Chemical Management Addressing hazardous discharge
The global apparel industry accounts for high amounts of manufacturing chemical use, and the discharge of these chemicals can threaten local water sources and affect people living in surrounding communities.
We aim to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals within our supply chain to reduce our environmental impact and improve access to clean, safe water in the communities where our suppliers and mills operate.
We are addressing chemical use and discharge within our supply chain.
We have set an ambitious goal: to work toward zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in our supply chain by 2020.
Our approach to chemicals management includes several key components:
- Work with suppliers: We communicate chemical safety requirements to our suppliers in our Code of Vendor Conduct and require them to acknowledge and comply with these requirements.
- Compliance and monitoring: We use third-party testing of products and components of products to monitor compliance with global chemicals regulations and Gap Inc. chemical restrictions.
- Industry partnerships: We partner with industry groups, including Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), the Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management AFIRM Group and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to implement a consistent set of tools and processes to support best practices, monitor supplier performance and encourage use of safer chemicals. In addition to helping us achieve our water and sustainability commitments, these industry partnership help advance the industry as a whole.
Gap Inc. chemical restrictions are informed by global regulations, as well as hazard- and risk-based considerations. They include our Restricted Substances List (RSL) and our Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL). Since 2008, Gap Inc. suppliers have been expected to comply with our RSL. Since 2015, we have asked all of our suppliers to comply with the ZDHC MRSL, and we are aligned with the AFIRM Group RSL.
Recently, we laid the groundwork for deeper collaboration on chemicals management with our strategic suppliers and mills. As a ZDHC signatory brand, we are integrating ZDHC tools and resources into Gap Inc. policies and systems. In 2017, we piloted the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines with key suppliers. In 2018, we adopted the guidelines into existing supply chain programs, including our Water Quality Program, which reaches all denim laundries, and our Mill Sustainability Program. Our strategic mills and laundries are now required to test their wastewater twice a year to ZDHC standards and publish the results through the ZDHC Gateway — a platform that allows brands to monitor supplier performance and provides suppliers information on better alternatives to restricted substances.
We also ask all Tier 1 cut-and-sew suppliers and strategic fabric suppliers to respond to the SAC’s Higg Index FEM 3.0 to assess chemical management in our supply chain. We are using this data to inform the evolution of Gap Inc.’s chemical management strategy.