News / Asia

Toxic Chemicals Found in Indonesian-Made Clothing

Models pose on a makeshift catwalk during a fashion show organized by environmental group Greenpeace titled 'Toxic Threads - The Big Fashion Stitch-Up', in Beijing, November 20, 2012.
Models pose on a makeshift catwalk during a fashion show organized by environmental group Greenpeace titled 'Toxic Threads - The Big Fashion Stitch-Up', in Beijing, November 20, 2012.
Kate Lamb
A global investigation by Greenpeace has revealed that clothing from well-known fashion brands produced in Indonesia contain hazardous chemicals, dangerous to both the environment and human health.

Greenpeace says global brands such as Armani, GAP, Marks & Spencer and Esprit are manufacturing potentially toxic clothing in Indonesia. The study titled “Toxic Threads, the Big Fashion Stitch-up” found that garments produced by the high street brands contain Nonylphenol ethoxylates, or NPEs.

NPEs, says Greenpeace Indonesia spokesperson Hilda Meutia, are harmful to both the environment and the human reproductive system.

“NPEs is both damaging for human health and the environment, I mean the water ecosystem but also to human health because research shows that it disrupts the work of our hormones," Meutia explains.

Greenpeace says the chemical is leaked into rivers during the manufacturing process and when the clothes are washed.

Transparency

But Indonesia’s Textile Association Ade Sudrajat dismissed the claims.

He says Indonesian law requires textile producers to be transparent about the types and levels of chemicals used - and that the Greenpeace report warrants further scrutiny.

“The regulation is strong enough for the textile industry in Indonesia and I think if the research is based on the garment industry, mostly in the garment industry the fabrics come from abroad, mostly from China and Korea. That is, the raw material fabrics,” Sudrajat says.

Admitting that Indonesia’s import regulations could be tighter, Sudrajat says Greenpeace should clarify whether the garments tested were cut from imported fabrics.

Textiles are a major export for Indonesia but a recent free trade agreement with China has created a tide of imports and put pressure on the local industry.

The report comes at a time when the Indonesian government is looking at tax breaks to increase competitiveness amid the threat of major job losses.

A decision this week to raise the minimum wage in Jakarta by 44 percent could see more than 100,000 textile workers laid off due to factory closures.

No sweatshops

In addition to the claims of environmental misconduct, Indonesian factories for Nike and Adidas were accused of supporting ‘sweatshop conditions’ this year for failing to pay minimum wages and mistreating workers.

But Fauzi Ichsan, an economist at Standard Chartered, says Indonesia is not a sweatshop economy.

“Indonesia is not third world anymore, not in the sense that labor is being exploited cheaply," notes Ichsan. "If you talk to industrial managers, industrial plants, they would argue that Indonesian labor is not only becoming more costly but the regulations, for example, the recent policy to end outsourcing will make Indonesian labor less competitive.”

Worst offenders

On the environmental front, Indonesia’s textile industry is not the only one under scrutiny.

The Greenpeace study tested garments produced by 20 global fashion houses in 27 countries. Globally, NPEs were found in 89 of the 141 samples examined.

Among the worst offenders were labels such as Calvin Klein, Mango, Marks & Spencer and Zara. Two samples from Zara contained cancer-causing amines from the use of azo dyes.

But Greenpeace’s Hilda Meutia says it is not trying to demonize any one brand.

“We are not targeting one specific brand, there are 20 brands that have this same kind of problem and all these 20 brands need to come up with a good plan to detox," she insists. "The more people power, the voice of the people that join this campaign will help corporations to answer to the detox challenge.  Everyone needs to be aware, not just the people wearing the clothes, because it affects a lot of people.””

A week after the Greenpeace report, the second of its kind, Marks & Spencer has agreed to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals entirely by 2020.

High street fashion brand H&M is also following suit, while ZARA says it will launch its own internal investigation.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid