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Spotlight on textiles

Addressing chemicals of concern is an ongoing journey for all sectors. Few, however, have had as much experience in dealing with this as the textiles industry.

Textiles production is a chemical intensive process and the issues associated with human exposure and releases into the environment have been well documented over the last few decades, with NGOs and consumer groups putting pressure on governments and companies to make significant changes.

In light of this ongoing challenge, both regulatory authorities and the sector itself have brought chemicals management to the forefront in industry’s journey towards sustainability.

Regulatory action, such as the development of the EU’s strategy for sustainable textiles, and industry-led progressive programmes, like the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals framework, are moving things in the right direction.

Through these actions the industry has been able to mobilize much of its supply chain to make meaningful change and adopt better chemicals management systems, empowering many across the value chain and providing the knowledge necessary to remove or manage chemicals of concern.

However, the world is producing and consuming more textiles than ever before. And the current very low re-use and recycling rates mean that more textiles are being thrown away than ever before.

Textiles products and materials have been identified as a priority sector in terms of achieving sustainability and, in particular, a circular economy.

A recent UN report stated that new business models are required on a widespread scale, the use of hazardous substances in textile processing must be eliminated, and resources used much more effectively, with a shift away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy and materials.

So, from the experience already accumulated, what can the sector learn and take forward? What more can be done? And can we achieve a non-toxic, circular textiles economy?

Please join the panel of the 2021 Helsinki Chemicals Forum on 28 April for the discussion and contribute your questions or comments in a virtual setting. The panel includes:


Leigh Stringer, Global business editor, Chemical Watch


  • Frank Michel, Executive Director, ZDHC Foundation
  • Christina Jönsson, Vice President, RISE Research Institute of Sweden
  • Ana-Maria Blass-Rico, Administrator, REACH Unit, DG Growth, EU-Commission
  • Manfred Santen, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace
  • Kristen Kern, Manager of Supply Chains & Sustainability Initiatives, American Apparel & Footwear Association
See the programme schedule