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The future will be Green – H&M
Sep '11
Fast fashion retail giant Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) committed to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals from all production processes associated with the manufacture of its products by 2020 at the latest, following pressure from Greenpeace.

H&M's decision comes after a week of activists in 12 countries urging the company to come clean by attaching “Detox our future!” stickers to H&M's shop-windows, and online activists around the world calling on the brand to commit to a toxic-free future. H&M, the world's second biggest clothing retailer, now joins Nike, Adidas and Puma as major international brands that have met Greenpeace's criteria for “Detoxing” their supply chains.

“By committing to 'Detox' its supply chain, H&M is not only setting the trend for this season and the future; it also sends a clear message to other brands that using toxic chemicals to make our clothing is no longer in vogue”, said Marietta Harjono, Toxic Campaigner at Greenpeace International. “H&M's landmark commitment has the potential to be a catalyst for wider change across the fashion industry”.

“H&M must now use its size and influence to lead the entire fashion industry towards a toxic-free future, by working with other committed brands to bring about cross-industry and systemic change,” continued Harjono. “Other big brands who have yet to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals risk losing the trust of their customers, and future business opportunities in key markets such as China, if they continue their polluting practices,” she added.

The “Detox” campaign began when Greenpeace investigations revealed links between major fashion brands, including H&M, and factories that were found to be discharging a range of hazardous chemicals into rivers in China. Further research also revealed that branded clothing from 14 international companies, including H&M, contained nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) that break down into the toxic, persistent and hormone disrupting nonylphenol (NP).

As part of its commitment, H&M has agreed to address the principle of the "right to know" by ensuring public disclosure of all chemicals being released from its suppliers' factories, releasing the first data by the end of 2012.

“In countries such as China where we have hundreds of thousands of people living near factories, but not knowing what toxic and often invisible chemicals are being discharged into local water supplies, H&M's commitment to publicly disclose pollution information is the start of something truly important,” commented Yifang Li, Toxic campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia.

“We will be following H&M's implementation closely and strongly encourage Chinese brands to follow this trend towards greater transparency, as people have a right to know this information,” Li concluded.

H&M's commitment comes just ten weeks after the launch of Greenpeace's “Detox” campaign, which mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to successfully convince sportswear leaders Nike, Adidas and Puma to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals from across their entire supply chains and product lifecycles by 2020.

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