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Nike comes clean with chemicals elimination pledge

Nike comes clean with chemicals elimination pledge

Posting in Sustainability

Giant sports apparel make responds to Greenpeace campaign by reiterating a goal to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals across its supply chain by 2020.

Nike just did it. The giant global sports apparel maker has responded to a Greenpeace corporate sustainability campaign centered on water consumption and chemicals usage by pledging to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020.

In it most recent statement regarding the matter, the company said it will seek to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals related to the creation of its products. It plans to accelerate the phase out of the highest priority chemicals. The statement notes:

"We recognize the path to reaching this goal must be through innovation, the application of green chemistry, and broad industry and regulatory collaboration and engagement. Nike Inc.'s commitment and investment toward this goal and the dedication to system change is unwavering."

When Greenpeace first went public with its campaign in July pushing for zero discharge strategies from Nike, Adidas, PUMA and others like them -- particularly with respect to several factories in China -- Nike responded promptly and at length. The company noted that it shared "the aspirational goal of a toxic-free future outlined by Greenpeace and we believe our path to achieving this shared vision starts with how we manage our own supply chain." Nike also noted, however, that consistent implementation remained a challenge.

Nike said that within eight weeks (so, by mid-October) it will detail its specific plan to eliminating chemicals, and for disclosing its progress toward that goal. It also noted:

"Due to the highly complex and shared nature of supply chains, we invite others in our industry to co-create a broader action plan for the industry, as collaboration is critical to drive progress."

Even though Greenpeace doesn't give adidas Group credit for responding (yet), to be fair, the company did issue a statement in late July saying that it has received out to other brands in the apparel industry to help develop and coordinate an approach to Greenpeace's challenge. It noted:

"As a company that is committed to sustainable business practices in our own operations and our global supply chain base, we support in principle Greenpeace's aspiration for a world that is free of hazardous chemicals. However, while we are committed to being part of the solution, we have to acknowledge that the management of chemicals in multi-tiered supply chains is a complex challenge, requiring many actors to play a role in achieving this role."

PUMA and Nike have since issued individual statements, so I'm guessing that we'll hear something more specific from adidas soon especially since it (like the other companies) already has a framework in place for addressing restrictive substances.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure