Updated Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) Now Includes Leather

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The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme released an update to the Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) to now include leather. The MRSL Version 1.1 was developed by the ZDHC apparel and footwear brands in close collaboration with third-party technical experts and global industry associations.

“The ZDHC MRSL Version 1.1 provides brands and suppliers with a harmonised approach to managing chemicals during raw material processing,” said ZDHC Executive Director Frank Michel. “Collaborating with leading technical experts allowed us to develop this synchronised approach and advance our long-term goal of zero discharge. ZDHC brands will be communicating MRSL Version 1.1 information to their raw material supply chain and factories assembling or manufacturing garments and footwear, and expect them to communicate directly with their chemical suppliers so that the listed substances are not present in chemical formulations above established MRSL limits,” he added.

The ZDHC MRSL Version 1.1 includes chemicals used in facilities that process materials and trim parts for use in apparel and footwear. These chemicals include solvents, cleaners, adhesives, paints, inks, detergents, dyes, colourants, auxiliaries, coatings and finishing agents used during raw material production, wet-processing, maintenance, wastewater treatment, sanitation and pest control.

The MRSL Version 1.1 establishes concentration limits for these substances that are designed to eliminate the possibility of intentional use of listed substances. The list will assist brands, organisations throughout supply chains and the broader industry in phasing out/substituting h

azardous substances potentially used and discharged into the environment during manufacturing and related processes.

To support raw material suppliers, including wet-processing facilities, subcontractors and factories assembling or manufacturing garments and footwear transitioning to this new chemical guidance, the ZDHC Programme is accompanying the release of the MRSL Version 1.1 with supplier guidance, support materials and training.


In 2011, the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme formed to catalyse positive change in the discharge of hazardous chemicals across the product life cycle.

In 2015, the ZDHC Foundation was established as a standalone legal entity based in Amsterdam to strengthen the organisation as well as the ZDHC Programme.

The coalition now includes signatory brands – adidas Group, Benetton Group, Burberry Group PLC, C&A, Esprit, F&F, G-Star Raw C.V., Gap Inc., H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Li Ning, L Brands, M&S, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., NIKE, Inc., Primark, PUMA SE and PVH Corp., a growing number of associate including the Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry (BSI), European Outdoor Group (EOG), Everlight Chemical, GermanFashion Modeverband Deutschland e.V, JINTEX Group, PolyOne, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and a diverse group of stakeholders with whom we engage regularly.

For more information on the ZDHC Programme, please visit:

Update to ZDHC Joint Roadmap Focuses on Implementation

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Image: ZDHC

The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme today released an update to the Group’s Joint Roadmap. Initially released in 2011, the roadmap included a preliminary work plan to organise and set a path towards addressing the challenge of zero discharge by 2020. Based on lessons learned during implementation, subsequent updates have refined and focused ZDHC efforts to drive momentum towards zero discharge.

Now in its fourth year, the ZDHC Group is 19 brand members and 7 associate members strong and is poised to apply and implement tools developed through the Joint Roadmap. This stage of collaborative evolution moves the group clearly from the development of foundational tools into the territory of tool implementation.

“The updated Joint Roadmap is a clear and strategic effort to tightly focus programme efforts and resources,” said Frank Michel, ZDHC Executive Director. “Transitioning from seven workstreams into four focus areas will support all elements of the supply chain in adopting improved chemical management practices. From technical and organizational perspectives, we have made significant strides in the past year, including releasing the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List and Audit Protocols, establishing a standalone ZDHC legal entity based in Amsterdam and effectively strengthening the organisation as well as the ZDHC Programme. This Joint Roadmap update builds on ZDHC successes to date and defines the path forward for the next five years,” he added.

