By Mr. Ata Bayraktar, Head of Softlines Sales, TÜV Rheinland Turkey
Sustainability Trends in the Fashion Industry
Sustainability in the fashion industry is a multidisciplinary issue which requires cross-functional teams, network collaborations, capacity building, as well as handling and creating value chains.
A proper landscape analysis is needed to see who constitutes the chain, and how education can be utilised as an instrument to spread accountability across the network. Buying firms, due to the power distribution, must acknowledge commercial pressures their suppliers are facing and they therefore must provide further incentives to help upper tier suppliers get educated and empowered.
As the famous Indian saying goes, “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”
This is our universe and we have to act responsibly. When it comes to the textile industry, understanding and acting in accordance to source for safer alternatives to dangerous chemical hazards remains as a major challenge.
To be ready for the future, companies should think ahead and act now. For example, today’s topic is ZDHC* & DETOX** for the textile sector (which will hopefully be solved by 2020), but what will tomorrow’s topic be?
Regardless of the challenges of the future, the key to tackling them is quality and responsibility – responsibility for the environment, communities and the world. It might be costly to control each aspect of your manufacturing process, but consumers gravitate towards companies who display a commitment to the betterment of the world.
*ZDHC stands for Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals
** The DETOX campaign is initiated by Greenpeace which seeks to stop industry poisoning our water with hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals. It challenges top brands to make amends by working with their suppliers to eliminate all hazardous chemicals across their entire supply chain, and the entire life-cycle of their products.
What Needs To Be Done Today
Firstly, they need to be ready and participate in the vision of widespread implementation of sustainable chemistry. They can benefit from the best practices in their sector (textile, leather or footwear industry) and they need to be more focused on protecting consumers, workers and as well as the environment.
In order to implement ZDHC tools, it is important to raise awareness and act responsibly and collaboratively with all shareholders and players to adapt to the change. No brand, supplier or company can achieve this change alone.
Over time I hope to help create a global commons of advice, a shared pool of wisdom that everyone can both contribute to and gain from. Because in this issue it’s nearly impossible to mention just one nugget of wisdom that can cover the entire topic. ‘’A problem shared is definitely a problem halved,’’ so at first the companies need to know their problems deeply and have to build up a mechanism that provides a transparent solution. It is important to ensure that safe products are made in a healthy workplace while protecting the environment.
What I really recommend to companies is not to be anxious about creating and carrying out benchmarking studies with their strategic suppliers, partners or competitors. Data verification and testing through external laboratories will also strengthen their action plans.
TÜV Rheinland is Here To Help
First and foremost, TÜV Rheinland has an extensive global network and know-how in guiding and supporting companies with committed professionals from intensive background in this business field and topic. We can help the companies to ensure their quality, performance and compliance with our effective partnership with ZDHC foundation. Our testing and certification programs and initiative also provides a clear value and understanding of the possibilities when the industry works together towards the common good.
There are many benefits for different stakeholders like chemical companies, material manufacturers, brands and retailers to work with TÜV Rheinland. We are pioneering the development of chemical sustainability by helping companies develop a transparent and reliable supply chain that supports the development of effective chemical management.
It is not possible to assess the safety of chemicals and products in the sector without proper testing. From chemical & product testing, wastewater and sludge sampling and testing to handling suppliers’ data, TÜV Rheinland is highly dedicated to support the textile, leather and footwear industry to improve its chemical management in production. With our ‘Precisely Right’ solutions and reports, companies can now minimise their risks through the supply chain and ensure compliance to industry standards and ZDHC requirements.
Our Commitment to Public Safety
End consumers and members of the public feel more assured when using products that are well-tested, regulated and certified. Testing of any consumer products, raw materials or parts is a necessary requirement in providing total quality assurance to clients and ensuring the overall safety of end consumers.
Testing can be performed on a wide range of materials, products, product lines, prototype creations, and services. From responsible sourcing to sustainability, compliance to supply chain management, quality assurance to verification of marketing claims, TÜV Rheinland provides flexible and rational solutions that expedite the process of bringing safer, quality products to the local and global market.
By implementing customised and comprehensive Environmental Management Systems, companies play a part in improving the public's well-being. Besides controlling the environmental outputs such as untreated wastewater and sludge, companies can create a better environment by conducting testing according to regulations and ZDHC requirements as well as using safer chemicals in the production process.
A Change For The Better
Day by day, the pressure for brands to abide with the ZDHC initiative become inevitable in the textile industry, especially in Turkey where there is a rise in consciousness towards the 2020 commitment. While most suppliers still view investing in sustainability, testing and certification as a drawback due to its cost, it is vital for a safer, cleaner and more transparent supply chain. Suppliers should consider the long term benefits of following through with these initiatives instead of doing so just to benefit certain partnerships or satisfy shareholders.
The TIC industry, especially TÜV Rheinland, plays a very crucial role in building a Green Future, and through our programs, we always help to extend product life cycles. We’re always dedicated to share and expand our plans, research and achievements with all stakeholders beyond the border of the entire world.
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