14 years after the release of the first online positive list for safe chemicals, bluesign technologies has launched the latest generation of the bluesign® bluefinder(pat.). This patented platform has already amassed more than 7’500 “bluesign® approved” chemicals.
Peter Waeber, CEO of bluesign technologies says “2020 is now – you can use the ‘bluesign® approved’ products for your chemical change management to detox the supply chain today. With the comprehensive range in the bluesign® bluefinder(pat.) all possible colors and common finishes are possible! Including more than 60 alternatives to PFCs! Additionally a recommendation for every single chemical product for the various possible end-uses is given – this is an absolutely unique feature of the bluesign® bluefinder(pat.). It makes a huge difference if a chemical is used for babywear or a tent”.
The chemicals that are in the bluesign® bluefinder(pat.) originate from the most sustainably acting chemical companies around the world. To get a chemical certified, a chemical company has to undergo a bluesign® audit followed by a corrective action plan to fulfill the bluesign® criteria for production sites. Only after implementing the necessary steps to fulfill the bluesign® criteria for chemical companies is a certification of a chemical product possible.
The key for a chemical assessment is a perfectly installed Product Stewardship Program to get all necessary data in an accurate and correct form. “It is well known to all stakeholders in this industry that a simple chemical test or a ‘Safety Data Sheet’ doesn’t fulfill the minimum criteria for a chemical assessment!” says Peter Waeber. A fully functioning “Product Stewardship Program” is the only way for a robust and systemic approach to get a constant quality (lot by lot – day by day) which is key to fulfill the sustainability and environmental requirements of all stakeholders in the supply chain.
“There is no shortcut to detox the supply chain – our long experience proves that a ‘bluesign® light version’ doesn’t work at all. With the new bluesign® bluefinder(pat.) we are ready for the next generation of chemical assessment. In 2017 we will launch for our chemical system partners a new release of the bluesign® bluetool(pat.) that will consider the latest technology for risk assessments including the requirements of e.g. REACH, GHS etc. The new bluesign® bluefinder(pat.) contains these functions already to be prepared for the future”, says Peter Waeber.
The bluesign® bluetool(pat.) was developed in 2001 and equips a chemical designer or at the end the whole textile industry with a comprehensive and safe instrument to fulfill not only consumer safety aspects but also to reduce the impact to the environment. The precautionary system inside the bluesign® bluetool(pat.) contains more than 680 banned chemical substances – this is much more than the largest MRSL from NGOs or brands. In clear words; all end-of-pipe aspects that are relevant for the textile and related industry are completely covered.
Background information bluesign technologies ag
The bluesign® system is the solution for a sustainable textile production. It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly, safe and resource efficient production. This not only ensures that the final textile product meets very stringent consumer safety requirements worldwide but also provides confidence to the consumer to acquire a sustainable product. bluesign technologies ag was founded in 2000. Since then, the bluesign® system has been adopted by worldwide leading textile and accessory manufacturers. Various significant key players of the chemical and machine industry rely on the bluesign® system. And well-known brands of the outdoor, sportswear and fashion industry depend on the extensive knowledge of bluesign technologies.
*This story first appeared on bluesign
Since 2013, Greenpeace’s “Detox” campaign against apparel companies successfully has catalyzed new approaches to eliminate hazardous chemicals from products and supply chains. It’s not just activist pressure, but also the desire within the industry to do good, that is driving the reduction of hazards in everything from children’s clothing to sportswear.
Efforts to reduce hazardous chemicals and environmental pollution in the manufacturing supply chain include the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, the Outdoor Industry Association’s Chemicals Management Module and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals’ Roadmap to Zero.
Traditionally, such efforts have centered around Restricted Substance Lists, which have been used in the textile industry since the late 1990s. They contain restricted chemicals that are usually, but not always regulated. These chemicals can be used in manufacturing and be present in consumer products, as long as the amount is not greater than the allowable limit.
The RSL is a tool to help brands meet regulatory compliance requirements and is typically implemented in three steps:
1. Establish the allowable limit in the product.
2. Train and educate manufacturers to implement the RSL.
3. Verify through product testing.
Because restricted chemicals may be used in manufacturing, there is always the possibility that hazardous chemicals may end up in discharge water.
