Monday 1 August 2011


It's been a couple of weeks since Greenpeace launched their Dirty Laundry report, highlighting the needless pollution of Chinese rivers by textile dying plants working for Western clothing brands. The excuses have begun rolling in, as companies like Nike, Gap and Adidas scramble to retain some manner of dignity. Many claim not to use the plants in question for dyeing at all.

This of course ties into the issue of ethical audits that I was discussing last week, and how flawed they can turn out to be. Lacoste and Abercrombie and Fitch responded to the Greenpeace challenge by stating that the factories in question complied with their codes of conduct, and provided evidence of their due diligence. Clearly, that's not enough.

There's a bit of good news to be gleaned from this, though. A week after releasing an official denial, Puma brought out another statement. In a move that has left their competitors standing, Puma have pledged: eliminate the discharges of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of PUMA products by 2020.

PUMA understands the scope of the commitment to be a longterm vision – with short term practice to be defined in the clarification of actions to follow. To ensure transparency, PUMA will report on the progress of this commitment in its annual PUMA Sustainability Report.

An Action Plan will be set up by PUMA within eight weeks from the time this commitment was made.

That's moving pretty quickly, and shows that the Greenpeace message has hit home. It's proof that multinationals have to respect their green and ethical commitments, and respond without the usual corporate flimflam if they expect to be taken seriously when things go wrong.

Well done, Puma. Now, how about the rest of you? 

There's more on Greenpeace's Detox challenge to the multinationals here.

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