Are brands moving faster than legislation on banning PFAS?
Last month, three US NGOs produced a report on the PFAS commitments of major global retailers. They graded the PFAS related policies and commitments of 30 US based clothing brands and retailers across footwear, indoor and outdoor clothing. Levi Strauss took top spot for its policies and commitments but almost half of the brands, including Costco, Skechers and Walmart, received a ‘fail’ grade.
PFAS are a large family of highly persistent chemicals that hardly degrade in the natural environment and can be toxic to humans and wildlife. The most studied chemicals in this family have been shown to interfere with the reproductive system and development of the foetus as well as promote the development of certain cancers.
The report highlights how widely used PFAS are in the clothing industry, giving products properties from being waterproof to breathability and stain resistance. PFAS pollution is an issue throughout the lifecycle of these garments, from manufacture to use and disposal.
The NGOs who produced the report have called on companies who performed the worst in their assessment to make a public time-bound commitment to phase out PFAS across their supply chains and ensure that any PFAS alternatives they adopt are safer for consumers, communities, workers and the environment.
Whilst some brands and retailers are struggling to respond to the growing public demand to remove PFAS from their products, it is good to know that others are getting ahead of lagging legislation and finding alternatives to these harmful and persistent chemicals. In the light of the risk to public and environmental heath these chemicals pose, the use of PFAS in these products is not justified.
But we also need strong regulation to make sure all companies stop unnecessarily using PFAS in everyday products to protect our health and the wider environment. In the EU progress is being made towards a group ban on these toxic substances and in the UK there is an analysis underway on how to manage risks from these chemicals.
Read more about our work on PFAS here.
Read the full report on the brands here.