Exposed: Levi's, big fashion brands, caught out in Mexican pollution scandal

Press release - 5 December, 2012
Mexico City, 5 December 2012 – Greenpeace International investigations have revealed dumping of industrial wastewater containing toxic and hazardous chemicals from two of Mexico’s biggest textile manufacturing facilities. These facilities supply clothing to big fashion brands, including Levi’s (1).

The report “Toxic Threads: Under Wraps”, details how Kaltex and Lavamex facilities operate with little transparency and under weak laws, which allow them to avoid scrutiny of their manufacturing processes. Other brands linked to the facilities include Calvin Klein, LVMH, Guess, Gap and Walmart.

“This is some of the worst water pollution from the textile industry Greenpeace has found in Mexico. These facilities are so secretive that Greenpeace had to force the government to disclose even the most basic information about what sort of toxic cocktail was being pumped into our water and who was responsible. Mexicans have a right to know what’s being released into their rivers,” said Pierre Terras, Toxics Campaign Coordinator at Greenpeace Mexico.


Greenpeace International investigations into textile manufacturing facilities in Mexico found a wide range of hazardous substances in wastewater being discharged from these two facilities. Many of the chemicals identified are used during textile manufacturing processes, or are created as a result of the break down of chemicals used in textiles processing.

“What we have in Mexico is a classic tale of big brands hiding behind lax regulation and secretive discharge methods. For all their grandiose statements about restoring the environment and doing what’s good for the planet, Levi’s uses suppliers that are polluting Mexican rivers,” said Terras.

Testing on water samples taken from near the pipe mouths revealed that processed effluent contained chemicals that are toxic to reproductive systems and to aquatic life. Some of these chemicals are persistent and remain in the environment long after their release.

“While we don’t know the full extent of what’s being pumped into Mexico’s water, we do know that big fashion brands urgently need to detox. Brands such as Levi’s must require their suppliers to disclose discharge data and set short term dates for the elimination of the worst hazardous chemicals,” said Martin Hojsik, Detox Campaign Coordinator for Greenpeace International.
 
The widespread use of hazardous chemicals in the fashion industry was revealed in “Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up”, released 20 November, which showed for instance that Levi’s jeans manufactured in Mexico contained hazardous chemicals. To highlight the responsibility brands must take for their entire supply chain, Greenpeace activists today displayed a 110-meter long arrow pointing to textile facility Lavamex, asking US-based brand Levi’s to “stop polluting Mexico’s rivers”.

NOTES:

1.     Levi Strauss & Co. is the private company that includes brands such as Levi’s: http://www.levistrauss.com/brands

2.     The report “Toxic Threads: Under Wraps” can be viewed here: www.greenpeace.org/international/under-wraps


MEDIA CONTACT:  Tristan Tremschnig, Media Relations Specialist, Greenpeace International, email: , mobile: +31 6 43 78 7393

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