LANXESS joined the ZDHC Program, an association of more than 80 companies within the world’s largest initiative for sustainability in the textile and clothing industry. The ZDHC Program (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) takes a holistic approach to reducing the use of hazardous substances in the global textile, leather and footwear value chain.
The ZDHC Foundation, which was established in 2011 as the ZDHC initiative, has set itself the goal of improving sustainability and chemicals management. Even at that time, LANXESS’s Leather business unit, represented by the industry organization Tegewa, contributed to the development of the Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL). To increase visibility and to be directly involved in decision-making processes, LANXESS has now decided to become a Supply Chain Contributor to the ZDHC program.
LANXESS products listed in the ZDHC gateway
The ZDHC Gateway Chemical Module is the first compatible ZDHC data exchange platform that enables manufacturers of chemical substances and formulations to securely exchange information in accordance with ZDHC standards and tools. Brand manufacturers and textile, footwear and leather suppliers use the module to ensure conformance with ZDHC industry standards to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals.
The principle of replacing hazardous chemicals with less hazardous ones wherever technically possible has always been a guideline for research and development in the LANXESS Leather business unit. As a consequence, all substances identified by ZDHC had already been removed from the LANXESS portfolio when the ZDHC MRSL for leather was published in December 2015. Only very few products in which traces of listed substances were introduced via the raw materials used required subsequent replacement.
Since 2016, LANXESS has thus been one of the first suppliers of chemicals for leather manufacturers to offer a product list compliant with the ZDHC MRSL criteria. As the ZDHC gateway is now fully functional for this product area, consequently all compliant products should be uploaded into the system. This gives other actors in the supply chain unrestricted access and enables the use of the stored information.
“As the chemical industry proactively supports the initiative and invests a substantial amount of effort and money to create a solid basis for decision-making, we expect brand manufacturers to stand by their commitment and enforce the use of MRSL-compliant products in their supply chain,” says Dr. Thomas Brackemeyer, head of the Organic Leather Chemicals business line at LANXESS.
Level 3 certification via Chem-MAP
The Chem-MAP value chain program was developed by the BLC Leather Technology Center in response to the need for verification of chemical inputs and is aimed at the three main stakeholders in a consumer goods value chain: the chemical manufacturing company, the materials manufacturer and the brand company and/or retailer.
The program ensures that chemical products are sold in accordance with the MRSL specification and that chemical manufacturers have adequate management including appropriate control systems to ensure that chemical products are manufactured responsibly and to recognized standards. This process involves a solid assessment of LANXESS through an audit and test program and further downstream validation through plant audits and monitoring tests of the chemical products supplied.
The BLC Chem-MAP is the first system approved by the ZDHC that ultimately leads to a Level 3 certification, the highest achievable level. The process will take some time for the approximately 500 products in the LANXESS portfolio. During this time, the progress in the gateway can be observed. “I expect that while the certification is in progress, the number of products on the LANXESS gateway profile page will continuously shift until all of them meet Level 3,” says Dr. Martin Kleban, HSEQ delegate in the Leather business unit.