Benetton Group is the latest global apparel company to join Greenpeace’s Detox Program. The Italy-based retailer, which operates 6,500 stores in 120 countries, is another coup for Greenpeace. With its commitment to eliminate the release of toxic chemicals into water supplies and out of factories, Benetton joins apparel firms including NikePumaMarks & Spencer and Zara.

Similar to other fashion companies who have signed Greenpeace’s pledge, Benetton promises to end the release of hazardous chemicals throughout the company’s global supply chain by 2020. This latest move by Benetton follows on the heels of other changes to which the company committed in recent years, including the switch to liquid wood clothes hangars, more eco-friendly white kraft paper bags printed with only water-based ink, reduced packaging and the increased monitoring of emissions throughout its operations.

As is the case with many global companies, such changes will not occur overnight. Nevertheless, Benetton is moving quickly and will soon publicly disclose the chemicals applied throughout its supply chain while phasing out their use. By April, the company promises to publish a more updated “restricted substances list.” Benetton will also instruct suppliers that APEOs (alkylphenol ethoxylates), commonly found in detergents and other chemicals textile and leather processing companies use, must be replaced with safer alternatives by June. The company will also eliminate other toxins such as perfluorocarbon (PFC) and will update its chemical use policy to ban the use of new chemicals as new evidence about their impacts become available.

Seven years may appear to be a long time, but revamping a company’s tangled supply chain is often an arduous process. With such companies as Adidas experimenting with waterless drying techniques while H&M and Marks & Spencer are among companies that launched clothes recycling programs, the fashion industry in general has made impressive steps the past couple years. And now with Benetton the latest company to impose stricter manufacturing standards on how their clothes are made, watch for other holdouts within the fashion industry to join this movement as sustainability becomes a competitive, not inconvenient, issue.

Published earlier today on Triple Pundit. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India next month with the International Reporting Project.

[Image credit: Benetton Group]

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.