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2018 August 24

Greenpeace report: Utenos Trikotažas successfully implementing Detox

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The environmental organisation Greenpeace has published a report on the achievements of the Detox Campaign for cleaning up the management of hazardous chemical substances in the fashion industry. Utenos Trikotažas, the largest textile company in Central and Eastern Europe, is fulfilling its obligations effectively, and it is identified as a particularly positive example in the report due to its individual achievements.

‘We have so far implemented about 95% of the campaign requirements, the essence of which is elimination of 11 undesirable chemical groups identified by Greenpeace across all stages of the product lifecycle – from manufacture all through to recycling. Although the results are positive, we still have many challenges to overcome by the end of the project in 2020. It is very difficult at this stage to identify the remaining sources of undesirable substances and to ensure that these substances are prevented from getting into our production’, Algirdas Šabūnas, director general of Utenos Trikotažas, said.

Pollution from textile industries is far greater than the negative environmental impact of the aviation and maritime industries

Statistics show that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries. Oil is used in the production of synthetic fibres and massive amounts of pesticides and water are used in the production of cotton. A total of 1.7 million tonnes of chemicals, which enter the waste water after each washing, are used annually for dyeing textiles, and these subsequently enter the environment. Shoppers seldom think about such facts when trying on yet another inexpensive garment from the latest collection in a shop. However eco-friendly lifestyle, healthy living and environmentally-friendly habits are becoming fashionable and global trends dictate new rules for textile manufacturers.

Undesirable substances – less than permissible limits for drinking water

‘We officially joined Detox only last year, but since 2014 we had been preparing for it – we have invested in laboratory tests and scrutinised each stage of our production process. We have not been using hazardous substances in our production for a long time now – small amounts of undesirable chemicals are produced only in separate production stages. At the moment, out of the 11 priority chemical groups which we have agreed to eliminate only one remains. Although the amount of this is smaller than the permissible level for drinking water, according to the strict Detox requirements we must achieve zero value’, Mr Šabūnas added.

An audit was conducted at Utenos Trikotažas to assess the Detox achievements on the basis of three main criteria. Firstly, the production waste water was analysed and the waste water monitoring in the company was reviewed. In this area, Utenos Trikotažas has already achieved 95% of the required targets.

Secondly, the use of restricted chemicals in production and how the search for required alternatives is carried out were analysed. In this area, Utenos Trikotažas has already implemented 99% of the campaign requirements and this achievement is noted in the Greenpeace report and noted as an example to be followed by other large global producers. Furthermore, the report evaluates the company's effective production control processes positively.

And thirdly, during the audit the internal processes of the company associated with the effective use of restricted chemical substances, their labelling and implemented changes in the production chain were analysed in detail. Of all the requirements in the management area, Utenos Trikotažas has implemented 90% of all objectives.

Only 15% of all textile companies in the world are committed to Detox obligations

Since the beginning of the project in 2011, over 80 different textile companies which produce and sell high fashion, sport, leisure and other textile products have joined Detox. These include famous brands such as Burberry, Valentino, Nike, Levi's, etc. The report states that most campaign participants achieve their objectives efficiently and it is likely that by the end of the project in 2020 they will be able to implement the ambitious Detox requirements. However, only 15% of global textile companies are participating in the project. Such statistics shows that not all brands and producers are committed to responsible manufacturing obligations.

Utenos Trikotažas, part of the SBA concern, is the only Lithuanian company participating in this campaign and one of several companies with the vertically integrated production cycle, i.e. all production processes, from raw material production all through to the final ready to wear product, are under one roof.