Reducing the use and discharge of toxic chemicals is important for both the environment and human health. At NIKE, we are addressing the issue on several fronts.
In FY12, together with others in the apparel industry, we launched the ZDHC coalition and committed to the goal of zero discharge of hazardous* chemicals by 2020. Since then, we have jointly developed a roadmap for achieving that goal. (See roadmaptozero.com.) While it takes time to align multiple stakeholders on objectives and strategy, we believe the ultimate benefits of moving forward together will outweigh the initial efforts involved. After all, we share vendors, and we believe a challenge this big requires industry-wide solutions.
At the same time, NIKE continues to make progress on its own. We have a NIKE team driving our efforts toward the goal, including developing accountability systems, company-specific metrics and other internal means for gauging our progress.
Increasing Use of Environmentally Preferred Chemistries
In FY13, we established a strategic relationship with bluesign® to provide our suppliers with access to extensive information about more sustainable materials and chemistries. We signed the bluesign® system partner agreement that will enable our contract manufacturers access to a listing of more than 4,300 pre-screened, bluesign®-certified textile chemical formulations, including dye systems, detergents and other chemicals used in manufacturing. The bluesign® bluefinder will provide our contract manufacturers with an easy-to-use, rigorously vetted list of chemical products that will help them to reduce the environmental impacts of their processes – and therefore our products.
We are also asking material vendors in our supply base to commit in writing to green chemistry practices (for example, to self-evaluate, identify and reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals). To date, 69% of apparel material vendors and 39% in footwear have signed the commitment. We are hopeful that access to the bluesign® tools will help to increase these numbers by illustrating how straightforward it can be to choose greener options.
We continue to maintain a restricted substance list (RSL), which we have developed and shared with material vendors, finished goods contract factories and the public. Our RSL catalogs the substances that should not be included in our products. In FY13, our material vendors tested 11,600 materials to confirm they did not contain restricted substances; 95% passed. (Materials that fail are considered defective and are removed from production.) Our RSL will be updated in 2014. We are also collaborating with the ZDHC to establish an industry-wide manufacturing RSL.
For a number of years we have been tracking the amount of petroleum-derived solvents (PDSs) used and hazardous waste generated in the making of our footwear. Both measures increased slightly over the last two years – by 2.3% and 1.7% per pair of footwear, respectively – due to new contract factories in the NIKE source base and shifts in our product mix. However, our long-term progress has been good with the amount of PDSs per pair down 96% compared with FY95 when we began tracking, and hazardous waste down 31% per pair compared with FY05.
Finally, we have committed to phase out long-chain, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) which are typically used in water-repellent finishes. In 2015, we expect these chemicals will be replaced by alternatives with better toxicological and environmental profiles.
Hazardous chemicals are those that show intrinsically hazardous properties (persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic; very persistent and very bio-accumulative; carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction; endocrine disruptors or equivalent concern), not just those that have been regulated or restricted in other regions.