Members of Greenpeace on Saturday staged a protest in front of, and inside, the Adidas Store branch at the Gateway Mall in Cubao, Quezon City, calling on the sportswear giant to “detoxify” the clothes they sell.
Since 2011, Greenpeace has been telling popular clothing brands to eliminate the use of chemicals that pose a threat to the environment. That same year, Adidas, issued a statement committing to replacing the hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives. However, no concrete action has been since been taken.
“Despite its commitment to detox, Adidas gives us nothing more than half-measures and paper promises,” said Abigail Aguilar, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in a press release.
Aside from Adidas, 17 other international brands committed to stop using toxic chemicals in their manufacturing process and replace them with less harmful alternatives by January 1, 2020.
These brands include
The aforementioned companies have all made good on their promise and are currently working towards eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals – all except for Nike, Adidas, and LiNing.
In January 14 this year, Greenpeace released a study stating that all clothing apparel that they tested contained hazardous chemicals like nonylphenol ethoxylates/Nonylphenols (NPEs/NPs), phthalates, organotins, per/poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs), and antimony.
Various studies have shown that PFCs, Phthalates, organotins, and NPEs/NPs are proven to be hormone-disrupting. Antimony causes dermatitis, irritation of the respiratory tract, and interference with the immune system. NPEs/NPs were also found as potentially carcinogenic in animal tests.
Greenpeace’s study also said that a total of 82 textile products for children’s wear were purchased in May and June 2013 from 25 countries and regions worldwide. These were manufactured in at least 12 different countries and regions.
Among the brands tested were American Apparel, C&A, Disney, GAP, H&M, Primark, Uniqlo, Adidas, LiNing, Nike, Puma, and Burberry.
The chemicals used in the manufacturing process stay in the ecosystem for a long time and “accumulate in bodies of mammals,” Aguilar said. They also pose a more serious threat to the textile manufacturing work force due to their constant exposure to these substances.
“They are more directly affected, so to speak, kasi nga yung constant exposure nila,” Aguilar added.
She also said that the effects of the toxins will not be immediate or instantenous, rather the harm they do accumulated and is seen in the long run, mostly on the environment, since the chemicals are often disposed of by flushing down sewage and waterways, she said.
There are, however, no studies that prove the harmful effect of these chemicals in the Philippines.
“Hindi pa natin siya thoroughly napag-aaralan. Pero sa ibang bansa, mayroon silang active call, specifically [the European Union], to phase these out,” she said.
International regulations and precedents
The European Union has a regulation called the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), meant to “ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, the promotion of alternative test methods, the free circulation of substances on the internal market and enhancing competitiveness and innovation.”
An article from DW reported that the European Union has legal limitations in place for such chemicals in children’s toys, but this regulation does not cover children’s clothing.
Aguilar said that the closest legislation the Philippines has against pollution and chemicals is Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste and Nuclear Waste Act of 1990.
The Environment Management Bureau (EMB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources released a Priority Chemicals List (PCL) that “potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”
Companies using chemicals listed under the PCL need to submit special reports to the EMB. At the moment, only antimony is included in the list.