Nike pledges to cut out hazardous chemicals

19th August 2011


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  • Supply chain

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IEMA

International sports brand Nike has committed itself removing all dangerous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020, after river pollution in China was traced to its suppliers.

Nike was one of 14 clothing companies, including designer Calvin Klein and high street fashion store H&M, named by Greenpeace in its “Dirty Laundry” report published last month.

The campaigning group’s investigation into the Chinese textiles industry profiled two facilities – one on the banks of the Yangtze and the other on the Pear River Delta – that were discharging chemicals hazardous to human health and the environment into watercourses.

Following commitments from its competitor Puma, which was also named in the report, Nike has now publicly committed itself to phasing out the use of dangerous chemicals throughout its supply chain as well as ensuring no such chemicals are released by its products throughout their lifecycle.

In a statement published this week the firm promises to work with other brands, suppliers and the chemical industry, and to dedicate “sustained investment” to finding green, safe alternatives.

“We recognise the path to reaching this goal must be through innovation, the application of green chemistry, and broad industry and regulatory collaboration and engagement,” it stated.

“Nike’s commitment and investment towards this goal and the dedication to system change is unwavering. We will work tirelessly to affect system change across the industry.”

The firm promises to publish an action plan describing how it intends to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals within eight weeks, including a timeline for the elimination of the chemicals it deems the highest priority.

Nike has also asked other clothing brands to collaborate with it to develop a sector-wide approach to the problem.

The announcement was hailed as a victory by Greenpeace, but the group warned the real challenge lay ahead.

"By committing to clean up its dirty laundry, Nike is showing real winning form, but Greenpeace will need to take a close look at its implementation plan before we know whether Nike has the makings of a true champion and if it is really serious about eliminating hazardous chemicals from its supply chain,” said Martin Hojsik, coordinator of the Toxic Water campaign at Greenpeace International.

Hojsik also took the opportunity to challenge Nike’s competitor Adidas to match Nike’s pledges.

“Adidas must kick-off its comeback by not only committing to zero discharge, but by also showing initiative and developing a new culture of transparency throughout the clothing industry about the hazardous chemicals currently released during manufacture," he said.

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