Benetton Group is the latest global apparel company to join Greenpeace’s Detox Program. The Italy-based retailer, which operates 6,500 stores in 120 countries, is another coup for Greenpeace. With its commitment to eliminate the release of toxic chemicals into water supplies and out of factories, Benetton joins apparel firms including Nike, Puma, Marks & Spencer and Zara.
Similar to other fashion companies who have signed Greenpeace’s pledge, Benetton promises to end the release of hazardous chemicals throughout the company’s global supply chain by 2020. This latest move by Benetton follows on the heels of other changes to which the company committed in recent years, including the switch to liquid wood clothes hangars, more eco-friendly white kraft paper bags printed with only water-based ink, reduced packaging and the increased monitoring of emissions throughout its operations.
As is the case with many global companies, such changes will not occur overnight. Nevertheless, Benetton is moving quickly and will soon publicly disclose the chemicals applied throughout its supply chain while phasing out their use. By April, the company promises to publish a more updated “restricted substances list.” Benetton will also instruct suppliers that APEOs (alkylphenol ethoxylates), commonly found in detergents and other chemicals textile and leather processing companies use, must be replaced with safer alternatives by June. The company will also eliminate other toxins such as perfluorocarbon (PFC) and will update its chemical use policy to ban the use of new chemicals as new evidence about their impacts become available.
Seven years may appear to be a long time, but revamping a company’s tangled supply chain is often an arduous process. With such companies as Adidas experimenting with waterless drying techniques while H&M and Marks & Spencer are among companies that launched clothes recycling programs, the fashion industry in general has made impressive steps the past couple years. And now with Benetton the latest company to impose stricter manufacturing standards on how their clothes are made, watch for other holdouts within the fashion industry to join this movement as sustainability becomes a competitive, not inconvenient, issue.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India next month with the International Reporting Project.
[Image credit: Benetton Group]