Action plan to help lead our industry to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals

As part of our shared commitment to help lead the apparel industry towards eliminating hazardous chemicals and to achieve zero discharges of such by 2020, H&M has together with adidas Group, C&A, Li Ning, NIKE, Inc. and Puma developed a joint roadmap. It is an ambitious plan, one that sets a new standard of environmental performance for the global apparel and footwear industry.

The roadmap includes specific commitments and timelines to realize this shared goal. These commitments include:

  • Jointly communicating the mission of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals to all suppliers beginning immediately
  • Conducting pilot projects at major, vertically integrated and materials suppliers between 2011 and 2013 to better understand scope of use and discharge of hazardous chemicals
  • Verifying that nine classes of hazardous or persistent chemicals are not currently used
  • Initiating an inventory of all chemicals used in apparel manufacturing by the end of 2012
  • Disclosing the results of all pilots and studies undertaken as part of this commitment
  • Reporting regularly and publicly on our progress against this commitment (quarterly in 2012, annually from 2013 to 2020).

The joint roadmap is a living document: it will continue to be refined as we gain additional intelligence and insights through our initial pilots and research, as well as our collaboration with other brands and stakeholders. The group of brands commits to reviewing and updating the roadmap at least annually and making the results public.

In releasing the roadmap, we have asked SustainAbility to solicit feedback from a key group of stakeholders over the next six weeks. In addition, we are also accepting comments from the public through December 31, 2011. All comments can be directed to ztdi@sustainability.com. Based on the feedback, we will consider refining the roadmap in 2012.

Our vision is that the roadmap serves as a benchmark and that many more brands join us in our efforts

Tackling and achieving the goal of zero discharge is a complex challenge – one that our brand collaboration cannot solve alone. Our vision is that the roadmap serves as a benchmark and that many more brands join us in our efforts. Ultimately, we want and need a broad array of participants to partner with us in this endeavor – chemical suppliers, academics, NGOs, textile experts, entrepreneurs, policy makers and others. We understand that we are setting out to change the way apparel and footwear is manufactured, globally, and are thus casting our net wide for the best ideas and solutions.

We have achieved our first milestone. On September 26 to 28, 2011 we met with over 30 brands, chemical companies and other experts in a workshop which forged this roadmap. Such engagements will continue as we develop and deliver against an industry standard for zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in the supply chain.

In publishing this roadmap, adidas Group, C&A, H&M, Nike, Li Ning and Puma call on others the global apparel and footwear industry to join us in this vital undertaking, which has one aim: to safeguard the environment for future generations.

H&M's additional individual action plan

In addition to the collaborative approach outlined in the joint roadmap, H&M has developed an additional individual action plan in line with our commitment to complement the group roadmap. As part of our commitment to transparency, we will report on progress made through the sustainability section of our corporate website and our annual sustainability reporting.

The defined actions are well in line with our existing sustainability program and build on an extensive record of experiences and achievements. Accordingly, we can already report on progress against several of these actions points.

- As outlined in our commitment to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, we have already extended H&M’s publicly available lists of restricted substances with technical information such as restricted limits and test methods. An updated version will be launched before the end of 2011, taking the intrinsic hazards approach into account.

- Acknowledging the right to know principle, we are committed to encourage and support selected suppliers in publicly disclosing discharge data by the end of 2012. However, the challenge of helping to lead our sector and its global supply chains to improved transparency and disclosure cannot be tackled by an individual brand alone. Therefore, as outlined in the joint roadmap, we together with the group of brands will:

  • in 2012, convene a cross sector group to explore the best ways to encourage sector wide supplier chemical disclosure. We will also deliver a study based on data collection from a selected group of facilities.
  • In 2012 explore platform options for suppliers to disclose their chemical inventory under the assumption that disclosing their inventory will have a positive effect.
  • On an ongoing basis, disclose the results of all studies undertaken as part of this initiative (without reference to specific facilities).
  • In 2012, provide joint quarterly updates to projects/programs, and from 2013 publish annual performance updates on the roadmap. Each end of year update will be open for comment and feedback from key stakeholders.
  • In 2012, publish an updated joint roadmap, based on the experience we have gathered throughout 2012 and on input from all stakeholders.
  • Continue to update the individual brands Restricted Substances Lists (RSL) and Manufacturing RSL (black list) and associated testing protocols.

