Mythbusters Series: Chemical Management

Mythbusters Series: Chemical Management

Tracing the use of chemicals in your supply chain is a critical part of any apparel and textile business.

Tracing the use of chemicals in your supply chain is complex, time-consuming and data-intensive. From the chemical producers to the apparel and textile suppliers, it’s complicated enough, before the extra pain of adding audit and testing information. Nonetheless, it’s a critical part of any apparel and textile business and not something you can afford to ignore.

In this blog, we’re going to debunk a few of the misconceptions surrounding your chemical management processes as a brand, supplier or organization.


Myth #1 - “Transforming the fashion industry into a more sustainable business model will take a long time, and ultimately it means that customers will have to pay more.”

Our take on it: Tracking your chemical management and wastewater emissions across your value chain provides all brands and manufacturers with a low-cost approach to taking corrective measures now. It has also been proven by numerous recent studies that consumers are willing to pay more for ethical and sustainable brands, and that this factor can even replace their loyalty towards a brand. So, the fashion industry needs to start acting now or risk losing its advocates to other brands that are on a more sustainable path. The good news is that with a smart process and the right technology, it is possible to keep your costs from rising, and even reduce them with real-time data insights about your operations.

CleanChain’s Solution: The Chemical module helps you choose safer, more ethical chemical options, provides transparency throughout the supply chain and work towards your sustainability commitments faster.


Myth #2 - “It is so easy to buy clothing and footwear these days, surely there is no need to be concerned about the use of dangerous chemicals in the production process or harmful impacts on people or the planet.” 

Our take on it: Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are still many toxic chemicals used by popular brands worldwide. Insider reported a few of the common chemicals lurking in your jeans, T-shirts, and workout clothes. A few of these include:

  • "Waterproof" or "stain-resistant" garments that could contain PFAS. Exposure to PFAS, often referred to as "forever chemicals", has been associated with kidney and testicular cancers, liver damage, and developmental issues.
  • Azo dye, the blue dye that rubs off your new pair of jeans, is the most common form of dye used in textile production and can release cancer-causing chemicals called amines. Certain forms of azo dyes have already been banned from clothing in the European Union.
  • In 2012, the environmental watchdog Greenpeace sampled more than 140 clothing items and detected phthalates in 31 garments. Three t-shirts and a pair of underwear from popular clothing brands had "very high" concentrations of phthalates which has been linked to ADHD, asthma, diabetes, and breast cancer, along with a number of reproductive issues.
  • Toxic chemicals have also been found in children's clothing. In 2006 and 2007 there was a public outcry when the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found lead in vinyl baby bibs sold at Walmart and Babies R Us. Children exposed to lead can suffer permanent brain damage, which often results in learning disabilities and increased violent behaviour.  

CleanChain’s Solution: We track and measure the chemical usage in your value chain against 3rd party standards to identify hazardous chemical usage and drive safer chemical management practices.


Myth #3 – “It is impossible to know and track every chemical used in the supply chain.”  

Our take on it: With a rise in hazardous chemical usage and the knowledge of how harmful they can be to the environment and life; it has never been so critical to monitor your conformance against industry standards like the ZDHC MRSL and others. Brands are responsible for the safety of their consumers and their commitments to sustainability, and suppliers are responsible for the health & safety of their workers, and the local environments in which they operate. With the right tools, brands can – and should - absolutely get insights into each and every chemical used in their supply chain.

CleanChain’s Solution: Our Chemical module has chemical inventory and chemical scoring features which help brands and suppliers ensure transparency and traceability within the entire supply chain..


Summary: Sustainability in supply chains is increasingly important

The chemical industry directly touches 96% of manufactured goods according to and so organizations that are developing greener supply chains to meet their CSR, ESG or sustainability goals will be looking for equally committed suppliers. McKinsey stated that over half (56%) of Chief Procurement Officers consider sustainable sourcing to be a key strategic driver of business going forward. Just recently a Barclay’s study also found that £7.1 billion in contracts were cancelled across 12 months with UK retailers, due to suppliers that did not meet “stringent ethical and sustainable standards”. 

CleanChain’s Chemical module makes it easy for brands and suppliers to communicate seamlessly on chemical usage, potential risk, and conformance. It’s unified platform will also identify any areas for performance improvements. 


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