Greenpeace: leading SA brands need to champion toxic-free future

As adidas and Nike stores targeted by Activists in China

Press release - July 13, 2011
Johannesburg, 13 July 2011 – Major brands in South Africa have no choice but to urgently eliminate hazardous chemicals from their production; that put people and the environment at risk of toxic pollution.

This statement comes as Greenpeace activists displayed a banner with the message “Detox” at the main entrance of both the world’s largest Adidas store and a nearby Nike store today in Beijing calling on the superman giants to remove toxic chemicals from their supply chains and from their products. The demand comes as the result of a year-long investigation into toxic water pollution in China. 

The Greenpeace International "Dirty Laundry" report, launched today at press conferences in Beijing and Hong Kong, found hazardous chemicals in samples of wastewater discharges taken at two textile processing facilities, Youngor Textile City Complex and the Well Dyeing Factory Limited by the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas, both with links to a number of major international and national clothing brands (1) including Adidas, Nike and the Chinese Li Ning. The findings follow the earlier publication of "Hidden Consequences", which highlighted the impacts of industrial pollution on rivers around the world (2).

Greenpeace is challenging the clothing brands named in this report to eliminate hazardous chemical discharges from their supply chain and products, and is calling on trendsetting brands that have a major influence on their supply chains to take the lead. “Companies need to start acting now and take responsibility for how they produce”, said Olivia Langhoff, Greenpeace Africa Campaigns Director. “Also in South Africa, consumers should be able to purchase products that do not harm natural resources or people’s health, no matter where the products are produced.”

The chemicals found in the sampling carried out by Greenpeace include persistent and bioaccumulative hormone disruptors that pose long-term threats to the environment and to human health (4)(5).

"Our findings give a snapshot of the kind of toxic chemicals that are being released by the textile industry into waterways all over the world and are indicative of a much wider problem that is having serious, long-term and far-reaching consequences for people and wildlife," said Martin Hojsik, Coordinator of the Toxic Water campaign at Greenpeace International.

"At the moment, none of the brands highlighted in the report have a complete overview of the chemicals being used and released in making their products. The solution to this problem is the adoption of comprehensive chemicals management policies, which will enable these companies to systematically monitor, reduce and eliminate hazardous chemicals throughout their supply chain", added Hojsik.

Greenpeace is calling on the companies to work towards the elimination of hazardous chemical discharges. “It is time, that corporations put a stop to exposing people and the environment to the risks created by the release of these toxic substances” concluded Langhoff

Greenpeace is asking supporters and consumers to challenge major brands to “Detox” their supply chain and products and to champion a toxic free future.


Notes to the Editor:
The executive summary and the full report are available at

(1)    Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Bauer Hockey, Calvin Klein, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Lacoste, Li Ning, Meters/bonwe, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH Corp), Puma and Youngor. When confirming their commercial relationship with the Youngor Group, Bauer Hockey, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Nike and Puma informed Greenpeace that they make no use of the wet processes of the Youngor Group for the production of their garments. However, regardless of what they use these facilities for, none of the brands found to have commercial links with these two facilities have in place comprehensive chemicals management policies that would allow them to have a complete overview of the hazardous chemicals used and released across their entire supply chain, and to act on this information. See page 38 of the Dirty Laundry report.
(3)    Among the numerous chemicals used and released by industry, persistent substances - such as heavy metals and some hazardous organic chemicals - are a source of particularly high concern.  What makes many of these chemicals so dangerous is that they are not only persistent (meaning that they do not readily break down in the environment), but also bioaccumulative, (meaning that they can build up in the food chain and can have serious, long-term effects on the organisms that ingest them).  Some are able to interfere with hormone systems in people and wildlife, even at very low doses, while others are carcinogenic or reprotoxic.
(4) Among the chemicals found in sampling: alkyphenols (including nonyphenol), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and perfluorooctane sulphorate (PFSs) For more detailed information on the specific chemicals check box 4.3, of the "Dirty Laundry" report, page 78). Previous Greenpeace investigations have also detected the persistent and hormone disrupting pollutants alkylphenols and PFCs in fish species along the Yangtze River:


In South Africa

  • Olivia Langhoff, Greenpeace Africa Campaign Director, (m) 27 82 4529019
  • Fiona Musana, Greenpeace Africa Communications Director, (m) +27 79 5129381

In China

  • Martin Hojsik Greenpeace International, Coordinator Toxic Water Campaign, (m)  +421 905 313 395
  • Yifang Li, Greenpeace East Asia Toxics campaigner, (m) +86 13910627154

In Amsterdam

  • Tommy Crawford, Greenpeace International Communication, (m) +31 62 700 00 60
  • Marietta Harjono, Greenpeace International Coordinator Toxic Water Campaign, (m) +31615007411
  • Greenpeace International Press Desk Hotline +31 (0) 20 7182470

For visuals:

  • Greenpeace Picture Desk, Alex Yallop,  (M)+31 (0) 624 94 19 65,  To preview the images available visit
  • Greenpeace Video Production, for b-roll and video contact Lucy Campbell-Jackson, (m)  +31 634738790,
  • Greenpeace Video Production, for b-roll and video contact Lucy Campbell-Jackson, (m)  +31 634738790,