- H&M already requires all suppliers with wet processes to treat their waste water and we monitor waste water quality as a minimum against the traditional parameters of the BSR water quality guideline. Below these values and/or the local legal values (whichever is more stringent), a facility can be considered ‘In Compliance’ with the guidelines. This applies independent of whether any wet processes are used for making H&M´s products or if they are only used in the production for other brands sourcing from the same factory. We publicly report on the results already through our annual sustainability report. Building on this advanced water management program, we have now initiated the development of an additional audit tool with specific focus on chemical management and wastewater quality monitoring. We plan to implement this in our regular audit routines during the first quarter of 2012.

- H&M initiated the phase out of APEO’s in 1999. We sharpened our restrictions and enforced a usage ban already in 2009. As outlined in our commitment to zero discharge, we have now sent a reminder to all our suppliers on this usage ban, which they are contractually bound to. Additionally, we requested following immediate actions from our suppliers:

  • Investigate the use of NPEs in their facilities in the production for any other clients
  • Investigate the indirect use of any NPE containing products, for example in not production related processes such as facility maintenance, lubricant oils or similar
  • Remind all sub-suppliers about the valid usage ban on NPEs
  • Provide information to H&M about which chemical suppliers are used and management systems in place to ensure compliance with H&M´s requirements on substances banned for usage in production

- We have since some time already worked on restricting and phasing out perfluorinated substances. In winter 2010, we launched the first fluorocarbon-free outerwear in our stores. We continue to work towards our aim that all water-repellent clothing at H&M should be free of fluorocarbons.

- We will continue our work to help our suppliers to reduce the emissions of VOCs and other substances to air and replace solvent-based adhesives in our products with water based alternatives.

- We will continue to support further development to replace conventional PU (polyurethane) with a water based alternative and thereby provide an alternative to the use of DMF (Dimethyl formamide) and reduce emissions resulting from VOCs and. We will have the first products sold in our shops first half 2012 with the ultimate goal to have phase out solvent based PU in future.

- Continue to increase the use of leather which is certified by the Leather Working Group in order to, amongst others, further limit hazardous chemical use in leather and production and promote sustainable leather production.

- Investigate methods to replace chlorine bleaching processes in denim production (e.g. with ozon bleaching, which does not require further chemical treatments nor water use to achieve desired washing effects).

- Work to limit the use of pesticides and fertilisers in cotton production by sourcing only more sustainable cotton by 2020, grown with no or significantly reduced use of fertilisers and pesticides. Already by now, H&M is the world's biggest user of organic cotton. Through our involvement in the Better Cotton Initiative we work to among other benefits significantly reduce the amount of pesticides and fertilisers used in the entire cotton production.

Progress Report

adidas Group, C&A, G-Star, H&M, Li Ning, NIKE, Inc. and Puma released their first update on the progress in implementing the joint roadmap towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (ZDHC) in the supply chain by 2020 on April 24th 2012. As part of the groups commitment to transparency, this is the first in a regular series of progress updates as the signatories to the joint roadmap move to set a new standard of environmental performance for the global apparel and footwear industry. You can view the update at roadmaptozero.com.

Our commitment to Zero Discharge

Helping to lead our industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals.

Chemicals Management

From ban of PFCs to our engagement in the road to Zero Discharge of Hazardeous Chemicals.

Towards zero discharge

Find out the details of our roadmap and actions towards zero discharge.

Download Key Themes from Stakeholder Consultation
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