A new investigative report from Greenpeace, ‘Dirty Laundry’, profiles the problem of toxic water pollution resulting from the release of hazardous chemicals by the textile industry in China. The investigations focuses on two facilities that were found to be discharging a range of hazardous and persistent chemicals with hormone-disrupting properties. These results are indicative of a much wider problem that is posing serious and immediate threats to both our precious ecosystems and to human health. Urgent and transparent action is needed in order to eliminate the use and release of these hazardous chemicals.

As part of the investigations, Greenpeace also uncovered links between these polluting facilities and a number of major clothing, fashion and sportswear brands. Notably, the international brands Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Bauer Hockey, Calvin Klein, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Lacoste, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH Corp) and Puma, and the Chinese brands Li Ning, Meters/bonwe and Youngor, have all had products manufactured at one or the other of the facilities.

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.

As brand owners, they are in the best position to influence the environmental impacts of production and to work together with their suppliers to eliminate the releases of all hazardous chemicals from the production process and their products.

Greenpeace is calling on the brands and suppliers identified in this investigation to become champions for a toxic-free future – by eliminating all releases of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and their products.

Governments also have a crucial role to play. To this end, Greenpeace is calling on governments to work towards the elimination of all releases of hazardous chemicals by adopting a political commitment to ‘zero discharge’ of all hazardous chemicals within one generation, based on the precautionary principle and a preventative approach to chemicals management.