mannequen and mermaidI have just arrived in Copenhagen to give a speech at the #Copenhagen #Fashion Summit. The organizers claim this to be the world's largest and most important conference on sustainability and CSR in the fashion industry. The biennial Summit gathers 800 to 1000 key industry stakeholders to identify new opportunities and forward-looking solutions for the global fashion industry to tackle the growing sustainability challenges facing the planet.

Being part of the team campaigning to Detox the textile and fashion industry this is really the right place to be.

The fashion industry has a history of pollution, human rights violations and unsustainable business practices, but if the recent past is anything to go by then there is an ambition to change things, and events like these fill me with hope.

Thanks to the actions taken by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, six major brands have credibly and publicly committed to Detox their supply chains and their products. These brands have the potential to be the catalyst for a wider change across the fashion industry, and our work is to make sure that a critical mass of companies push the balance in favor of a toxic-free production, and enable societal change.

This is why I am here at the Copenhagen Summit, where my presence is about inspiring more brands to deliver toxic-free fashion - and soon.

There are signs that the tipping point is getting closer. Just last Friday, PPR, a multinational holding company with a large brand portfolio, including Gucci and Alexander McQueen, announced its plan to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its production by 2020 and to devote serious resources to tackle this urgent issue across all of its brands. We welcome this ambition, but in order for this announcement to be credible and for PPR to become a Detox champion it still needs to deliver on the three pillars needed for a toxic-free future:

1.    Publicly outline exactly how the elimination of hazardous chemical will be delivered, with exact deadlines (and no loopholes)!
2.    Provide  pollution data from its facilities on its journey towards toxic-free production.
3.    Regular report back on its progress. With consumer trust being so important for big companies' future success, transparency is just as important as the actions themselves

Another two signs of progress came from H&M, the fast-fashion giant and one of the six committed brands. The retailer recently announced a process to fully ban all fluorocarbons throughout their global supply-chain by the end of 2012 and to shift to available alternatives. They have also publicly committed to ambitiously complete their process of fully eliminating all use of alkylphenol substances across their entire global supply-chain. This is fantastic news, but must urgently include full formulation transparency from all chemical suppliers within the apparel and footwear industry in order for it to have the maximum positive impact.

At the end of the day, the goals of the fashion industry should be bold and ambitious, setting examples and creating new standards. Greenpeace will encourage and nag, inspire and report. We will also keep amplifying the voice of the people, because after all, consumers are demanding change, and behind every consumer there is always an activist.

More from Copenhagen soon…

Note: to read more about the quoted companies commitments check:

PPR  <http://www.ppr.com/en/press/press-releases/ppr-introduces-environmental-and-social-5-year-targets-across-luxury-and-sport-> paragraph 4, bullet point 5.

H&M Sustainability report, page 73 (APEO) and 74 (PFC) at <http://about.hm.com/content/dam/hm/about/documents/en/CSR/reports/Conscious%20Actions%20Sustainability%20Report%202011_en.pdf>