To achieve zero discharge, four focus areas are identified as critical to moving towards our zero discharge mission. These areas complement and amplify the work of other industry associations and non-governmental organisations and recognise the imperative nature of collaboration to tackle textile industry challenges. These areas are:

  • Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) and Implementation Conformity – Includes two primary tracks of work, updates to the MRSL and effective engagement to promote adherence to MRSL chemical use restrictions.
  • Research – Actively engages with academia and the industry to encourage research into the development of safer alternatives and to conduct research on priority chemicals.
  • Audit Protocol – Works to harmonise audit tool with SAC, finalise the audit conformance process and engage industry groups to promote adoption of the audit tools.
  • Wastewater Quality – Intends to minimise chemical pollutants discharged into the environment through good process controls and effective chemicals management by developing wastewater quality guidance (guidelines).
  • Data and disclosure and training programmes will support implementation and dissemination of guidance developed across all focus areas and as such are identified as cross cutting themes.

As always, the ZDHC Programme aims to eliminate or substitute priority hazardous chemicals in products and their manufacture; apply a transparent screening process to promote and support safer chemistry; implement common tools, best practices and training that advance chemical stewardship; partner with stakeholders to promote chemical use and discharge transparency; promote scaling of best practices through engagement with key stakeholders.

**This story is a part of the communication outreach by ZDHC group.

How the apparel industry is cleaning up textiles

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By Amanda Cattermole

Image Source: Shutterstock The industry is increasingly cleaning up chemicals at the beginning of the supply chain, including in textile dyes and on the factory floor. High-pressure cotton dyeing equipment is shown above.
Image Source: Shutterstock
The industry is increasingly cleaning up chemicals at the beginning of the supply chain, including in textile dyes and on the factory floor. High-pressure cotton dyeing equipment is shown above.

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.

Restricted substances

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.

Patagonia is so impressed, it recently invested in BST through its 20 Million and Change Fund to help BST expand to other functional finishes for textiles, such as water repellency.

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 here.

ZDHC Group Presents Milestone Achievements Towards Zero Discharge

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Released today, the ZDHC Group’s 2014 Annual Report presents tangible progress towards leading the textile industry to improved environmental responsibility. The Group continued to develop and deploy tools designed to assist dye houses, chemical suppliers, other brands and key stakeholders to adopt ambitious chemical management standards including a landmark Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) and chemicals management training curriculum for suppliers in Asia.

Highlights of accomplishments in 2014 include:

  • Developed and published the ZDHC MRSL for priority chemical phase out.
  • Provided MRSL training and developed chemical guidance sheets in six languages to assist mills and suppliers with the phase-out and substitution of substances restricted on the ZDHC MRSL.
  • Developed and published a framework for prioritising hazardous chemicals for elimination or substitution and a Research List of substances for which safer alternatives will be sought.
  • Prepared and conducted ZDHC Chemicals Management Training for suppliers in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and India.
  • Conducted and summarised key finding from 25 pilot audits across eight countries at wet processing facilities using the Environmental Audit Protocol, Version 1.0, some member brands began implementation using the protocol.
  • Formalised a ZDHC workstream specifically focused on the standards for data collection necessary to measure progress against ZDHC goals.
  • Continued collaboration with leading industry associations, including the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Outdoor Industry Association, Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), Leather Working Group (LWG), OEKO‑TEX®, bluesign® and Solidaridad to align tools and collaboration.
  • Continued engagement with key organisations in Bangladesh, China (including the China Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs [IPE], China Ministry of Environmental Protection [MEP] and the China National Textile and Apparel Council [CNTAC], India, Vietnam and Taiwan (Taiwan Textile Federation).
  • Conducted extensive research on chemical disclosure methodologies, issued the 2014 Right-to-Know Chemical Disclosure Methodology Research report and worked closely with the European Union Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) Commission and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on right to know.
  • Developed draft Chemical Management System Manual to assist brands, retailers, Tier 1 and 2 suppliers and chemical suppliers to improve chemical management and assist in moving towards zero discharge.

For more information, please contact Leticia Solaun at +001.352.384.7220 or

On behalf of ZDHC Group

adidas Group, Benetton Group S.p.A., Burberry Group PLC, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw C.V., Gap Inc., H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss & Co., Li Ning, L Brands, M&S, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., NIKE, Inc., PUMA SE and PVH Corp. in association with Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry (BSI), European Outdoor Group (EOG) GermanFashion Modeverband Deutschland e.V, Everlight Chemical, JINTEX Group and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).