A fundamental shift to ‘input chemistry’
Today, however, a sea change is placing greater emphasis on managing input chemistry rather than treating effluent. Hazardous chemicals are eliminated at the beginning of the supply chain before they enter the manufacturing facility. This prevents the need to clean up waste water and toxic pollution.
Some tools, such as bluesign, have been available for several years, while others are just being introduced, and some chemical companies are seizing the opportunity to lead in the marketplace.
The initiatives below are gaining wider acceptance and use:
The bluesign system is a standard for environmental health and safety in the manufacture of textiles. It was developed in Switzerland 15 years ago and is gaining momentum with chemical suppliers, manufacturers and brands.
Bluesign works with chemical suppliers to ensure their formulations meet strict requirements. Production sites are audited and a set of guidelines must be met prior to a chemical supplier selling “bluesign certified” formulations. Approved bluesign partners regularly report their continuous improvement and progress in energy, water and chemical usage, and are subject to on-site audits. Many large global chemical suppliers including Huntsman, Archroma, CHT and Dyestar are bluesign partners and produce bluesign-compliant formulations.
Bluesign chemicals are available for all stages of textile production, from spinning to garment manufacturing. This enables brands and manufacturing facilities to make smarter and safer choices.
Bluesign assesses and assigns chemicals to one of three categories:
1. Blue: safe to use
2. Gray: special handling required
3. Black: forbidden
The bluesign system helps factories manage “gray” chemicals and replace “black” chemicals with safer alternatives.
Manufacturing Restricted Substance List
An MRSL differs from a Restricted Substance List (RSL) because it restricts hazardous substances potentially used and discharged into the environment during manufacturing, not just those substances that could be present in finished products. The MRSL addresses any chemical used within the four walls of a manufacturing plant, including those used to make products and clean equipment and facilities.
The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals group developed and published an MRSL with input from key stakeholders including brands and chemical companies. ZDHC developed one MRSL for the apparel industry. This benefits brands, manufacturers and chemical companies because they only have to adhere to a single set of criteria with the same chemical restrictions, limits and test methods.
Chemical companies are in the process of developing a list of MRSL-compliant formulations that adhere to the strict limits placed on a given chemical formulation rather than the finished product.
CHEM-IQ is a chemical management tool released by the VF Corporation. Developed in collaboration with third-party experts, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, CHEM-IQ provides a proactive, cost-effective method for identifying and eliminating potentially harmful chemicals before they enter manufacturing.
Samples from chemical formulations are tested in a lab for the presence of about 400 hazardous chemicals. If any are present above a certain limit, VF works with its supply chain to determine an action plan to move towards safer alternatives.
In addition to the tools and certification systems described above, two small textile chemical formulators, Garmon Chemicals and Beyond Surface Technologies, are also adopting a “front of the pipe” approach.
Garmon’s conscious chemistry
Innovative Italian chemical company Garmon Chemicals has taken an interesting approach in how it assesses, manages and chooses chemical ingredients in its formulations. It recently announced a partnership with Turkish mill Orta denim and Clean Production Action’s GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals.
Garmon incorporates GreenScreens into its raw materials assessment. GreenScreen chemical assessments are based on the hazard profile of a chemical rather than the risk profile. All intentionally added ingredients are screened and assigned a GreenScreen score. Chemicals scored as “Benchmark 1” (to avoid as a chemical of high concern) are not accepted in any formulation. This approach helps Garmon prioritize efforts to find safer alternatives.
The company has developed a range of specialty chemicals called “environmentally conscious chemistry” using GreenScreen as an inspiration for innovation. Garmon has positioned GreenScreen as a platform to develop products for the eco-conscious consumer who demands transparency.
Particularly impressive, Garmon has eliminated potassium permanganate and sodium hypochlorite, two cheap commodity chemicals used to bleach indigo denim. It replaced them with their Avol Oxy White, which provides a similar visual effect.
