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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid