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Has the Greenpeace MRSL Set Unrealistic Standards?

textile chemicals

Greenpeace, never one to shy away from alerting fashion brands to their environmental failures, has found itself on the receiving end of criticism from two industry groups.

The Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments (ETAD), an international organization working to minimize the adverse impact of colorants on health and the environment, and TEGEWA, a textile auxiliaries and colorants trade association, have come out against Greenpeace’s Manufacturer Restricted Substances List (MRSL).

In an internal paper shared with Ecotextile News, the groups stressed that apparel brands and retailers that committed to comply with the “ambitious” MRSL have put themselves in a “difficult” position.

The reason: because most chemical manufacturers are unable to deliver products that meet what they consider are unrealistic standards set forth in the Greenpeace MRSL—some of which are even lower than those required for drinking water.

“It is fundamental that the allowable limits be set at the right level. Many existing RSLs require, for final products, much lower concentrations of hazardous substances than the legally required ones. In Greenpeace’s MRSL, in particular, the maximum allowed concentration of all the relevant impurities is under the limits of detection of, in some cases very sensitive, current analytical methods,” the paper said, as reported by Ecotextile News.

It continued, “Therefore, even considering those limits as an aspirational goal, declarations of their immediate implementation raise some serious concerns.”

That’s why ETAD and TEGEWA have recommended that brands and retailers instead use the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) MSRL, which they said presents a common standard that “reflects the current status of achievable purity of high quality products on the market.”

“Limits mentioned in the [ZHDC] MRSL are achievable but challenging and are part of a control system: they allow a constant monitoring of compliance and assure that specific substances are not intentionally used,” the paper noted, adding that lists of ZDHC compliant formulations are already available.