A study conducted by the environmental campaign organization Greenpeace International has found that the products of many high-street fashion brands produced in Indonesia are tainted with hazardous chemicals that could cause severe health problems.
Greenpeace said that apparel produced by Armani, Esprit, Gap, Mango and UK clothing retailer Marks & Spencer in some Indonesian factories were contaminated with nonylphenol ethoxylates ( NPEs ), a chemical that could easily be released into the environment and cause harm to the human reproduction system.
“When the clothes are washed, they will release the hazardous chemical into the water,” a toxic-free water campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia, Ahmad Ashov Birry, said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Greenpeace International started its research on hazardous material in April by taking samples of 141 pieces of apparel from the brands purchased in 27 countries, including Indonesia.
The samples were then taken to the organization’s London laboratory for analysis.
The test found that Zara, the world’s largest clothing retailer, sells some items that contain the highest concentration of NPEs.
“Some of the Zara items tested came out positive for substances that form cancer-causing or hormone-disrupting chemicals that are unacceptable for both consumers and people living near the factories where the clothes are made,” the detox campaign coordinator for Greenpeace International, Martin Hojsik, said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
The laboratory tests also revealed that besides NPEs, the samples were also contaminated with phthalates, a substance that could also damage the human reproductive system and amines, a cancer-inducing substance.
“When these chemicals are released into any water system, they can’t decompose, and this will endanger anything that depends on water to survive,” said the water patrol coordinator with Greenpeace Indonesia, Hilda Meutia.
Greenpeace called on the brands to uphold their commitments to eliminating hazardous chemicals from their assembly lines.
Greenpeace also demanded that garment manufacturers from which the international brands sourced their apparel to disclose any chemicals used in their manufacturing process.
“We also urge the government to come up with a list of hazardous chemicals that should not be used by the garment industries,” Ashov said.
Contacted separately, PT Pan Brothers, a local garment manufacturer of some of the world’s most famous brands, including Gap and Esprit, says that it had eliminated the use of hazardous chemicals in its garment production even before Greenpeace published its reports
Pan Brothers corporate secretary Iswar Deni said that his company always followed all regulations to guarantee that its products would be free from dangerous substances.
“All of our products are clear and safe,” he said.
Iswar said that his company also hired an independent team to periodically check whether or not the chemicals used in its production were dangerous.
Responding to Greenpeace’s calls for transparency, Iswar said that activists from the environmental organization could go for an on-site visit to some of its factories.
“They can just drop by at our office,” he said.
Responding to the Greenpeace report, which is titled “Toxic Threads — The Big Fashion Stitch-Up,” a number of companies including H&M and Marks & Spencer, have made pledge to phase-out the use of some of the most harmful substances.
One week after the publication of the report, Marks & Spencer pledged to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its entire textile and clothing supply chain by 2020.
PT Mitra Adi Perkasa, which has rights over various international brands including Zara and Marks & Spencer said products of their clients had gone through tight quality control.
“They always put costumer safety and convenience as priority. So all product as much as possible has gone through tight quality control,” said Fetty Kwartati, spokesperson of PT Mitra Adi Perkasa. ( riz )