The advantages of environmentally conscious chemistry include the capability to:
1. Establish long-term partnerships across industries and co-create new capabilities.
2. Drive science and design, with the goal of developing new aesthetics.
3. Trigger healthy changes throughout the manufacturing supply chain that injects “premium” and “sustainable” and “quality” and “integrity” as operational guiding principles in the garment industry.
Beyond Surface Technologies
BST, a small and innovative chemical company, has a different approach to assessing its raw materials. It selects raw materials with either the highest possible content of bio-based carbon (PDF) or materials approved for use in the personal care or food industry, so that it does not need to worry about contaminants and impurities. If it is safe enough to eat or put on your skin, it is safe enough to be used in apparel.
As these examples indicate, the textile industry is making progress in reducing environmental pollution in the textile supply chain by focusing on the management of input chemistry. Stronger partnerships among brands, manufacturers and chemicals companies; a more rigorous approach towards the elimination of hazardous chemicals; and innovating to find safer alternatives to chemicals of concern are moving the needle towards safer consumer products within cleaner supply chains.
** This article first appeared on GreenBiz.com here.
NEW YORK, March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — EILEEN FISHER is taking a stand for sustainable business practices by announcing its new VISION2020 campaign, a bold new plan detailing the steps the brand will take over the course of the next five years toward reaching a goal of 100% sustainability. The brand will launch a national advertising campaign announcing its efforts, which will be supported through social media, PR, online, and their retail stores. Known for its commitment to responsible and eco-friendly business practices, EILEEN FISHER will outline the steps they will take over these next five years to work towards that goal in eight important categories: materials, chemistry, water, carbon, conscious business practices, fair wages & benefits, worker voice, and worker & community happiness.
“To create a truly responsible supply chain, we need to scrutinize everything we do, from the field to the factory to the landfill,” said Candice Reffe, Co-Creative Officer. “We need to take a hard look at what’s often swept under the rug — toxins, carbon emissions, and low worker pay, to name a few. It won’t be easy. We’ll need the help of our customers, our manufacturing partners, and like-minded brands. And we’ll do it with two simple words: no excuses.”
The brand plans to continue on its path toward fiber sustainability by using only organic cotton and linen in its clothing by 2020. Additionally, the brand plans to use only wool from sheep that are humanely raised on sustainable farms, and swap Tencel® for rayon. To improve its use of color, the brand will be continuing its partnership with bluesign® technologies working toward responsible chemical, water, and energy usage. By the year 2020, roughly 30% of all EILEEN FISHER items will be bluesign® certified. Further, the brand plans to reach out to other fashion labels to create demand for responsible dyes in an attempt to establish a new industry norm. To reverse the global resource consumption trend, the brand is pledging to use less water, emitting less carbon, and producing less fabric waste, as well as investing in alternative energy. In five years, EILEEN FISHER, Inc. pledges that its US operations won’t just be carbon neutral — they’ll be carbon positive.
The campaign isn’t just about energy and resources — from investing in alternative supply chains that pay fair wages to creating investment programs like The Handloom Project in rural communities — the brand is also committed to improving the livelihoods of the workers in its supply chain. In an effort to ensure only the finest natural materials are used in the best conditions, the EILEEN FISHER will also be mapping its global supply chain, investigating suppliers, factories, spinners, and mills and posting the progress for fans of the brand to follow online. Finally, EILEEN FISHER is pledging to continue its work to reuse clothing and reduce waste with its clothing recycling program. By 2020, the program is expected to hit 1 million recycled items, which the brand will resell. Those items that can’t be resold will be turned into raw material for new textiles or fashioned into new clothes. With its newly laid out goals, the brand hopes to work towards total sustainability, and envisions a world in which waste is a thing of the past.
About EILEEN FISHER:
EILEEN FISHER has been creating effortlessly chic clothes for the past 30 years. Designed with pure shapes and fine fabrics, the collections offer sophistication, comfort and style that lasts. As a socially conscious company, EILEEN FISHER is a pioneer in eco-friendly fashion and in supporting global initiatives that empower women and girls. The clothing is sold at more than 60 EILEEN FISHER retail stores in the US, Canada and the UK, as well as at major department stores and eileenfisher.com
This post originally appeared here.