Driving the Adoption of Green Chemistry in the Textile Industry

We must attract talent and make this subject area exciting and appealing

Levi Strauss and Company and the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business hosted a forum to drive the adoption of green chemistry in the textile industry.

Levi Strauss and Company (LS&Co.) is a leader in sustainability and chemicals management. Since the early 2000’s, it has implemented tools and processes to ensure its products are safe and manufactured within the company Terms of Engagement guidelines. In 2013, LS&Co. developed an innovative-screened chemistry framework to assess the chemical formulations used on its products. The screened chemistry framework differs from other tools in the industry in the following ways:

The Screened Chemistry Framework

  • Increased transparency through full material disclosure of all the chemical ingredients in the formulation.
  • A focus on hazard assessment versus the more commonly accepted exposure and risk assessment.
  • The formation of a positive list of formulations rather than a restricted list of chemicals. This means focusing on chemicals USED in products, versus focusing on chemicals that should NOT be in products.”
  • A scoring algorithm to help identify the safest chemicals and prioritize chemicals to phase-out of the supply chain.

LS&Co. was awarded the prestigious EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year in 2016. It is now scaling the screened chemistry framework beyond the few chemical companies and garment manufacturers it started with towards industry-wide adoption.

The Forum to Advance the Adoption of Green Chemistry

This is where the Haas Center for Responsible Business comes into the equation. They wrote a case study called “Driving the Adoption of Green Chemistry.” As a conclusion to the case study, LS&Co. and the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business hosted a one-day workshop to further collaborate with key stakeholders on this important initiative.

A diverse group of attendees, including students, NGO’s, consultants, investors, trade associations, brands, chemical companies and governmental organizations, provided their valuable insights during the workshop.

Morning panels and discussions were followed by a deep dive into four topic areas, designed to unlock some of the opportunities for further adoption of a hazard-based approach to assessing chemicals. The groups were:

  • Investors
  • Brands and Retailers
  • Chemical companies
  • Data

The meeting was extremely collaborative and positive, and there was plenty of enthusiasm to continue on the path towards the adoption of green chemistry throughout the textile industry.

The workshop was just phase-one of this incredible journey. An immediate “must do” is to work with students, educators, brands and chemical companies to attract people into this emerging field. Someone said, “How do we make working for a chemical company as sexy as working for Patagonia?”

I for one, think this is the future of manufacturing. Using safer chemicals and driving transparency makes good business sense.

Impacts to your business?

Questions to consider:

  • Do you know what chemicals are used to manufacture your products?
  • How transparent is your chemicals management approach?

For help with any issue associated with chemicals, contact Amanda Cattermole at (415) 412 8406 or Amanda@cattermoleconsulting.com. We can help you develop powerful solutions to protect your company and brand reputation and result in safer products manufactured in cleaner supply chains.

Tips and Insights contains information to help you make informed chemical management decisions. Each post highlights a particular topic and includes questions you may want to consider for your business.

Posted on: Mar 27, 2017 in Current News

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