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Companies Are Increasingly Looking to Sustainability for Brand Building

More and more, companies are keen to obtain industry material and manufacturing certifications as part of their sustainability goals and brand building.

The latest is Oeko-Tex’s Eco Passport certification, which has been recognized as a Level 3 ZDHC MRSL Conformance Indicator for the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Program. The shift means Eco Passport certified chemical substances meet the ZDHC’s (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) guidelines for safer textile chemistries that are also verified as being responsibly manufactured.

ZDHC MRSL Conformance Level 3 is the highest level in the program that covers chemical substances that are limited or banned from use in the production of apparel and footwear materials and trim to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

Oeko-Tex has worked with the apparel and footwear industry for the past 25 years to eliminate harmful substances from the global supply chain,” John Frazier senior, technical director for Oeko-Tex in North America, said. “Eco Passport is an important part of that work and proactively targets undesirable chemicals before they enter the supply chain. [It] is designed to address the specific challenges chemical manufacturers face in their efforts to comply with sustainability initiatives, while still protecting the confidentiality of their formulations.”

A recent report from Safer Made, a venture capital fund that invests in safer products and innovations, said, “Safer chemistry innovation and new materials provide positive narratives that resonate with consumers and build brand loyalty.” Consumers are considering the chemical profiles of their products with increasing scrutiny and growing awareness, the report noted.

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“Many consumers have also become aware of the impacts of the textile apparel sector, starting with outdoor enthusiasts, and including sports and fashion,” Safer Made said. “Social media and online shopping have accelerated this awareness, and consumers are increasingly looking for brands and products that reflect their values.”

Recognition as a Level 3 indicator permits Eco Passport certified suppliers “to adhere to the strictest ZDHC requirements, while safeguarding their intellectual property,” Frazier said.

The Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex program analyzes a broad set of chemicals, including colorants, scouring agents, adhesives, inks, pigments and auxiliaries in a confidential, three-step process that confirms the formulations and individual ingredients meet specific criteria for sustainability, safety and regulatory compliance. Chemical formulations are checked against the comprehensive Oeko-Tex list of substances of concern and then verified through laboratory evaluation that they don’t contain unsafe contaminants.

Sustainable production is verified with on-site observance of the manufacturer’s occupational safety methods, water and air protection mechanisms, and quality control practices in line with STeP by Oeko-Tex guidelines for sustainable production facilities. Formulations that are certified are eligible to be listed on the ZDHC Gateway–Chemical Module and the Oeko-Tex Buying Guide.

This helps apparel and footwear manufacturers wanting to incorporate sustainable chemistries to recognize them. It also aligns with Oeko-Tex’s mission to provide standardized solutions that optimize customers’ manufacturing processes and help deliver more sustainable products.

Along the same lines, DuPont Industrial Biosciences has joined with Bluesign for its bio-based, high-performance polymer Sorona. The Bluesign system unites the textile supply chain to jointly reduce its impact on people and the environment, ensure responsible use of resources and guarantee a high level of consumer safety.

DuPont Sorona is a versatile polymer comprised of 37 percent renewable plant-based ingredients, using 30 percent less energy and releasing 63 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions as compared to nylon 6 fibers. In addition to reducing a reliance on fossil fuels, Sorona polymer combines eco-efficiency with function, making it applicable for a variety of performance-oriented products. Its attributed include softness, inherent stain resistance and durability.

“This recognition from Bluesign as a verifier and supporting partner of the responsible industry underscores the commitment of Sorona brand to embracing sustainability and minimizing environmental impact in the long term,” Rene Molina, global product manager for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, said.

To qualify for the Bluesign system partnership, DuPont Sorona completed a comprehensive company assessment and roadmap meeting to demonstrate its merit for the certification of its products. As a Bluesign system partner, DuPont Sorona joins a growing collection of chemical suppliers, manufacturers and brands that are responsible acting parties in the textile value chain.

“Our unique Input stream management approach ensures approved chemicals and raw materials, such as DuPont Sorona polymer, are used in all steps of the manufacturing processes to reduce risks to both people and the environment at the very beginning of the supply chain,” Kurt Schlaepfer, head of customer relations management at Bluesign technologies, said. “Sustainable chemical and material inputs are the foundation for the Bluesign system, driving a socially and environmentally responsible value chain within the textile industry.”

Bolger & O’Hearn Specialty Chemicals has collaborated with Bluesign and ZDHC to place several of its chemistries on the official ZDHC list of sustainable, approved textile industry chemistries. Chemistries developed by Bolger & O’Hearn that are now approved by Bluesign and ZDHC include Stormproof/Breathable OmniBloq, an advanced durable water repellent technology engineered to keep apparel dry and consumers comfortable in extreme conditions, and Altopel F3, an advanced fluorine-free water repellent.

“Bolger & O’Hearn has a long-standing commitment to environmentally preferably chemistry and we are excited to be associated with the force that the ZDHC brings to the outdoor industry,” Shawn Honeycutt, Bolger & O’Hearn sales manager, said.