Greenpeace outs brands linked to China water pollution
Greenpeace has published a new report, Dirty Laundry, that profiles the problem of toxic water pollution resulting from the release of hazardous chemicals by the textile industry in China.
The report documents the result of a year-long investigation into two facilities: the Youngor Textile Complex located on the Yangtze River Delta and the Well Dyeing Factory Limited on a tributary of the Pearl River Delta. They were found to be discharging a range of hazardous and persistent chemicals with hormone-disrupting properties.
It also reveals that the companies behind the two facilities have commercial relationships (as suppliers) with a range of major brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Bauer Hockey, Calvin Klein, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Lacoste, Li Ning, Meters/bonwe, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH Corp), Puma and Youngor, and have also been linked with a number of other Chinese and international brands.
The Greenpeace report does not present direct evidence that production for these brands results in the documented water pollution. Subsequently Adidas told Reuters that it does not source fabric from the Youngor Group but does used it to cut and sew garments. Nike said that while it does source from two Youngor Group factories, neither used the dangerous chemicals found in the wastewater discharge examined by Greenpeace.
The NGO maintains, however, that the results are indicative of much wider water pollution problem in China which global clothing bands are contributing to by not having responsible and transparent sourcing policies. While China has yet to implement a systematic chemicals management policy Greenpeace says global firms outsourcing to China in an effort to cut costs should also shoulder responsibility.
"None of the corporations mentioned in our report have a comprehensive, publicly available policy that ensures that their suppliers are eliminating hazardous chemicals from their supply chain, so we believe they are perpetuating toxic pollution," said Greenpeace spokesperson Li Yifang at the report's launch.
Samples taken from the wastewater discharges from the two facilities revealed the presence of heavy metals as well as hazardous, hormone-disrupting substances such as akylphenols and perfluorinated chemicals, which are restricted across the European Union and the United States.
The chemicals - which can harm immune and endocrinological systems as well as the liver - are non-degradable and cannot be removed by water treatment plants, which is why they have been eliminated elsewhere, according to Li.
China has identified water as one of its most pressing environmental problems, with many of its major rivers contaminated by toxic run-offs from the country's factories and farms. With 20 percent of the world's population but only 7 percent of global water resources, China's water problems are severe.
At the beginning of June the country's Ministry of Environmental Protection said 16.4 percent of the country's major rivers are so badly polluted the water cannot even be used for crop irrigation. In all 90 percent of cities' groundwater and 75 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted and as a result, 700 million people drink contaminated water every day