Apparel Industry Groups Merge Chemicals Questionnaires

« Outdoor Industry Association, ZDHC and SAC join forces on supplier reporting
Three apparel industry groups are merging their online supplier questionnaires, to reduce the reporting burden on firms up the supply chain.

The questionnaires, used by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group, will be combined and then incorporated into the chemicals management module of the Higg Index – a data reporting platform, used by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to evaluate the environmental and social impact of apparel and footwear products.

Speaking at a side event at last week’s UN chemicals summit, ICCM4, OIA director of corporate responsibility, Beth Jensen, said convergence of the tools will start late this year, with the aim of launching the updated Higg Index in mid-2016.
Merging the three questionnaires will lessen the burden on suppliers, said Ms Jensen, because there will only be one shared version instead of three separate forms.

The streamlined tool will ask questions on:

• chemicals procurement;
• restricted substance list compliance;
• storage;
• handling;
• use;
• emissions and disposal;
• product design and intended use(s);
• alternatives assessment and identification; and
• best practices

Suppliers, she said, are currently being asked to fill out and manage multiple questionnaires – which often overlap – and several requests often come from a company which belongs to more than one group.
Meanwhile, the ZDHC group of apparel and retailer brands has updated its action plan – for achieving zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. The group says this will move it “from the development of foundational tools into the territory of tool implementation”.

It has also replaced its seven work streams with four areas of chemical management:

• encouraging compliance with its updated manufacturing restricted substances list;
• engaging with academia and companies to encourage research into the development of safer alternatives and studies on priority chemicals;
• finalising the audit conformance process and engaging with industry groups to promote adoption of the audit tools; and
• minimising chemical pollutants, discharged into the environment, and developing wastewater quality guidance.

The group also identified the need to carry out « cross cutting » actions for all four areas. These involve recording data, disclosing the information gathered and training.

« For both focus areas and cross cutting themes, we want to consistently work across three dimensions – standard setting, collaborative implementation and engagement of appropriate stakeholders to support our work, » said ZDHC executive director, Frank Michel. « 

Arricle of Leigh Stringer
OIA’s chemical management indicators :

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