The apparel industry is breaking new ground by seeking to design out hazardous chemicals from its supply chain. Rather than having to manage the risks of chemicals to workers, communities, and to a brand’s bottom line, apparel companies are looking to use inherently safer chemicals in manufacturing. Coming under increasing global scrutiny from NGOs and consumers over how their clothes are made and the environmental impacts of manufacturing, the apparel industry has awakened to the reality of chemicals in its products and supply chains.
For the leading apparel and footwear brands committed to the zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals is a perfect fit. One of many tools employed by brands and leading chemical companies in their quest towards the use of safer chemicals, GreenScreen helps to prioritize the elimination of hazardous chemicals. Companies find value in GreenScreen because it:
- Is a scientifically robust, transparent, and hazard-based method.
- Simplifies the hazard assessment of a chemical into 4 Benchmark scores, making it easier to understand complex toxicity data.
- Is developed and maintained by an NGO.
These attributes are important to brands and companies that need to make informed chemical management choices.
Who Uses GreenScreen in Textiles and Apparel?
Since Greenpeace challenged global apparel brands to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020 with its DeTox campaign, we have seen an uptake in companies wanting to understand GreenScreen and how it can help them make informed chemical decisions. This has led to innovative uses of GreenScreen in the apparel industry.
Levi Strauss & Co Screened Chemistry
Levi Strauss & Co. has developed a Screened Chemistry program that assesses the environmental and human health impact of chemicals used in the garment finishing process to manufacture LS&Co. products.
The framework incorporates GreenScreen and the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Program to determine which chemical substances are best in class or better alternatives. Once a third-party toxicologist has assessed each chemical within a formulation, an overall weighted score is assigned to the formulation. Formulations that contain a Benchmark 3 or Benchmark 4 chemical substance (or full green circle on the U.S. EPA SCIL list) are considered preferred substances and will earn a higher score than formulations that contain, for example, Benchmark 1 substances. This scoring system allows Levi Strauss & Co. to create a preferred list of chemicals, work with chemical suppliers and garment manufacturers to eliminate chemicals of concern and gain more visibility into the chemicals used to manufacture its products. The framework also prioritizes the assessment of chemicals based on environmental and human health hazard endpoints and ultimately rewards chemical suppliers that choose chemicals that are best in class or better alternatives.
Garmon Chemical Company
Innovative chemical companies are looking to capture the new market opportunities created by changing demands from brands like LS&Co. For example, Garmon Chemicals, an Italian chemical company, is creating new formulations using inherently less hazardous chemicals for the finishing of denim jeans and other fashion items.
Garmon’s approach is to screen out chemicals of high concern in the design process using GreenScreen and the US EPA Safer Choice Program. Garmon’s assessed formulations contain no GreenScreen Benchmark 1 or List Translator 1. Using this framework, the company has reformulated or developed from scratch an entirely new suite of formulations that meet the needs of brands to create the vast array of denim styles consumers have come to expect, such as stone wash, light bleached finishes, and authentic worn products. One of Garmon’s most innovative products is avol oxy white, a bleaching agent used to obtain localized worn effects on denim.
Garmon Chemicals is now partnering with other major actors in the industry, such as Invista, owner of the Lycra® brand, which has created a collection of knit denim concept garments using fabrics made with its Lycra® Hybrid technology and finished with Garmon’s chemical formulations. Garmon is also working with chemical company giant Archroma and European mill Royo to develop a truly eco-conscious jean where all steps in the textile supply chain, from fiber choice to denim wash, have been produced using chemicals that have been assessed through the Garmon framework.
Leaders in Inherently Safer Chemicals
Thanks to leaders such as such as Levi Strauss and Co. and Garmon Chemicals, the creation of a list of positive chemical formulations that result from screening each ingredient will soon be just as important as developing and maintaining a list of restricted chemicals. The future is about disclosure, transparency, and hazard assessment rather than restricting chemicals and risk assessment. GreenScreen for Safer chemicals is poised to help companies transition down this new path.