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DyStar to phase out usage of Colour Index

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Speciality textile dyes and chemicals marketer DyStar Group said it is going to phase out the usage of the Colour Index.

The Colour Index is a reference work published jointly by the Society of Dyers & Colourists (SDC) and the American Association of Textile Chemists & Colorists (AATCC) which lists manufactured colorants.

“It is commonly used by manufacturers and the textile industry to identify colourants,” DyStar said in a press release.

Giving reasons DyStar said, the Colour Index lists products based on general chemical structure, but is missing environmental and ecology factors which are becoming important for product selection.

There are few limitations on the usage by manufacturers of the Colour Index and as a consequence, it doesn’t guarantee compliance with global regulations or place restrictions on potential contaminant substances.

According to DyStar, manufactures of pigments and dyes that commit to be compliant with legal, voluntary and Brand & Retailer RSL requirements don’t have a way of differentiation from the other suppliers.

“On the other hand, textile manufacturers, brands and retailers might not be aware what they are buying, which can have severe consequences for the brand,” DyStar observed.

By only using its own trademarks as product identifiers and stepping away from the Colour Index, DyStar is differentiating itself from suppliers who potentially compromise on environmental and ecological matters.

The DyStar Group wants to make brands & retailers aware that although products may be listed in the Colour Index this does not necessarily mean that they do not contain chemical substances.

“These substances may be subject to restriction by legislation or by voluntary industry initiatives such as the ZDHC MRSL list published in June 2014,” it explained.

DyStar Group is a solution provider, offering customers across the globe a complete range of colorants, auxiliaries and services.

The DyStar Group has offices, competence centers, agencies and production plants in over 50 countries to ensure the availability of expertise in all important markets.

DyStar’s service division offers state of the art colour communication through CSI, textile and ecology testing through Texanlab, ecology and environmental advice, supply chain auditing and consulting for RSL compliant sustainable processes.

The DyStar econfidence program provides assurance that provided products comply with legal, voluntary and brand & retailer RSL requirements, its products are in compliance with legislation. (AR)

** This post previously appeared on fibre2fashion here.

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Olivia Wilde shows her entrepreneurial side at H&M

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Image: Shutterstock

Fast-fashion giant H&M’s push into sustainable apparel made of organic cotton, organic linen, Tencel and recycled polyester is getting a higher profile with actress Olivia Wilde overseeing the launch of its “Conscious Exclusive” collection at a pop-up at its store in New York City’s Times Square.

The H&M pop-up, in the store at 4 Times Square, is designed to be more of a festive event, with store hours extended past midnight to encourage shoppers to linger late. On Tuesday, the pop-up will operate from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., according to Women’s Wear Daily. From Wednesday through Sunday, the pop-up’s last day, hours will be 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. The sustainable collection will launch in all stores and online on Thursday.

Wilde co-founded Conscious Commerce, one of the brands featured in the collection, a few years ago with business partner Barbara Burchfield. The e-commerce site aims to connect brands with charities and allows consumers to give back to charities as they purchase apparel, home goods and accessories that they would buy anyway. Its previous partnerships have included one with the retailer Anthropologie on a dress that, with each purchase, gave back to a school in Kolkata, India, that serves children in the city’s red-light district.

As Wilde explained in an interview with Forbes, she had tried her hand at traditional philanthropy but found that charities were pursuing the same rich donors over and over. Her idea was to extend the opportunity on a wider scale to consumers who would like to give back.

“It should be shocking when a product isn’t somehow helping the people who made it,” she said.

Wilde became the face of H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection of environmentally sustainable clothing in December.

The shop, which Sweden-based H&M has been featuring annually since 2011, will also feature eco-friendly brands committed to sustainability such as Amour Vert, Apolis, Feed, Freedom of Animals, The Giving Keys, K/ller Collection, Preserve, Shft, Studio One Eighty Nine and Zady.

** This post first appeared on The Business Journal here.

Patagonia Invests in Natural Textile Treatments

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Patagonia today announced a strategic investment in a chemical company focused on making high-performance textile treatments based on natural raw materials.

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Image Credit: Patagonia

Beyond Surface Technologies, a Swiss firm, was founded in 2008 by scientists and marketing experts with more than 40 years of experience in the textile industry. They left careers at big chemical companies to build a business based on the premise that it is possible to make textile treatments based on natural raw materials — without sacrificing performance or reducing the lifespan of a product.

