Dirty fashion: uncovering pollution in the textile supply chain


Ecostorm has contributed to a major new investigation into the production of viscose, a man-made fibre widely used in the textile supply chain, that has uncovered evidence of the impact of dangerous chemicals and noxious gases being generated by polluting factories across Asia.

Evidence gathered by the Changing Markets Foundation at locations in Indonesia, China and India found that viscose factories are dumping highly toxic wastewater into local waterways, destroying marine life and exposing workers and local populations to harmful chemicals.

The report, titled ‘Dirty Fashion: How pollution in the global textiles supply chain is making viscose toxic’, reveals links between the polluting factories and major European and North American fashion brands.

The viscose staple fibre market – which is projected to grow from $13.45 billion in 2016 to $16.78 billion per year by 2021 – is highly concentrated, with 11 companies controlling 75 per cent of global viscose production, so a concerted effort on the part of retailers could achieve dramatic change.

The report also highlights that new viscose production methods already exist, which do not rely on the abundant use of toxic chemicals and bring manufacturing into a ‘closed loop’ so that the chemicals which are used do not escape into the environment.