Working with chemicals

Working with chemical is an essential part of the textile industry which enables natural raw materials to be transferred into stylish looking materials some with very technical functions in terms of water repellency, breathability etc.

However, working with chemicals is also challenging and complex and requires a high level of knowledge to be able to avoid health and safety risks for our consumers, the people producing our products and the environment. In other words it is important to distinguish between chemicals in general, which are essential for achieving many of the important properties of our products, and harmful chemicals which should neither be in products nor be used in the production of our products.

To avoid harmful chemicals in our products we have developed a policy on the environmental aspect of CR. The main emphasis of the policy is to 1) take a precautionary approach and 2) to focus on education as a proactive main means to eliminate harmful chemicals.

Our focus on education is based on the belief that developing the competences of not only our own staff but also our suppliers’ is the best and most effective way of avoiding harmful chemicals.  We believe that having the competences to proactively identify and assess the impact of a certain design, dye process etc. and partnering with our suppliers to achieve sustainable solutions is the best and most effective approach instead of a more reactive approach focusing on testing alone.  However, we do acknowledge that we have to validate our proactive approach with tests – smart tests – which based on risk assessments focus on where there are the highest risks of harmful chemicals. We use these test results as part of our supplier scorecard as a tool to foster dialogue with suppliers and to identify areas where we can improve.

However, we feel confident that it is not tests alone that will lead to improvements. Rather it is the combination of education and a partnership approach which will lead to not only the elimination of harmful chemicals but also the creation of sustainable practices to the benefit of suppliers and buyers as well as the surrounding environment. For more information see the section about “Working with suppliers“.

To learn more about our Restricted Substance List and Internal Workflows, please follow the links: IC Group_Restricted_Substance_List_September_2014 and IC Group Internal Chemical Workflow_ver4_Mar_2015.