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Levi’s develops ‘preferred substances list’ for suppliers

Products - Sewing Jeans ©dejah_thoris - Fotolia.com

Clothing company Levi Strauss is developing a list of ‘preferred substances’ – those safer for the environment and human health – for its suppliers.

The list will be a result of the company’s Screened Chemistry Programme, which assesses the environmental and human health impact of chemicals used in the finishing process of its products.

The programme uses chemical screening tool GreenScreen, and the US EPA’s Safer Choices Programme, to determine which substances are better to use.

Both methodologies are based on chemical hazard assessment and look at a variety of human health and environmental endpoints.

“Our goal was to create a framework for screening chemicals against human health and environmental toxicity hazard endpoints, to identify best-in-class chemicals or better alternatives,” said Bart Sights, vice president of technical innovation.

Mr Sights told Chemical Watch that the two methodologies provide “visibility” of the chemical substances used by its suppliers and help to identify both approved and restricted chemicals for use in textiles finishing and raw materials.

“It allows us to make better choices on the chemicals used to make our products and have a dialogue with our chemical supplier on where improvements can be made,” he added.

Once the company’s screening programme is fully operational, it is intended that Levi’s suppliers will switch to using the preferred chemical list.

The company aims to encourage industry-wide uptake of chemical screening, by working with the ZDHC group, an industry initiative made up of apparel and retailer brands to achieve the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

It has also committed to Greenpeace’s Detox campaign to eliminate all release of hazardous chemicals, throughout its supply chain, by 2020. Levi’s phased out perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), announcing its achievement in January.

Greenpeace’s Kirsten Brodde, project lead of the Detox My Fashion campaign, told Chemical Watch that Levi’s is among many brands working on screening programmes and “green chemistry” lists.

Another example is Nike, which in 2010 introduced a Sustainable Chemistry Guidance (SCG) section to its Restricted Substances List (RSL) that highlights “positive” chemistries. And Adidas is using Switzerland-based certification company, Bluesign’s chemical data management system, Bluefinder. With this, it says, suppliers select "best-in-class" chemicals included in the database.

Ms Brodde said: “We clearly acknowledge Levi’s work, as a Detox committed company, on the precaution and substitution of hazardous chemicals such as the entirety of PFCs." 

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