The Solutions to Toxic Chemicals

Standard Page - 2009-08-12
Only by eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals can we guarantee for our future generations a clean and healthy planet.

Only by eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals can we guarantee for our future generations a clean and healthy planet.

Eliminating Hazardous Chemicals

Once they are present in our environment, hazardous chemicals cannot be removed easily. They are slow to break down, with lifespans of years in which they can be absorbed by animals and people. Nor can they be removed by factory clean-up (end-of-pipe treatment) of wastewater.

A protest calling for HP to phase out hazardous chemicals in their products at their headquarters in Beijing.

Thus, the only way to ensure that our lives are free of hazardous chemicals is to eliminate them completely from use, around the world.

  • Governments should draw up a priority list of the most hazardous chemicals and establish a clear schedule for their gradual phase out from production and use.
  • Industries should adopt a “zero emissions policy” toward these hazardous chemicals and find safe replacements for them.
  • In the interim, governments should make public all information about the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals
  • As an important stakeholder, the public should be actively involved in phasing out hazardous chemicals. They should have access to all environmental data, and have the authority to provide oversight and supervision of industries’ environmental impact.

Detox our clothing

Greenpeace is calling on all clothing companies to champion a toxic-free future and to work with all of their suppliers to eliminate the release of hazardous chemicals from across their supply chain and products. To do this they must:

  • DESIGN A BETTER FUTURE: Adopt clear company and supplier policies that drive the shift from toxic to non-hazardous chemicals with clear and realistic time-lines.
  • WALK THE TALK: Respond to the urgency of the situation by demonstrating real and substantial action on the ground by prioritising the worst chemicals and eliminating these immediately.
  • MAKE TRANSPARENCY EN VOGUE: Make data publicly available on who its suppliers are, share its restricted substance list, and reveal what hazardous chemicals these suppliers are discharging on the journey towards zero. Sunlight is a powerful disinfectant!
  • SET THE TREND: Once their individual commitment is in place, influential companies also have the power to catalyse change across the sportswear and fashion industry by working collaboratively with others.

At Greenpeace, we are focusing our resources on tackling the urgent issue of hazardous chemicals being released into our waterways. However, we are also aware of many other serious and pressing issues related to the textile industry that needs tackling. You can find out more about these issues and what you can do through organisations like UNICEF, Oxfam and Save the Children.

For the latest news on which companies are being linked to sweatshop use or child labour you can also visit: and For more information on the dangers of sandblasting in the denim industry you can check out: