Sustainable Supply Chains in Practice: Broad Alliance Removes 100 Chemicals from Textiles

Weaving loom

© Fotolia/Carsten Steps

The multi-stakeholder Partnership for Sustainable Textiles seeks to improve social and ecological conditions in the international garment industry. Its 188 members recently agreed to cease using 100 chemicals.

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles was founded in 2014 at the initiative of the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller. Its objective is to improve social and environmental conditions in international garment production.

Companies and business associations are committed

The partnership is a multi-stakeholder initiative with 188 members. Its members include companies and employers’ organisations as well as NGOs, trade unions, certification bodies, federal ministries, and other state institutions. Decisions are prepared by six working groups and adopted by a steering committee in which the industry’s interests are represented by the umbrella organisation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry (Gesamtverband der deutschen Textil- und Modeindustrie), the German Retail Federation (Handelsverband Deutschland), and two companies.

Phasing out 100 chemicals

Recently, the Partnership decided to phase out about 100 hazardous chemicals listed in the Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL). This includes in particular certain dyes and softeners for which better substitutes have already become available. This decision will also increase the pressure on Asian producers to cease using these substances.

International involvement

Many companies in the German textile and fashion industry have been working for years to improve sustainability. In order to avoid disadvantages in international competition they would like to see the Textile Partnership leveraged at the international level, too. From autumn 2016, all members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles will prepare their individual own roadmap indicating how they are pursuing the shared goals for social standards, natural fibres, and chemicals.