greenpeace, that shine a light on the polluting ways of industry are a powerful force in today’s connected world. It took the Detox campaign less than two months to get the top three sportswear brands to begin the path, albeit much too slowly, to zero hazardous chemical discharge. Think of what changes are still to come on our collective march towards sustainability.
photo credits: © Clement Tang / Greenpeace