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12 January 2013 | Adam Leach
Japanese clothing company Uniqlo has followed its competitors by pledging to eradicate toxic chemicals from its supply chain by 2020, the company has announced.
Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing, which also owns retailers Comptoir des Cotonniers and Theory, has taken the decision following a report by Greenpeace into the damaging effects that chemicals used in clothing factories have on local water supplies in South America. A number clothing manufacturers and retailers, including Levi's, Zara and Nike have already made the same pledge.
Yukihiro Nitta, group executive officer and executive in charge of corporate social responsibility at Fast Retailing, said: “Uniqlo recognises clean water as a critical global issue, and is proud to join Greenpeace in its campaign to eliminate hazardous chemical use.”
In a document outlining the pledge published this week, the company pledged “zero discharges of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of all products Fast Retailing sells by 1 January 2020”. In more immediate action it committed to publishing the discharges of hazardous chemicals at its 10 largest Chinese suppliers and 10 largest suppliers from other developing nations by May 2013.
Welcoming the announcement, Junichi Sato, executive director, Greenpeace Japan, said: “Uniqlo today becomes a global detox leader by committing to use and lead the development of alternatives to hazardous chemicals. This is a victory for local communities around the world affected daily by toxic water pollution.”
Other commitments include reviewing the science of chemicals used and updating the banned list at least once a year as new evidence becomes available and also to work with other clothing manufacturers to develop an industry wide solution.
The 12 companies who have signed the detox pledge can be found on the Greenpeace website here.