The design phase – the most risky, expensive and longest part of the supply chain

Research shows that at least 80% of a product’s environmental impact is locked into the product during the same phase. This might mean that there are a lot of possibilities for you to further reduce risk, cut time and cost.

Unfortunately, oftentimes there is little or no time to plan and no data to review to help avoid production issues and build towards a sustainable future. The excitement and freshness of the new season quickly becomes the drudge of just getting through the endless work pile of communication.

How to handle hazardous substances, practically?
The below tree steps will demonstrates your knowledge and responsibility throughout the supply chain and bring commitment and trustworthiness from both end customers and suppliers in return.

  1. What substances to look out for

  2. What tests to select season to season

  3. How to solve an issue and find appropriate solutions when needed

When talking to a variety of companies, many are not aware...
There are several single countries own chemical regulations with specific laws that goes on top of regulations like Reach in Europe. Oftentimes, this is not enough, not for the media and also not for the environment or the consumer. Organizations like Greenpeace go beyond the law.

To create a solid foundation you need to be continuously updated on specific and general laws and regulations regarding your product’s material and composition in the countries you sell and produce in, including knowledge beyond those regulations.

We recommend you to divide your articles and components in below three categories to keep good track of your concerns. And to add separate sections such as nano technology, biocides etc., if relevant to your production.

  • Skin contact

  • No skin contact

  • Babies

Most importantly
You should make sure that your list of restricted substances is not just another paper to be sign. Make it possible for you and your suppliers to actively use the list. It should be easy to use and act as a training document and technical supplement. By adding comments and advice in the list, including dyestuff known to release hazardous substances, the list can serve the whole supply chain to make decisions with little or no expertise in chemistry.

Extract from a natific RSL list

Keeping up to speed regarding hazardous substances requires a fairly amount of work. Having people with strong competence and a worldwide network within the field of chemicals, ecology, toxicology and textile makes this possible. We are keen on staying up-to-date on country and region specific regulations and beyond, what other well known brands consider and act upon, and what is happening at the suppliers’ site, while also regularly discuss relevant concerns with ecological organizations.

Now what?
The second step is to verify compliance by testing your products. A good testing strategy will save you significant of money usually spent but not leading to higher safety. Basic testing guides exists and can act as an overall help for what chemical groups you might find on your materials and components. Unfortunately we hear about too many tests carried out on not applicable materials, components, finishing effects etc. Receiving advice from someone independent is recommended.

A focused testing strategy will make your testing more efficient while minimizing risk

By assessing substances likely to be used during your production process, you will know exactly what tests to perform and why. This process will optimize the number of tests to be carried out, where the highest risks are involved. If you keep track on the source of origin, country of production and your supplier’s history to learn from the past, you can optimize the tests even more from season to season. This means that you might want to test more the first seasons, then hopefully (depending on your testing results) you will be able to reduce the amount of test.

You have come far
Yet, the third key still remains. What if you receive positive results from the lab tests, or if you want to substitute a substance. Or maybe you cannot achieve the required quality without hazardous substances being used and don't know what to do?

You need to be able to solve such issues and find solutions to actualize improvements, and maybe even be able to go on site to assist the supplier. By work continuously with a holistic view, along with training, you will be able to handle some of the questions by yourself. Other parts are better to be left to experts.

natific's textile engineer Andreas Roth is carrying
out a Collection Screening at a brand client

We often hear from suppliers using the natific RSL list that it is hands on to work with, we love to hear that :)

”With new substances constantly being found it is quite scary out there. We now test garments were the risk potential is likely to be higher using focused test selection and henceforth we managed find relevant substances and at the same time reduce the annual testing budget by a huge figure. The costs of having contaminated garments at the shop are inevitably higher than paying for the RSLplus service which minimizes the risk.

Working together with natific not only the risk managers of my department now better understand the compliance specifications, it also helps to improve the competence and comprehension of suppliers as relevant dye-house engineers get neutral, hands on expert advice offering real-life solutions."

/ N.N. Production manager, 2013

Welcome to contact us at if you would like to minimize the risk in your supply chain.

Ps. Do you know if there are any similar initiative or law in North America that can be compared to REACH? Learn about it here.

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