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Marks & Spencer to Eliminate Hazardous Chemicals from Clothing

Marks & SpencerAmsterdam – Fashion retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) has made a breakthrough commitment (1) on October 24 to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals throughout their entire supply chain and products by 2020, in response to the Greenpeace “Detox” Campaign.

“This commitment from M&S sets a new benchmark and they join H&M in showing real leadership on the issue of toxic water pollution. The onus is now on other brands to step up and take ambitious action to Detox that matches the urgency of the situation,” said Martin Hojsik, Detox Campaign Coordinator at Greenpeace International.

As part of this commitment, M&S has taken an important step to phase out all PFCs (Perfluorinated Compounds) by no later than 1 July 2016, acknowledging that the entire chemical group – which is used in stain and water resistant clothing – is hazardous.

“As a significant user of PFCs, M&S’s move to eliminate this chemical group entirely sends a clear message to the textile industry that it is time to phase out this hazardous and hormone disrupting group of chemicals and replace it with safe alternatives. The same needs to also happen with all other hazardous chemicals,” said Hojsik.

M&S is the seventh brand to commit to eliminate releases of all hazardous chemicals throughout the supply chain and products. As a part of the commitment M&S is reinforcing the ban on APEOs (2), and pledges to set further short term elimination timelines for other priority hazardous chemicals. M&S has also committed to become more transparent and will start by releasing discharge data from five of their Chinese suppliers.

“Fashion brands are responsible for poisoning waterways around the world with hazardous chemicals and treating our public waterways like private sewers,” said Hojsik. “We welcome M&S’s commitment to eliminate releases of hazardous chemicals more transparently and will be following the implementation in China closely.”

Ma Jun, Director of Institute of respected Chinese NGO Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing (IPE) welcomed M&S’ commitment.

“We noticed in M&S’s commitment made to Greenpeace, M&S stated that it would promote some of its suppliers to disclose discharge data on IPE’s online platform. We welcome this commitment and we consider it a positive step forward,” said Ma Jun.

In 2011, Greenpeace identified links between a number of major clothing brands and textile factories in China that are releasing hazardous chemicals into the rivers. Greenpeace is campaigning to stop pollution of water with chemicals by demanding that companies and governments take action to “Detox” the future.


(1) The M&S commitment can be viewed here: http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/media/press_releases/new_chemical_commitments

(2) Commonly used alkylphenol compounds include nonylphenols (NPs) and octylphenols and their ethoxylates, particularly nonylphenol ethoxylates. NPs are heavily regulated in Europe and since 2005 there has been an EU-wide ban on major applications.

Source: Greenpeace.