Chemicals and wastewater

Our Challenge

Minimising and restricting chemicals used in production - such as dyes, colourants and solvents - is important to ensure product safety and to reduce risk to water systems which can be impacted by the release of hazardous substances. Managing this risk is particularly critical in the production of apparel and textile products given the high use of water in the washing and dyeing process.

Effective management of chemicals and wastewater is a significant environment risk for Kmart Group as clothing, towels, and bedding account for approximately 50% of our business, with approximately 400 wet processing facilities currently utilised in our supply chain. Further, we manufacture these products predominantly in China, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam – countries where regulation and standards in relation to chemicals and wastewater treatment are known to be inconsistent and where there is a history of environmental damage linked to hazardous substance release.

Our risk assessment and due diligence has shown that the prevalence of hazardous substances releases is higher in Bangladesh and India, in part due to weaker regulation and compliance. For this reason, and the fact that we manufacture large volumes with strategic suppliers, we have prioritised these countries in the early phases of our strategy and roadmap.

Our Approach

Kmart Group, which includes Kmart and Target Australia, is a member of Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), a coalition of fashion retailers and brands, value chain affiliates and associates working to ensure safe and responsible management of chemicals in the global textile, leather, apparel and footwear value chain.

As part of this alliance, we are working to implement the ZDHC manufacturing restricted substance list (MRSL) [Download ZDHC MRSL v2.0] with all wet processing facilities used in the production of our own brand clothing, towel and bedding products. The ZDHC MRSL provides retailers and suppliers with a harmonised approach to managing chemicals during the processing of raw materials. The ZDHC MRSL achieves this by providing a clear list of priority chemicals and specifying the maximum concentration limit of each substance.

Implementing the MRSL, and ensuring compliance, is an important first step to improve visibility and controls on chemicals used in production and to identify opportunities to minimise or restrict hazardous substances used in production.

By adopting the industry recognised ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines, that defines the standard for wastewater discharge and sludge, we can monitor the journey to meeting our commitment.

Download the latest version:ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines V2.0 (March 2022)

Our Progress

Target (as part of Kmart Group) has developed a phased implementation roadmap to meet our ZDHC compliance requirements. We began with our focus on the wet processing facilities used by our strategic suppliers (vertical and non-vertical), primarily in Bangladesh and India. Through 2021, we have expanded our scope to include other areas of our supply chain.

As of March 2022, Kmart Group has registered 267 supplier wet processors onto the ZDHC Gateway platform, out of total of 399 declared wet processing facilities in our supply chain (67%). 150 of these facilities have already connected directly into our portal with 94% sharing wastewater test results (ZDHC ClearStream) and 60% reporting monthly chemical inventory MRSL compliance (ZDHC InCheck). During 2021, we have been engaging with these facilities to enrol them into the “ZDHC Supplier to Zero” programme.

Based on the data we have received to-date, 13% (53/399) of our wet processing facilities are in full compliance with the ZDHC wastewater guidelines and 9% (36/399) are in full compliance with the MRSL. Currently, most facilities in full compliance are from Bangladesh, with a small number from India, China, Pakistan and Vietnam. We publish progress of our wet processors on Detox Live, which shows those that meet MRSL Wastewater Guidelines and those still with work to do on corrective action. Access to full results our wet processing facilities, such as test reports, can be accessed via searching the Institute of Public & Environment Affairs (IPE) website

We will continue to training and support to our supply partners through the ZDHC Academy and support to our supply partners towards certification.

We will continue to expand the scope of the programme and also start to include our Man-Made Cellulosic Fibre suppliers and implement the ZDHC MMCF Guidelines.

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