‘ZDHC Chemical Gateway’ to ease MRSL & RSL compliance chemical sourcing

Rifat Tabassum Shuchi       
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What if your customer asks you to use only organic chemicals (pesticides free/GOTS approved) in manufacturing and gives you a list of all the pesticides you couldn’t use?  Seems arduous, right? As it does not walk you through to the ease of searching.

But if you are provided with a chemical database system where you will find all the organic chemicals lists, it will help you to find the right choice. Naturally, you may not trust the lists without any certifications which ensures you that they are organic chemicals. That’s where the new searchable and safer database the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Chemical Gateway comes into help.

The ZDHC Chemical Gateway developed by ADEC Innovations is designed in conformance with the MRSL & RSL compliance. It is an online search tool which helps the apparel and footwear brands, suppliers, chemical formulators make better sourcing decisions by managing safer chemistry input against ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL).MRSL is a lists of hazardous chemicals that are banned from intentional use in the manufacturing to mitigate environmental, health and safety risks.

The ZDHC Group was initiated by the response of Greenpeace Detox campaign to demonstrate collective efforts and steps focusing on four areas:

  1. Wastewater quality
  2. The MRSL.
  3. Safer alternatives
  4. Audit protocol
Figure 1: ZDHC Chemical Gateway is to assist chemical users finding MRSL & RSL compliant chemicals very easily.
Figure 1: ZDHC Chemical Gateway is to assist chemical users finding MRSL & RSL compliant chemicals very easily.

The ZDHC Gateway is used to simplify the process and streamline the solutions by giving its suppliers full visibility into their chemicals they use through their supply chain with their origin and levels of usage.

By using newly developed database, the suppliers can easily detect whether the chemicals they are using hazardous or not. Later they also go for safer options of chemicals. Moreover they are letting their customers know the steps towards using MRSL and RSL compliant chemicals. So the suppliers get to know the data analysis and reporting which helps them to minimize inventory overstock and avoid the use of out-of-date chemicals in order to save time and money.  So it helps not only to improve customer relationships but also become more sustainable.

On November 8, 2016 at the 4th ZDHC – CNTAC Conference on Hazardous Chemical Control & Sustainable Manufacturing held in Shanghai, China where the ZDHC Group gave invitations up to 1000 suppliers to take part in to further refine and test the platform. At the end of the November, up to 30 suppliers ranging from small regional suppliers to larger multinationals attended the final stages of ZDHC Chemical Gateway’s Testing.  After running the test successfully, the Zero Discharge Hazardous Chemicals Foundation has launched its Chemicals Module of ZDHC Gateway on this June 1 to continue their progress

 “I’m delighted to see continued growth and ongoing support and the commitment from the textile, leather and footwear industry. To achieve the industry wide change, we all need to work together collaboratively, because no one brand or supplier can achieve the change alone and by acting in isolation,” says Frank Michel, Executive Director, ZDHC.

The ZDHC group anticipate that they will offer the Gateway to any company within the textile, leather and the footwear value chain-even those who are not ZDHC signatory brands or value chain affiliates   within the first quarter of 2018 in order to eliminate the need for any coordination with ZDHC.

However the impact of using ‘ZDHC Chemical Gateway’ at the factory level is yet to understand properly. The success definitely will depend on the reliability, integrity and effectiveness of the database and access to database. User friendliness will be important. Most importantly cost of chemicals should not increase due to the participation in ‘ZDHC Chemical Gateway’.

According to the World Bank, textile dyeing and treatment causes almost 20% of global industrial water pollution. As the Sustainable Development Goals 6 states that “Access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems are essential to human health and to environmental sustainability and economic prosperity”. This ZDHC Chemical Gateway can help to ensure safe water by managing hazardous chemicals in order to fulfill the SDG goal.

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