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Tesco Publicly Pledges to Detox its Garment Supply Chain



Tesco is the latest retailer to commit to a more sustainable apparel production process.

On Friday, the U.K.-based retailer publicly pledged to eliminate hazardous chemicals from the supply chain of its clothing brand F&F, which is sold in 2,300 of its stores worldwide, and release a list of its suppliers.

Tesco, along with 80 other international brands and suppliers, have joined the Greenpeace Detox-Campaign since it started in 2011. The campaign ensures that brands and suppliers have eco-friendly supply chains, without the use of hazardous chemicals and unethical human labor. Detox-committed companies currently represent 15 percent of international textile production.

[Read more about the industry’s sustainability efforts: Transparency Has Become Fashion’s Hot Trend]

“The Detox standard is the new industry baseline – in only six years, forerunners of the textile sector went from total denial and opacity of their supply chain to transparency and the banning of all hazardous chemicals,” Greenpeace Germany Detox Campaign project lead Kirsten Brodde said. “Tesco’s commitment shows the rest of the industry that using hazardous chemicals is not an option anymore.”

As a new Detox-committed company, Tesco joins five other Germany-based retailers, including Aldi and Lidl, that pledged to the agreement in 2015. The commitment corresponds with Greenpeace’s report, “How seriously are retailers taking sustainable fashion?” This report is the second assessment on retailers’ compliance progress, including actions taken to remove hazardous chemicals from their garment supply chains. Greenpeace says many Detox-committed companies have already made significant progress with chemical management and transparency.

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Greenpeace’s report also measures for the first time if companies are challenging the fast fashion model by “slowing and closing the loop,” meaning that they are reducing the speed of product line changes and creating more recyclable apparel and footwear. The report says reducing overall consumption and production would conserve natural resources and encourage retailers to enact more sustainable product design, use eco-friendly materials and encourage consumers to make more earth-conscious purchases.

So far, four out of the five German companies have taken the steps to implement take-back programs for used clothing, incorporating organic cotton in their supply chains or piloting entirely recyclable products. Only one assessed company, Tchibo, has created a product life cycle strategy from design to take-back that provides consumers with the foundation to buy more sustainable products.

“Fashion brands and retailers should take measures to slow down their production and achieve full recyclability of their products equally serious than their chemical management. We need companies to foster a radical change in the way fashion is produced, marketed and consumed in the future, with warranties, repair services or sharing economy concepts, like leasing or lending,” said Brodde. “We believe Detox-committed brands could lead this change in the industry.”