The investment comes through Patagonia’s “$20 Million & Change” fund, which launched in 2013 to “help innovative, like-minded companies bring solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business.”

Chemicals are a required component in achieving the high performance needed for harsh outdoor conditions — it’s what makes waterproof materials stand up to torrential wilderness downpours, jackets that can resist wind on a steep pitch and pants that have the right amount of protection as you’re knee-deep in fresh powder, Patagonia says.

However, these chemicals which are relied on for technical performance can be toxic and persist in the environment, a serious issue Patagonia says it is tackling aggressively. It plans to share any breakthroughs Beyond Surface Technologies may produce with the entire outdoor industry in order to amplify the environmental impact to the greatest extent possible.

“Patagonia’s investment gives us the opportunity to accelerate testing and reduce time to market for our pipeline of groundbreaking new treatments for the entire apparel industry, Matthias Foessel, CEO of Beyond Surface Technologies said in a statement. “Patagonia is enabling us to grow even faster — benefiting the environment and enhancing product performance — while remaining completely independent and in control of the original founders.”

In related chemicals news, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute late last year announced it would begin offering a Material Health Certificate, a tool for manufacturers across industries to communicate their work toward chemically optimized products. The Material Health Certificate marks the first time the Institute has offered reporting of its comprehensive methodology in only one category.

** This post first appeared on Sustainable Brands here.

From Remembering Rana Plaza to the New Fashion Revolution

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** This article by Michael Lavergne first appeared in the Sourcing Journal here.

In recent weeks I had the pleasure of being asked to address two equally important groups of Canadian fashion industry leaders; both the Master’s and aspiring undergraduate classes at Toronto’s Ryerson University School of Fashion. (Where New York is represented by Parsons and London claims Saint Martin, the Ryerson School represents the leading edge of industry education in Canada, and so receiving such an invitation was, for me, a humbling opportunity to influence young thinkers.)

I was specifically invited to speak about social sustainability issues in our industry and while preparing, the question came to mind, “What could I tell these emerging generations of industry hopefuls that could both open their minds to the challenges and leave them with a sense of hope for what lies ahead for the apparel trade?” Three themes came to mind.

Importantly, I wanted students to understand that the school’s efforts at embedding sustainable thinking and responsible industry practices into curriculum are in itself a significant step. Major gaps exist in industry education across North America but the past few years have seen a building momentum toward both recognizing and addressing ethical challenges in the garment trade.

The Rana Plaza tragedy nearly two years ago on April 24, 2013, brought that message home to many Canadian industry hopefuls and veterans alike when Joe Fresh, a leading Canadian brand was identified in the factory rubble. But at many institutions, the creative forces of fashion and those of business and entrepreneurship are still struggling to agree on what exactly the industry wants to become.

This set up my second point as I called my audience’s attention to the critical juncture our industry is at as a reflection of our larger society’s struggle to identify the role of business we want to see today. We are arguably the best educated, prepared, equipped and financed generation ever to tackle the human and environmental ills which the global apparel trade has wrought in its wake. In the battle of philosophies, either the ‘profit at all costs’ school will win out or the ‘forces for change’ camp will. Do today’s designers, merchants and entrepreneurs have the tools, training and skills for what is coming?

I concluded on a final point which I believe is key to the re-engineering of fashion trades as a set of local, sustainable systems: that it is wholly in the hands of each student to choose between the two paths ahead of them. They can choose to engage, challenge and energize fashion while shaping it to be an active participant in a sustainable world.

If not, the other road leads to conformity, mass efficiency, standardization, brand versus product and financial returns above all else. It was, I told students, for them to choose the future of the industry they wanted to be a part of. Luckily for us all, some exciting new outliers and efforts are now helping to point the way forward but it won’t be an easy path.

Today’s $1.1 trillion global apparel markets will reach $2 trillion by the year 2025 with Canada representing only 2 percent of the spending pie while China becomes the largest global consumer of apparel. We bought nearly 28 billion Canadian dollars ($22.45 billion) in fashion and apparel in 2014 with women’s wear accounting for half that total spend.

To feed the demand for fashion at more accessible prices, the two dozen Canadian and American retailers who control our market imported 10 billion Canadian dollars ($8 billion) worth of apparel in 2013, an increase of 2 billion Canadian dollars ($1.6 billion) over the previous five years while population growth was essentially flat.

China, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam account for 60 percent of the origin of those goods where monthly manufacturing wages range from $60–$165 per month…per month…for an average 65-hour work week.

Meanwhile, Canadian manufacturers shed nearly 100,000 apparel factory jobs over the past decade which supported another estimated 200,000 jobs in local communities while most consumers only celebrated reduced clothing bills while filing local landfills with discarded fast-fashion.

What was not abundantly clear to consumers was the price that more low-cost fashion would have on local manufacturing communities, on worker’s health and human rights, on the physical environment and ecosystems with which our industry intersects at so many points. With our educational institutes only recently bringing these issues into the classroom, one couldn’t expect the average shopper to know any better.

While organizations like Toronto-based Fashion Takes Action offers classroom experiences and awareness education in consumption, Fair Trade and sustainability, few other resources seem to have invested time or effort into public civics education for the world of today, the world of living wages, ethical consumption, individual rights and, above all, in an interconnected global society, the right to know.

Now the same communications innovations of the Internet age, which facilitate globalized manufacturing, have enabled citizens, interest groups, investors and the media to take a closer look at what those manufacturing supply chains look like in ever-greater detail. This was not what businesses bargained for when it pushed offshore beyond domestic stakeholder’s eyes into low-cost developing countries, and many have been understandably nervous with calls for change.

It has taken 20 years for marketplace stakeholders to gain even a glimpse into apparel supply chains still riddled with risk and uncertainty. Over the same time, our understanding of the fallout of toxins in supply chains on our health and well-being has evolved.

The outcry at the human toll from factory fires and accidents at sub-par facilities around the world has slowly but surely pushed industry leaders onto the bandwagon of change. This comes amidst renewed calls for greater levels of regulatory transparency into consumer product supply chains. The prospects look promising.

Across the country last month, Worldvision Canada sought to call attention to the fact that Canadians know little about the risks of child labour embedded in the clothes and food we consume on a daily basis. Many in the ethics field argue that this stems from our expectation that business and government have dealt effectively with these issues, managing risks and unsavory origins from the market. We expect that companies earn the public’s trust and a ‘license to operate’ in good faith simply by being here in our markets, administered by order and good government, beholden to the public and the law.

More often than not however, the law has been turned to serve the interests of those who are least interested in transparency to silence critics or withhold information from the marketplace. Organizations seek, on the one hand, to hold themselves up as examples of corporate responsibility while on the other applying legal force to shut out transparency, the sunlight which U.S. Justice Louise Brandeis called “the best of all disinfectants.” And the laws we respect here at home hold little if any power over the actions of homegrown firms as they operate overseas.

As we again approach April 24, it is rewarding to know that there are thousands of individuals working at brands, retailers, auditing firms, NGOs, unions and government bodies across the world to make creative consumer industries more responsible, or “less bad” in terminology borrowed from the cradle-to-cradle crowd. These are laudable efforts but for the most part we are tinkering with the current system.

A true Fashion Revolution is what is needed and what has been called for. This call has come most vocally to date from across the Atlantic. U.K. ethical industry pioneers like Carry Somers, Orsola de Castro and Safia Minney, journalist Lucy Siegle, activist Tansy Hoskins and designers from Katharine Hamnett to Vivienne Westwood have challenged industry, consumers and government alike to re-think and re-imagine the business of fashion.

An industry struggle to identify and align with outliers is now underway at many brands. Others in the media have already tilted toward applauding a wholesale industry conversion to a sustainable future as a sure thing. But having spent 20 years working at brands and retailers on the business side of sourcing and procurement I am somewhat more cynical. Cost and commercial considerations still rule 95 percent of all decisions and few brands have yet successfully embedded sustainability and ethical practices deep into their strategic business plans and buying practices.

The wealth of information coming to light with regards to how global apparel supply chains negatively impact people and the planet also confronts us with compelling moral questions. Near everything we consume as individuals is tied to the exploitation of other people, of nature, or of both.

Certainly some forms of it are near-benign or might be called voluntary, but far too much of what happens in the offshore apparel world remains out of sight and beyond the ability of most people to make an informed decision. If they were aware or not, the end result is the same. We have all been converted into fully culpable participants of globalized, systemic exploitation for the benefit of maintaining our standards of living and social safety nets while generating multibillion dollar profits for a small minority of the millions of industry stakeholders who bring us our clothing every day.

Deconstructing and re-engineering such a system requires more than simply the vision to do so, it requires extraordinary leadership. Who exactly might take up the cause of ethical, sustainable fashion in this country is anyone’s guess at the moment but few from industry institutions would seem to have their hands up. With any luck, we won’t have to look much further than the next generation of aspiring industry professionals like those from Ryerson, eager to challenge the status quo and to re-prioritize the intrinsic values which textiles and apparel can offer us.

Michael Lavergne is a Responsible Supply Chain professional with 20 years of multinational experience at organizations from Sara Lee/Champion to Joe Fresh and WRAP. His new book, “FIXING FASHION; Rethinking the way we make, market and buy our clothes,” is out in the U.S. and Canada this September with New Society Publishers.

BB to create $500m green fund for textile

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The central bank will set aside $500 million of low-cost funds for textile factories to help them adopt eco-friendly technologies and practices, Governor Atiur Rahman said yesterday.

The money will come in addition to the existing export development fund (EDF) of $1.5 billion and will be named Green EDF, he told a discussion at the office of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh in Dhaka.

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PRI organised the discussion on “access to finance: environmental sustainability in the textile sector” in association with the International Finance Corporation.

Rahman came up with the decision instantly after a number of bankers and economists stressed the need for such a fund for the textile sector.

At present, Bangladesh Bank is offering the EDF to exporters at a rate of LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) plus 2.5 percent for six months. An exporter can borrow a maximum of $15 million in foreign currency.

“The criteria for accessing the fund by the wet processing units, which are also export-oriented or providing supplies to the garment sector, should be considered in view of the overall sustainability of the textile sector,” said Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of PRI.

At the seminar, he presented a paper, which he prepared in association with Ifty Islam, managing partner of AT Capital.

Mansur said inefficient resource use and poor environmental practices are major challenges for the textile sector. The textile factories in Dhaka currently consume 1,500 billion litres of groundwater annually to produce five million tonnes of fabric, with every kg of fabric gobbling up 300 litres against the global standard of 100 litres per kg of fabric.

Mansur said making funds available does not guarantee that entrepreneurs would use the resources.

“Education and awareness is important. Besides, customs and supplementary duties should be eliminated for importing cleaner technology equipment and machinery.”

The BB governor said the country’s garment sector would not be able to reach the $50 billion export target by 2021 without adopting green technologies.

Rahman called for a separate allocation in the budget to promote green financing in the textile sector. “Budgetary allocation makes it possible to provide low-cost funds.”

The BB chief said the progress in the textile sector has also brought in multiple challenges in urban expansion, land use, workplace safety and environmental safeguards.

For example, textile dyeing and finishing units in Bangladesh are known to be hugely wasteful in water usage as they consume five times the best practice benchmark.

The toxic discharges of the industry pollute both surface and ground water which has serious consequences for all living beings.

“Long-term sustainability of the industry greatly lies in its ability to produce green textile products mainly due to growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products,” the governor said.

Rahman also said a green development policy should be incorporated into the next five-year plan of the country.

Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, said with an initial investment of $100,000, his company was able to reduce wastage of water, energy, steam, dye and chemical worth $500,000 within a year. “So, it is a matter of mindset. It is not a big deal.”

Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said environmental sustainability is very important for the country’s mid- and long-term development.

“The country will be able to raise its garment exports to $50 billion by 2021 if the factories are eco-friendly.”

Ifty Islam said environmental sustainability has become a central point of China’s five-year plan although the country is infamous for environmental pollution. “We will have to do the same.”

Faruque Hassan, a former vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manu-facturers and Exporters Association, said the factories need financial support from the government and price support from buyers to go for eco-friendly practices.

Abrar Anwar, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, said financing would not be available for factories if they are not eco-friendly.

Mamun Rashid, chairman of Financial Excellence Ltd, and Mrinal Sircar, programme manager of Bangladesh Water PaCT, also spoke.

** This article first appeared on the Daily Star here.

New requirements for certification in accordance with STeP by Oeko-Tex

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The new requirements for the certification of environmentally friendly and socially responsible production facilities in accordance with STeP by Oeko-Tex are applicable as of 1 April.

Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) is the new Oeko-Tex certification system for brands, retail companies and manufacturers from the textile chain. Certification is possible for production facilities of all processing stages. From July 2013 on, STeP replaced the previous certification of production sites according to Oeko-Tex Standard 1000.

Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) certification system by Oeko-Tex. © Oeko-Tex

“The interest in STeP goes well beyond the penetration we saw in what was known as the Oeko-Tex Standard 1000, which was the precursor to STeP. We expect the acceptance of STeP to rise, particularly as we include many suggestions from our customers in the new edition of the STeP standard, which will be published on 1 April 2015,” said David Pircher, a Business Development Manager, Oeko-Tex.

Waste water criteria

In the future, production sites certified in accordance with STeP must comply with new criteria relating to their waste water. The following values are applicable:

Parameter                                                                                 Limit Value

FOA                                                                        μg/l                        50

PFOS                                                                      μg/l                        10

Nonylphenol (AP)                                                μg/l                        0.1

Octylphenol (AP)                                                 μg/l                        0.3

Nonylphenolethoxylate (APEO)                       μg/l                        1

Octylphenolethoxylate (APEO)                        μg/l                        1

Ethically correct behaviour

With immediate effect, chapter 4.5.13 of the STeP standard requires all employees to comply with ethically correct behaviour.

Therefore, companies must provide their employees with a written Code of Conduct, which defines the ethical principles of the company and lists corresponding specific directives. Oeko-Tex will also establish a neutral point of contact for employee complaints from STeP certified production sites.

With regard to the purchase of feathers and down used in bedding or clothing manufacturing, STeP certified companies are required to obtain their raw materials from suppliers who can prove they do not adopt practices, such as live plucking and/or forced feeding. Oeko-Tex recommends that companies obtain proof from the suppliers by means of independent evidence, such as the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).

Social responsibility

The STeP criteria for the company area of Social Responsibility have also been modified. To exclude the worst forms of child labour, STeP certified companies must, in the future, also be able to provide evidence of compliance with ILO standard C182.

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If the employees of STeP certified companies receive additional donations from their employers, it must be clearly documented. Medical investigations required by law, for example, HIV tests, are not categorised by the STeP standard as discriminatory, but must be documented and monitored.

All forms of slavery and forced labour, such as Sumangali, which is practised in India, are categorically excluded. In addition, workers and salaried employees may use the toilets, drink water, and take a break at any time within the extent prescribed by law without fearing any disciplinary action.

Banned chemicals and processes

Banned processes that have a very negative influence on the environment and occupational health and safety will now be listed in Appendix D4 of the STeP standard – Banned Chemicals and Processes. Two new processes have also been included in the list of excluded processes. These are:

  • Sandblasting for the treatment of jeans and other articles. Excluded from the ban are closed systems, provided that the dust emissions at the workplace do not exceed the limit value specified in Appendix G07 of the STeP standard.
  • The use of thickening agents based on aromatic hydrocarbons for textile printing.

Production waste

The guidelines for production waste have been modified in the new STeP standard so that appropriate storage areas must be provided immediately to ensure that, wherever possible, pollution of the immediate environment and groundwater is excluded.

This also specifies that the storage of production waste must be protected from external weather conditions and from fire. The objective for production companies is to ensure that the storage of production waste has no effect whatsoever on the environment.

Chemicals management

In the area of Chemicals Management, the list of banned and regulated substances for the manufacture of textiles (MRSL, Manufacturing Restricted Substances List) has been updated. The detailed changes are shown in Appendix D3 of the new STeP standard.

Exclusionary criteria

Aside from the points already mentioned, the list of exclusionary criteria was also expanded to include other aspects.

This includes, for example, the specifications that each employee must receive a written employment contract, that the company ensures specific workplace conditions for young employees and that the payment of deposits for the recruitment of new employees is not permitted.

The STeP standard can now also be applied to production companies for accessory parts for textile manufacture with immediate effect.

** This post and the images are sourced through here.

Get The Big Picture on Organic Cotton Agriculture

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Textile Exchange introduces the Organic Cotton Sustainability Assessment Tool (OC-SAT)

What does it do?

– A framework for assessing the environmental, economic and social impacts of organic cotton agriculture.

– Insight into the sustainability status of farmers certified to one or more of the internationally accepted organic agricultural standards.
– Builds on the findings in the recently published Organic Cotton Life Cycle Assessment (download here).

– Shows how farmers are successfully diversifying their crops, organizing their farming communities and supporting female farmers. Also reveals the challenges farmers face including pricing and payment, climate change, and lack of access to non-genetically modified seed.

To download a pdf version of the Organic Cotton Sustainability Assessment Tool, please click here.

**This post first appeared on Textile Exchange.