Greenpeace International has commissioned a new investigation that delves even further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of high street fashion, going beyond previous investigations in China and Mexico. This latest report builds on the Detox campaign’s work, which reveals how textile manufacturing is a major contributor to water pollution in the Global South.

Our research focuses on a large textiles facility in Indonesia, where we found that a wide range of hazardous substances is being discharged directly into the Citarum River. The responsible facility is PT Gistex, located near Bandung in West Java – where the modern textile industry is concentrated – with 60% of production located in the Citarum River watershed. This factory undertakes polyester weaving and wet processing such as dyeing, printing, and finishing of polyester.

Greenpeace collected samples of wastewater discharged from the PT Gistex facility via three outfalls in May 2012. A diverse range of chemicals was identified in the samples, many with known hazardous properties. Some examples are toxic to aquatic life, while others are persistent pollutants, which means they will remain in the environment long after their release.

Greenpeace International investigations uncovered that several global fashion brands have had a business relationship with at least one part of PT Gistex Group, the company associated with the polluting facility (PT Gistex Textile Division) in Indonesia. To help solve the problem of hazardous chemicals contamination, transparency of information between suppliers and brands – as well as full supplier engagement through hazardous substance use inventories – is essential. Corporate and governmental policies to eliminate the releases of hazardous substances, and their substitution with safer alternatives, need to be enforced.

Gap Inc. failed to respond in a timely manner to our request for comment on whether it has any business relationship with PT Gistex Group (and/or with any of the associated companies PT Gistex Group directs and/or controls). Gap responded 6 weeks later, and after the stated response deadline and the report production deadline. Therefore, the communication from Gap could not be included in the report. In an email dated 10 April 2013, Gap denied sourcing from PT Gistex Textile Division but confirmed a business relationship with PT Gistex Group. Further details on correspondence between Greenpeace, PT Gistex Group, and the brands on the Indonesian report, are on file with Greenpeace International.

Download  Toxic Threads: Polluting Paradise [PDF]

Download the accompanying  Technical Report [PDF], prepared by the Greenpeace Research Laboratories.