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Burberry Is Latest Apparel Brand to Commit to Eliminate Hazardous Chemicals

Image credit: Greenpeace

… Or, as Greenpeace refers to its apparent victory: “How to Detox a fashion brand in 14 days, 6 cities and 10,000 tweets.”

British luxury fashion brand Burberry has responded to recent allegations by Greenpeace that some of its clothing contains hazardous chemicals by committing to remove all such substances from its operations by 2020.

The rather comprehensive pledge finds the company “committed to zero discharges of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures associated with the making and using of all products Burberry produces and/or sells by 01 January 2020.”

The action is likely in response to a week of activist activities around the world to continue to pressure the brand after Greenpeace’s ‘Little Monsters’ report, released earlier this month, named Burberry as one of a dozen brands whose children’s clothing was found to contain toxic chemicals. The report said all but one Burberry item tested contained Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) — a group of chemicals that break down in the environment to form the toxic chemical nonylphenols (NP), which act as hormone disruptors.

In a formal response released on January 24, Burberry said: "All Burberry products are safe and fully adhere to international environmental and safety standards. We have an active programme dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of our supply chain, working in collaboration with our suppliers and NGOs. Greenpeace is aware of our work, which includes the commitment to eliminate from our supply chain the release of chemicals that have an environmental impact."

Burberry keep calm and detoxThe following day, Greenpeace unleashed its worldwide high-pressure system, which included activist protests at Burberry stores from Jakarta to Moscow, as well as a “social media storm” in which thousands of Greenpeace supporters flooded Burberry’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts with messages and images (left) urging the brand to clean up its act.

Ahmad Ashov, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, said: “Burberry claims its products come ‘with love’ but the brand fails to tell the public they also come with unwanted toxic Little Monsters. Greenpeace is calling on this fashion trendsetter to give their customers, local communities and our future generations a present they can cherish forever: beautiful fashion without the hazardous chemicals.”

Burberry’s announcement this week makes it the 19th brand to sign onto Greenpeace's Detox Solution Commitment, joining H&M, Nike, Zara, Benetton, M&S, Levi’s and a host of others striving to achieve zero toxic discharges by 2020.

"In taking this landmark step, Burberry has listened to its customers’ demands, joining the ranks of brands acting on behalf of parents everywhere to give this toxic nightmare the happy ending it deserves," said Ilze Smit, Detox campaigner at Greenpeace International.

"Burberry's move raises the bar for the luxury sector," Smit added. "With the Fashion Weeks coming up, brands like Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton risk getting left behind. From budget to luxury, people have a right to demand our clothes are free from hazardous chemicals and big brands have a responsibility to do something about it." 


Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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