Chemicals in textile production
To ensure the safety of our customers, people who work in our supply chains and the environment we were the UK's first major retailer to launch a chemical compliance policy in 1998. This banned the use of hazardous chemicals such as alkylphenol ethoxylates (known as APEOs) and heavy metals and was gradually extended to cover textile printers, finishing facilities, laundries and tanneries as well as dyehouses.
Environmental and Chemical Policy
The M&S approach to chemical management has never stood still and has continually evolved. After extensive consultation with industry experts, in 2011 we updated our standards as the M&S Environmental and Chemical Policy (ECP) to include new modules providing guidance and best practices for our suppliers. For the first time, we also included sections on environmental management and minimising water and energy use. In 2013 we updated again with new sections on APEOs and tanneries.
The fundamental principle for our approach to managing chemicals in our supply chain is that no dyehouse can join the M&S supply chain without first complying with our Environmental and Chemical Policy. Every dyehouse must complete a rigorous audit before being considered suitable for M&S production, and the performance of the dyehouse is reviewed regularly.
In 2012 M&S worked with Greenpeace to develop new chemical commitments that have strengthened our Environmental and Chemical Policy and we believe has cemented our position as a leader in the management of chemicals in the textile industry.
The new commitments include strengthening and improving our management of APEOs, eliminating perfluorinated compounds (known as PFCs and used to provide special finishes to fabrics) and conducting a trial to assess the feasibility of publicly disclosing supplier dyehouse chemical discharge data.
A full set of commitments agreed with Greenpeace can be viewed here.
Our Environmental and Chemical Policy, including the M&S Restricted Substance List, can be viewed here:
As well as implementing and assessing our policy, we work with universities, chemical manufacturers, machinery manufacturers and dyehouse suppliers to develop innovative ways to produce our products.
As part of Plan A, M&S launched three eco-dyehouses that have been used as test beds for new environmental concepts and technology. As a result, processes are now being used in the M&S supply chain that reduce the impact on the environment such as Cold Batch Dyeing, a process that, on average, uses 50% less water and reduces carbon by 30%. 1.3 million M&S products have now been made using Cold Batch Dyeing.
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