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Chemicals in textile production

We always strive to do the right thing. We will lead our sector in sustainable consumption and production, offering our customers good value, high quality products and services. 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. 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 minimizing water and energy use. Our ECP is continually evolving and has been updated significantly in 2014.

Greenpeace Detox 2020 campaign

In 2012 M&S signed up to Greenpeace’s Detox 2020 campaign and worked with the NGO to develop new chemical commitments that have strengthened our Environmental and Chemical Policy. The ultimate aim is to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from dyehouses that supply M&S by 2020.

December 2014 update

We have launched an MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List) as part of our Environmental and Chemical Policy and this complements our existing Product RSL. The MRSL reinforces the management of chemicals at the input stage of the manufacturing process and all our wet processing facilities are required to be MRSL compliant upon ECP approval/renewal.

It is the responsibility of our suppliers to ensure they are compliant with both the M&S manufacturing RSL (MRSL) and the product RSL (RSL). This is a minimum requirement for overall compliance to the M&S Environmental and Chemical Policy (ECP)

We have continued our work on the Detox 2020 commitments and remain the only UK retailer to have signed up to the campaign

The M&S Environmental and Chemical policy is not restricted to just the initial 11 priority chemical groups identified in the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) joint road map but the current M&S policy for each of these chemical groups is as follows;

No deliberate use.  Sale of products containing > 30 ppm is illegal

No deliberate use. Use of formulations containing over 0.1% (1000ppm) of NPEO is illegal in Europe.

No deliberate use. Regulated by Commission Decision 2009/425/EC. 

No deliberate use. No formulations containing over 0.1% (1000ppm) can be placed on the market in Europe (Commission Regulation EC 552/2009)
PFOS – perfluorooctane sulphonate
No deliberate use. Articles should not contain more than 1 µg/m2 of PFOS (Commission Regulation EC 552/2009).
PFOA – perfluorooctanoic acid
No deliberate use. There is no legal restriction

M&S is committed to total PFC elimination in textiles by 1st July 2016 – through substitution to non-PFC technologies

No deliberate use. No Legal restriction.    

Consent Required. Where solvents are used suppliers should always work to change to water based alternatives. Where this is not possible there must be adequate extraction of fumes, good ventilation, and workers must be provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. No residual solvent is permitted on any finished product.

Consent Required. Not permitted in Childrenswear. Flame retardant finishes should only be applied where there is a legislative need with written consent from M&S. Penta, Hexa and Octa –brominated types must not be deliberately applied and must not be present above 5 ppm. Suppliers using deca brominated types should follow VECAP best practice.
Legal restrictions for penta and octa- brominated biphenyl ethers (BDE) of 0.1% (EC Regulation 552/2009). Legal restrictions for penta and octa BDE of 0.1% (1000ppm) (EC Regulation 552/2009).

Not permitted in Children’s clothing. 6 phthalates are illegal in children’s clothing and toys in Europe Directive 2005/84/EC. DBP, DEHP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, DNOP are banned in REACH directive above set limits. Another phthalate has been notified on the REACH SVHC list – Diisobutyl phthalate is an SVHC not on toy legislation, but should be avoided.

There is specific legislation relating to specific metals in all end uses and also legislation for metals in toys (EN71). Please note that acceptable limits in EN71 are significantly higher than for M&S textiles - the standards in this ECP document apply to M&S textile based toys. In addition to these textile standards, M&S have specific policies and standards relating to metal in componentry

No deliberate use. Europe – Regulation 552/2009 REACH Annex XV11 No. 42. Restriction on preparations containing >1.0% (10,000ppm). M&S limit is 100ppm.

All specific MRSL and RSL limits may be found on the ECP Minimum standards MRSL and RSL.

Public disclosure update – wet processing facilities

We have extended the number of dyehouses that have now taken part in the public disclosure initiative to 52 – this currently represents 56% of M&S global turnover and 76% of M&S Chinese turnover. This mechanism has now been incorporated into our dyehouse audit approval and renewal process so that all Chinese wet processing mills are now required to register and complete all tasks to fulfill all areas in the Cooperate Information Transparency Index (CITI).We aim to increase this number to 80% of our M&S Chinese turnover by June 2015


Our Environmental and Chemical policy has been re-structured with the recent additions and amendments and the modules are listed below;

ECP Introduction
ECP Minimum standards module MRSL and RSL
ECP Minimum standards REACH
ECP Minimum standards Dyers, Finishers, printers, laundries
ECP Minimum standards Tanneries
ECP Minimum standards Environmental Management

ECP Minimum standards Due Diligence for Chemical compliance