In December 2012, Esprit signed a commitment with the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to eliminate eleven classes of chemicals from the textile supply chain.
To help realize this commitment, we became an active member of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Group (ZDHC), working alongside other brands to develop the tools and protocols to empower the entire supply chain to achieve the long-term aim of the ZDHC Group’s ‘Roadmap to Zero’: Zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. In January 2017 and September 2017 we published reviews of our Detox Commitment, which gives an overview of what has already been achieved and outlines our targets for the future.
To fulfil our Detox Commitment, the first thing Esprit had to do was to map out our Tier 2 and we process supply chain. We do not place orders directly with these factories, and in the past we were not aware of the Tier 2 supply chain. That needed to change. In July 2016 we mapped for the first time the actual supply chain and established a process to update the mapping in an ongoing way, we are committed to publishing a new version on our website every six months. Find our most updated supplier list here.
We then began a series of one day audits at these wet-processes facilities, where the finishing processes of our products take place. These finishing processes have the biggest environmental impact during the production. In our audits we covered chemical management, process quality control, waste water management and solid waste. Around one third of our wet processes factories have been audited until June 2017. We continue our program and our target is to cover all wet processes facilities in the future.
What we discovered in the audits so far, was that while some factories manage chemicals and waste water in a way that allows them to fully support Esprit’s Detox Commitment, many factories had gaps in their systems. In a next step our team starts follow-up audits to check if corrective actions have taken place in the factories.
The first step to fulfill the Detox Commitment is the adoption of a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) which each supplier has been required to follow since 2013. At that time, we merged the MRSL together with our existing Restricted Substances List (RSL). The RSL defines the international requirements as well as our own standards beyond legal requirements that finished products and packaging must meet with regard to chemicals. Whereas the RSL focuses on the amount of restricted chemicals in the final Esprit product, the MRSL focuses on hazardous chemicals that have to be phased out from chemical formulations used during the manufacture of Esprit products. For an ongoing update of our RSL & MRSL beyond the ZDHC scope, we developed a methodology to evaluate chemicals that are used for the fabrication of our products. Our RSL & MRSL Supplier Guideline supports our suppliers in understanding and implementing the requirements.
Another important step happened in December 2014: Since then, we have eliminated poly- and perfluorinated carbons (PFCs) in the manufacturing process of our water-repellent products. PFCs are used for producing water-repellent surfaces on garments and decompose very slowly. They damage the environment and the health of people and animals. With ongoing testing we seek to ensure that the manufacturing process of all Esprit products remains free of PFC chemicals.
Control of waste water
Esprit adopted the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines in February 2016. The ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines have been adopted by most leading brands in the industry. By adopting those guidelines, rather than developing our own, Esprit is able to take advantage of experience across the industry and to allow our factories to work on one standard instead of a separate standard for each of their customers. The next step is that we require our suppliers to upload their waste water testing data on the IPE or ZDHC platforms by April 30, 2018. To support our suppliers, Esprit is cooperating with a third-party testing laboratory to develop a training and testing program. This program will provide factories with the training they need to manage chemicals and waste water treatment appropriately, and to have waste water testing done in compliance with the adopted Wastewater Testing Guideline by the ZDHC.