Nike sets date to eliminate toxic chemicals from supply chain

19 August 2011

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19 August 2011 | Angeline Albert

Global sportswear manufacturer Nike has pledged to work with its suppliers to remove hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020.

The announcement follows criticism from environmental campaigner Greenpeace in its DirtyLaundry report published in July, which revealed commercial links between major clothing brands and suppliers responsible for releasing hazardous chemicals used in the dyeing process into Chinese rivers.

The clothing group - which includes the Nike, Cole Haan, Converse, Hurley, and Umbro brands - said it will act to prevent the discharge of hazardous chemicals via its contract factories, material suppliers and dyeing and finishing facilities.

Nike had already started to phase out dangerous chemicals from its supply chain, but has now set a firm deadline and aims to “accelerate the phase-out of the highest priority hazardous chemicals”.

Nike will produce an action plan for eliminating hazardous chemicals within its supply chain in the next eight weeks, addressing transparency, chemical management and how it will share its experience with the sector.

“Nike will continue to work with brands, material suppliers, the broader chemical industry, NGOs and other stakeholders to achieve this goal. This commitment includes sustained investment in moving industry, government, science and technology to deliver on systemic change,” a company statement said.

The company also invited companies in the sector to collaborate with it. “Due to the highly complex and shared nature of supply chains, we invite others in our industry to co-create a broader action plan for the industry, as collaboration is critical to drive progress.”

Earlier this week, rival sports company Puma also promised to remove hazardous chemicals from production processes for its products by 2020. It added this would cover all tier-one suppliers within 18 months.

Greenpeace said in a statement: “We challenged these brands to champion a toxic-free future by committing to work with their suppliers and remove these toxic chemicals from their clothes and China's rivers. Puma was first to break away from the pack, opening up an impressive lead by announcing that it would go toxic-free. Puma's commitment to remove all hazardous chemicals from its entire product portfolio must have left their competition wondering how they were going to raise their game.”

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