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Chemical Management

Last Updated: 2019.05.10
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We implement strict controls on water and air pollution, managing chemicals to minimize harm to the environment. Our goal is zero emission of hazardous chemicals in our products and production processes. In fall/winter 2017, we prohibited the use of PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) in durable water repellent finishes. We also partner with other organizations to solve industry-wide chemical management issues that are difficult to be addressed by a single company.

Policies for the Control of Chemical Substances

In our product production process, we strive to prevent and reduce water and air pollution and to minimize environment harm through the careful management of chemical substances. With the cooperation of our business partners, we ensure the safety of our customers and factory employees. Our goal is to eliminate emissions of hazardous chemicals in products and in production processes.

Goals

Commitment to zero hazardous chemical emissions.

In 2013, Fast Retailing committed to the goal of eliminating hazardous chemical substance emissions from production processes and products by the year 2020.

Initiatives

We publish a list of restricted substances based on our commitment to eliminate emissions of hazardous chemicals. Our core fabric mills conduct periodic wastewater studies and publish results. If a release of hazardous chemical substances is detected, Fast Retailing production departments work with the factory to make improvements. Our production partners also work toward replacing hazardous chemical substances and improving control over chemical management. In addition, Fast Retailing is a Friend of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), a group which promotes the implementation of sustainable chemistry, driving innovation and best practice in the textile, apparel, leather and footwear industries to protect consumers, workers and the environment. Accordingly, we are committed to the adoption of the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) and use of the ZDHC Gateway.

Overall progress of initiatives

Drafting and publishing lists of restricted substances

We update the list of restricted substances annually, asking production partners to comply with this list. We update our list of restricted substances according to the following policies designed to prevent contamination by hazardous chemical substances (prevention approach and precautionary principles).

While our commitment defines 11 substance groups as priority chemical substances, under the advice of experts, we have added the following items to the identification and assessment of risk associated with chemical substances.

1. The CPA Green Screen Database/Approach and information sources related to the safety and toxicity of other chemical substances
2. Laws and regulations, industry standards
3. Chemical substances widely used in industry

・Hazardous Chemical Screening Method
On October 1, 2013, we published details about the screening of hazardous chemical substances to define methods for the screening of hazardous chemical substances.

・Steps toward developing methods for screening hazardous chemical substances
On March 5, 2013, Fast Retailing announced steps for developing case studies for the replacement of chemical substances and steps for developing individual toxicity screening methods.

Toward the goal of a more comprehensive control of chemical substances, we have created a restricted substances list for our products and production processes. For wastewater testing, we apply the wastewater guidelines developed by the ZDHC Group.

Related Links

Wastewater testing and disclosure

Fast Retailing requires its core fabric mills to conduct wastewater testing based on the ZDHC wastewater guidelines and disclose the results via the website of IPE (Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs), an environmental NGO in China. If hazardous chemicals are detected in the wastewater, fabric dyeing experts from our production department investigate the chemical manufacturers and partner factories, identifying the root causes and giving advice on improvements.

Initiatives toward the elimination of specified substances

・Study results related to alkyl phenol ethoxylate (APEO)
We released the results of our study of APEO on June 28, 2013.

・Progress on the elimination of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)
PFC is a durable water repellent finishing agent used widely in the apparel and outdoor wear industry to protect clothes from rain and dirt. The international environmental NGO, Greenpeace, is concerned with lack of biodegradability of PFC and other substances. In the 2013 Fast Retailing Commitment to Eliminating Hazardous Chemicals, we set a goal of the elimination of the PFC use in our manufacturing processes by July 1, 2016. We have been working with our business partners to develop alternatives and substitute technologies for PFCs. As a result, we were able to reduce PFC use to approximately two percent of products sold in 2016, and we eliminated PFC use in fall/winter 2017.

Product lines with PFC substitutes

Product lines using substitutesItems subject to functionality testsFunctions considered for substitution
Coat, blouson, parka components Water repellency, water repellent durability, oil repellency, antifouling properties, seam displacement, texture, discoloration, liquid stability, process stability Oil repellency, texture

Audits of business partner chemical substance controls

Based on the Code of Conduct for Production Partners, we conduct environmental audits and monitor the labor environment of suppliers' sewing factories and major fabric manufacturers. Environmental audits include the storage condition of chemical substances, the status of instruction manuals, and employee training conditions. Third-party specialized auditors conduct periodic audits, and factories in need of improvement are visited by Fast Retailing personnel who work with the factory to make improvements.

Fabric mills use a large amount of resources such as water, energy and chemicals and thus can have significant environmental impact. To address this, UNIQLO began using the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module in 2015 to assess environmental impacts at its core fabric mills. This index was developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a non-profit organization working to reduce the environmental impact of the apparel industry. Chemical management performance is evaluated in the Higg Index. We are now working with our core UNIQLO fabric mills to improve their performance in chemical management.

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