H&M’s “Detox” commitment set to be this season’s hottest fashion trend

Press release - 20 September, 2011
Beijing/Stockholm, 20 September 2011 – Fast fashion retail giant H&M committed yesterday to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals from all production processes associated with the manufacture of its products by 2020 at the latest, following pressure from Greenpeace (1).

H&M’s decision comes after a week of activists in 12 countries urging the company to come clean by attaching “Detox our future!” stickers to H&M’s shop-windows, and online activists around the world calling on the brand to commit to a toxic-free future (2). H&M, the world’s second biggest clothing retailer, now joins Nike, Adidas and Puma as major international brands that have met Greenpeace’s criteria for “Detoxing” their supply chains.

“By committing to ‘Detox’ its supply chain, H&M is not only setting the trend for this season and the future; it also sends a clear message to other brands that using toxic chemicals to make our clothing is no longer in vogue”, said Marietta Harjono, Toxic Campaigner at Greenpeace International. “H&M’s landmark commitment has the potential to be a catalyst for wider change across the fashion industry”.

“H&M must now use its size and influence to lead the entire fashion industry towards a toxic-free future, by working with other committed brands to bring about cross-industry and systemic change,” continued Harjono. “Other big brands who have yet to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals risk losing the trust of their customers, and future business opportunities in key markets such as China, if they continue their polluting practices,” she added.

The “Detox” campaign began when Greenpeace investigations (3) revealed links between major fashion brands, including H&M, and factories that were found to be discharging a range of hazardous chemicals into rivers in China. Further research (4) also revealed that branded clothing from 14 international companies, including H&M, contained nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) that break down into the toxic, persistent and hormone disrupting nonylphenol (NP).

As part of its commitment, H&M has agreed to address the principle of the "right to know" by ensuring public disclosure of all chemicals being released from its suppliers' factories (5), releasing the first data by the end of 2012.

“In countries such as China where we have hundreds of thousands of people living near factories, but not knowing what toxic and often invisible chemicals are being discharged into local water supplies, H&M’s commitment to publicly disclose pollution information is the start of something truly important,” commented Yifang Li, Toxic campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia.

“We will be following H&M’s implementation closely and strongly encourage Chinese brands to follow this trend towards greater transparency, as people have a right to know this information,” Li concluded.

H&M’s commitment comes just ten weeks after the launch of Greenpeace’s “Detox” campaign, which mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to successfully convince sportswear leaders Nike, Adidas and Puma to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals from across their entire supply chains and product lifecycles by 2020 (6). All four brands are now preparing individual Detox Action Plans to show how they will concretely put the ‘Detox’ commitment into practice to bring about real change in the clothing industry. Greenpeace will continue to work with these companies to ensure they live up to their promises and will continue the campaign to encourage others brands to join the “Detox” revolution.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace is campaigning to stop industrial pollution of our water with hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals by demanding that companies and governments take action to "Detox" our future.



Contact details:

Greenpeace International Press Desk Hotline +31 (0) 20 7182470

Marietta Harjono, Detox Campaigner, Greenpeace International (m) + 31 615 007 411

Martin Hojsik, Detox Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace International (m) +421 905 313 395

For images please visit: http://bit.ly/nwRYOD or contact: Greenpeace Picture Desk, John Novis, (m) +31 (0) 629 00 1152,

For video: Lucy Campbell-Jackson (m) +31 634738790


Note to editors:

(1) H&M committed to the elimination of all releases of all hazardous chemicals on 19 September 2011: http://about.hm.com/gb/corporateresponsibility/greenpeace__Greenpeace.nhtml

(2) Online activist from around the world joined the campaign to demand that H&M “Detox” by posting comments on H&M’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/hm) and signing and sharing a global twitter petition (http://act.ly/484)

(3) A year-long Greenpeace investigation into toxic water pollution in China found links between a number of major clothing companies, including Adidas, Nike and H&M, and suppliers in China who were found to be discharging persistent and bioaccumulative hormone disruptors into Chinese rivers. The findings from the research provide 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 and far-reaching consequences for people and wildlife. To read the executive summary or full “Dirty Laundry” report visit: www.greenpeace.org/dirtylaundry

(4) The follow-up product testing report released August 23, entitled “Dirty Laundry II – Hung out to dry”, provided further evidence that chemicals capable of breaking down into persistent, bioaccumulative and hormone-disrupting substances, such as nonylphenol, were being used during the manufacturing processes of over 14 international brands, including H&M, Lacoste and Abercrombie & Fitch. The “Dirty Laundry 2” report is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/Dirty-Laundry-2/

(5)  “We recognize that mechanisms for disclosure and transparency about the hazardous chemicals used in our global supply chains are important and necessary. In line with the right to know principle we will increase the public availability and transparency of our restricted substance list and audit process and will set up public disclosure of  discharges of hazardous chemicals in our supply chain. We will promote development of common standards towards this end.”

“An action plan will be set up by H&M within eight weeks from the time this commitment was made that will detail the measures to be taken to implement this commitment including timelines for public disclosure (f2) and for the elimination of the highest priority hazardous chemicals.”

F2: “Note: the first data should be reported to the public by end 2012

(6) Puma committed to the elimination of hazardous chemicals on July 26th http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Puma-overtakes-competitors-Adidas-and-Nike-in-race-to-drop-toxic-pollution/

Nike committed to the elimination of hazardous chemicals on August 18th http://www.nikebiz.com/media/pr/2011/08/17_zero_discharge.html

Adidas committed to the elimination of hazardous chemicals on August 30th: http://www.adidas-group.com/en/sustainability/statements/2011/Commitment_to_Zero_Discharge_Aug_2011.aspx