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ZDHC 2.0 Upgrades MRSL, Adding More Harmful Textile Chemicals

ZDHC has released version 2.0 of its Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL) in an effort to further reduce the use of hazardous chemicals in the apparel and footwear supply chains.

The ZDHC MRSL is a list of chemical substances banned from intentional use in facilities processing textile materials, leather, rubber, foam, adhesives and trim parts in textiles, apparel and footwear. The latest version includes additions and improvements to the ZDHC MRSL.

“The ZDHC MRSL V1.1 was released with the vision that it would be updated as new information becomes available on chemical substances used in this industry,” Scott Echols, ZDHC program director, said. “Together with our contributors, a list of proposed substances was created over the past few years. This list was reviewed by a group of independent experts via the MRSL Update Principles and Procedures. The release of ZDHC MRSL V2.0 is a milestone. It marks the first update where experts from the independent MRSL Advisory Council decided additions to the list.”

The council developed a transparent process to evaluate chemical substances. Final decisions on substances to be added and their limit values were made to boost the objectivity of updates to the ZDHC MRSL.

“We believe the updated version of the ZDHC MRSL will contribute significantly to reducing the use of harmful chemicals in apparel and footwear,” Phil Patterson, chair of the MRSL Advisory Council, said. “Above all, the ZDHC MRSL process ensures that chemical management remains a live debate. The channel is always open for any stakeholder to provide objective scientific evidence to support a request for chemical restrictions to be added to the ZDHC MRSL.”

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‍Many problematic chemicals have been added to the list of restricted substances, including restrictions for new substrates in rubber, foams and adhesives. Efforts were made to align with the industry and cover more hazardous substances.

Two new chapters have been added to version 2.0 to increase the scope of the ZDHC MRSL, while helping the industry prepare for future restricted chemicals.

One is the “ZDHC MRSL Candidate List,” in which a chemical substance meets the criteria to be listed and safer alternatives are not yet available at scale. In this case, the ZDHC MRSL Candidate List offers visibility over potential future restricted substances, allowing time to innovate and prepare.

The second is “Archived Substances,” those that have previously been used in the industry and are no longer in use.

“In addition to adding many problematic chemical substances onto the second version of the ZDHC MRSL, the independent MRSL Advisory Council…has developed a clear, transparent process for the objective evaluation of chemical substances,” Patterson said. “The result is a clear set of standards where the main ZDHC MRSL is relevant to industry needs, but where we have a mechanism for signaling future restrictions and a way of ensuring that harmful chemicals, which have fallen out of use, cannot make an unwelcome return.”

The chemical industry will have a transition period of 12 months to implement ZDHC MRSL V2.0.