Over the past years, ZDHC has largely focused on driving chemical management best practices and related innovations in the dyeing and finishing of textiles, apparel, leather and footwear. Its Roadmap to Zero Program takes a holistic approach to tackling the issue of hazardous chemicals in the global textile, leather and footwear value chain.
With global viscose production projected to grow, ZDHC felt it was important to start with man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCF), including viscose, modal and lyocell, first, with plans to expand to further materials in the future. MMCFs are produced from natural feedstock, like wood and plants, often using hazardous chemicals. Within the production process of viscose and modal, the chemicals react with the cellulose and create by-products that might be released into air, water and soil, if the production process is not an integrated, or closed-loop process.
In March, ZDHC hosted the first multi-stakeholder MMCF roundtable with 80 percent of the global MMCF production attending, including Birla Cellulose, Lenzing Group and the Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose. Several ZDHC signatory brands, as well as Canopy, Textile Exchange, Bluesign and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, were also in attendance.
“The roundtable confirmed that the need to develop a clear framework of guidelines for wastewater, sludge, waste and air emissions specific to MMCF production that maps holistically into the ZDHC tool set is a key priority for ZDHC,” the organization said. “The discussions also confirmed that well-defined expectations for process by-product recovery to address closed loop commitments are needed.”
The guidelines of the new Roadmap to Zero program will first target production of MMCF, while the earlier stage dissolving pulp production process will be considered later. The first draft of the guidelines is expected at the end of 2018, with pilots foreseen in early 2019.
The recently released public disclosure portal of ZDHC will offer brands, retailers and their fiber production partners a recognized platform to demonstrate continuous improvements and environmental performance in a transparent way. ZDHC is collaborating with Canopy for the MMCF initiative, and in May, Birla Cellulose and the Lenzing Group joined ZDHC as contributors. Additional strategic partnerships with other key MMCF stakeholders are under way.