Changing Markets Foundation has named and shamed fashion brands accused of ignoring calls to switch over to sustainable viscose.
Its new report praised Zara parent company Inditex, Asos and M&S for leading the transition over to responsible viscose in the wake of new evidence of the severe environmental harm viscose production can cause.
However, luxury brands including Prada and Chanel, as well as value retailers such as Asda, Lidl and fast fashion brands Missguided and Boohoo were shamed for having a “complete lack of engagement on a critical sustainability issue”.
Based on over a year’s worth of investigations and research, Changing Markets Foundation found that companies supplying viscose to global fashion brands were dumping toxic wastewater in lakes and waterways, destroying subsistence agriculture and fisheries.
Communities living near some of the plants said a lack of access to clean drinking water and sickening smells make life unbearable, and that those in the locale experience higher incidences of serious diseases such as cancer.
Asos, Inditex, M&S, H&M and Tesco are among the retailers that have now signed up to Changing Markets’ Roadmap Towards Responsible Viscose and Modal Fibre Manufacturing scheme, although many other high street and luxury retailers failed to respond to calls for more responsible sourcing.
“After many years of complacency from fashion brands and producers with regard to the environmental impacts of viscose manufacturing, the tide is finally beginning to turn towards more responsible production methods,” campaign manager Natasha Hurley said.
She added: “But the unlikely bedfellows of luxury brands and discount retailers continue to ignore an issue that is blighting people’s lives and the environment.
“What’s more, most luxury fashion brands are failing to publicly disclose supply chain information. This is unacceptable. It’s time for them to wake up to consumers’ desire for more transparency and more sustainable fashion.”