Importance to Understand Chemical Compliance in Textile & Apparel Industry

Importance to Understand Chemical Compliance in Textile & Apparel Industry
Dr. Subrata Das
Head (Training Services)
NimkarTek Technical Services Pvt Ltd
Thane, India

In the current textile and apparel industry, the difficulty in controlling diverse health or environment-related chemical hazards lies not only in the vast volume of chemicals used in the manufacturing process, but is also due to the complexity and multi-tiered textile supply chain which involves diverse suppliers worldwide. Chemical information is not always transparent and does not always move smoothly along the supply chain. Suppliers often lack awareness and competence to manage chemicals effectively. The current industry trend of moving from traditional “push model” (production based on prediction) to a “pull model” (lean retailing/fast fashion) further increases the complexity of the supply chain.

The chemical suppliers should improve their understanding of MSDSs for their products to get accurate and necessary information about the use of chemicals. Employees must be trained to ensure all containers are well labelled and chemicals are properly handled. This will help to avoid cross contamination. Critical control points in the manufacturing process such as chemical traceability processes should be improved. Using these practices, brands and suppliers can improve their chemical management performance step by step and eventually a multi-win result can be achieved among brands, suppliers, consumers and the environment.

Suppliers require to maintain good chemical management practices and encourages elimination of hazardous chemicals throughout production. Workers must utilize appropriate personal protective equipment when handling chemicals. Protecting workers from chemical exposure is of paramount importance in health and safety aspects.
Waste water treatment plant
Waste water treatment plant
Each factory discharging waste water in the environment must prove its compliance with the legal requirements covering the discharge. Certain chemical substances need to be phase out by finding alternative and suitable chemistry substitutions. Brands work with chemical suppliers to qualify specific chemical formulations as RSL-compliant preparations that can be used in manufacturing processes.

Many businesses and associations create Restricted Substances Lists (RSL) and declarable substances lists to provide an inventory of maximum recommended levels of known hazardous substances for a variety of products and packaging in numerous industries. While in many cases the RSL allows for a trace amount of a restricted chemical to be present, the fundamental goal is to eliminate restricted substances in supply chain and products. The RSL identifies chemical substances that are legally restricted throughout the world, and restricts chemical substances to achieve best practices in our industry.

If we believe to be successful in our responsible chemistry work, we must collaborate with numerous stakeholders. These stakeholders include suppliers and customers, as well as peers, chemical manufacturers, governments and non-governmental organizations. Retailing/fast fashion further increases the complexity of the supply chain. Accompanying the faster pace of the industry, more and more stringent laws and regulations on chemicals are being issued by governmental authorities globally. Traditional solutions of performing chemical tests on finished products for the purpose of complying with regulations cannot be sustained in the long term. New solutions need to be found. Sound chemical management is the key to success in controlling chemical risks in the supply chain.

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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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