March 4, 2019
Brands and retailers can set themselves up for success when they deliver on their sustainable chemistry commitments. That’s why organizations like UL that provide third-party learning management services help brands and retailers follow through on their Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemical (ZDHC) program commitments. An accredited, ZDHC training provider, UL organizes sessions around the world to teach sustainable chemical management to key stakeholders along the supply chain.
“The idea behind ZDHC is that since many brands share the same supply chain — meaning that one supplier produces products for many brands — a more efficient decrease of hazardous chemical use may be achieved through consistent, sustainability demands from brands and retailers,” said Alessandro Borgonovo, a global lead for chemical management at UL.
By stating sustainability goals and setting clear intentions with suppliers, companies can create a path to chemical reduction.
“To be successful, supply chain factory managers need to understand what is being asked of them and trained in how to successfully comply with brand demand,” Borgonovo said.
UL routinely offers ZDHC training around the world, as we did in June 2020 for the North African market under the framework of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO). Participants from regional production processing companies and local government representatives attended the online sessions to learn more about chemical use and how to implement a well-managed system, including developing a systematic approach to the procurement, storage, use and disposal of chemicals within a facility.
Production processing occurs whenever water is mixed with chemicals, as with coloring and bleaching.
Brand collections going green
Chemical management offers many benefits to production processing companies and retail manufacturers, such as protecting employee health and safety plus reducing toxins released as wastewater into waterways. But, another benefit exists, one that is becoming increasingly important — brand reputation.
“If you look on the websites of many brands and companies, you will find sections related to sustainability, with many brands now producing collections with low-environmental impact,” Borgonovo said. “People care more about the environment and they know what’s going on in the green space.”
Chemical sustainability, part of a greater movement
ZDHC commitment is growing to support safer chemical management practices.
“It’s an even bigger movement if you consider the detox campaign from Greenpeace,” said Ilaria Colombo, a marketer with UL. “Additionally, many others have taken their own path to detox.”
Brands are contacting us directly to organize private ZDHC training for their suppliers and producers,” Colombo said.
Proof that while it’s easy to sign on to an initiative or to independently commit to change, it takes adjustments at the agricultural, processing and production level for a brand to make good on its promise.
UL offered this advice to brands and retailers:
Step 1: Determine the goals of your detox program, including establishing a clear list of chemicals to phase out with ambitious deadlines.
Step 2: Communicate your intentions to your supply chain and discuss how you and the suppliers can work together to achieve your goals.
Step 3: Train your supply chain factory managers. Ask them to attend a ZDHC or another chemical management workshop.
Step 4: Stick to your deadlines and commitments.
“We recognize that reaching your detox goal will not be easy,” Borgonovo said. “Great effort and energy will be required. So, adopt a risk approach and choose the highest-risk factory to start with. Once you’ve gained experience with the key suppliers, you can use it to involve your global supply chain more and more.”
Contact us to learn more about how UL organizes private ZDHC training sessions for you and your suppliers.
Last updated 5/26/2021
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