Zara commits to detox after Greenpeace dressing down

Greenpeace secured another notable victory this week, after Zara responded swiftly to being named and shamed in the campaign group's latest report on hazardous chemical use in the clothing industry by publicly committing to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals from its supply chain and products by 2020.

Zara's parent company, Inditex, was heavily criticized last week in Greenpeace's new Toxic Threads report, which accused the retailer of selling items contaminated with both NPEs and toxic amines.

The firm responded to the report and subsequent protests at Zara stores around the world by announcing it would work with Greenpeace to deliver a "convincing and realistic" detox pledge, and less than a week later published a revamped "zero discharge" pledge committing the company to phasing out the use of a variety of hazardous chemicals by the end of the decade.

"Inditex is committed to zero discharges of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of all products Inditex sells by Jan. 1, 2020," the company stated.

Significantly, it also said that in order to achieve this goal a new mechanism for publicly reporting on the use of certain chemicals was "important and necessary."

"In line with this principle Inditex will increase the public availability and transparency of its restricted substance list and audit process and will set up public disclosure of discharges of hazardous chemicals in its supply chain," it added.

The new transparency push will come into effect quickly with Inditex requiring 20 suppliers to start disclosing pollution data from March next year, with a further 80 suppliers required to report on their chemical use by the end of 2013.

Martin Hojsik, Detox Campaign Coordinator at Greenpeace International, welcomed the new commitment and called on other high profile brands to deliver similar strategies.

"If the world's biggest fashion retailer can do it, there's no excuse for other brands not to clean up their supply chains and make fashion without pollution," he said.

"People around the world have spoken out against toxic fashion and it's now time for other brands such as Esprit, Gap and Victoria's Secret to listen to their customers and urgently detox."

The move represents the latest in a series of victories for Greenpeace campaigns targetting high profile brands.

Most notably, toy manufacturer Mattel last year pledged to step up efforts to tackle deforestation after Greenpeace accused the company's iconic Barbie doll of contributing to illegal logging, while Apple committed to improve its environmental policies following a long-running campaign against the IT giant.

Photo of Zara store in Sydney provided by Mw12310 via Wikimedia Commons.

This piece originally appeared on Business Green and is reprinted with permission.