H&M to Ban Toxic PFC’s from products

H&M takes the lead in eliminating a group of hazardous and hormone-disrupting chemicals from global clothing manufacturing.

Swedish Fashion retailer H&M announced yesterday that it will ban the use of Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) across its global supply chain and products as of January 1, 2013, as part of its efforts to reduce the use of hazardous substances.

According to the Environmental Working Group, global contaminants Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC’s ) are a collection of “highly toxic, extraordinarily persistent chemicals that pervasively contaminate human blood and wildlife of the world over.” Used widely in household and industrial products, the slippery, heat-stable properties of this group of chemicals are utilized in the fashion industry to create water repellent fabrics, stain repellant clothing and high performance rainwear.

Environmental campaigning organization Greenpeace‬ has welcomed H&M’s decision, praising the fast fashion giant’s leadership role on eliminating the hazardous and hormone-disrupting chemicals from clothing manufacturing.

“We expect all other clothing brands that care about their customers’ safety and the environment to respond with equal ambition and urgency and immediately ban all uses of PFCs. This landmark commitment should catalyze wider change within the industry and send a clear signal to global suppliers, such as W.L. Gore, the makers of ‘Gore Tex,’ to create PFC-free alternatives.”

H&M stated in a press release announcing the news that it had been actively working to reduce the use and impact of hazardous chemicals since 1995, and that during 2011 more than 30,000 chemical tests were carried out. “As a brand, we have since some time already worked on restricting and phasing out perfluorinated substances, and a full ban on this has been an important part of our individual action plan.”

H&M is also a part of AFIRM, an international working team of leading companies within the textile and footwear industries, educating the suppliers to achieve good chemical management. The group’s common aim is to reduce the use and impact of harmful substances in the apparel and footwear supply chain.

Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.