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 Target as part of Kmart Group as clothing, towels, and bedding account for approximately 50% of our business, with close to 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.

Although there are significant opportunities for improvement across our supplier-base, our assessments to-date have shown that the greatest challenge lies in China, where our more limited visibility of wet processing facilities, combined with a lack of awareness of best practice requirements, means we will need to invest more resources in training and capacity building over coming years.

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. The MRSL is under constant review, and with the recent release of ZDHC MRSL v3.0, we will implement the new parameters during 2023. Download ZDHC MRSL v3.0

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)

Kmart Group has developed a phased implementation roadmap to meet our ZDHC commitment. We began with our focus on the wet processing facilities used by our strategic suppliers (vertical and non-vertical), primarily in Bangladesh and India, and then later extending our program to China. In the past year we have started to expand the scope of our program beyond strategic suppliers to all suppliers of clothing, towels and bedding.

Our Progress

As of March 2023, 220 wet processing facilities have registered with ZDHC and connected with Kmart Group through the ZDHC Gateway portal, an increase of 70 facilities from one year ago. Of these 220 facilities, 114 are in full compliance with both ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines and MRSL v2.0.

Previously, most facilities in full compliance are from Bangladesh, with a small number from India, China, Pakistan and Vietnam. In the last year, MRSL compliance has increased in all manufacturing regions. 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.

*Strategic suppliers are suppliers with whom we have a long-term relationship and that produce a high volume of product for Kmart Group.

**Vertical suppliers are those that own and control both final product manufacturing facilities and processing facilities (such as mills and laundries) used in the production of yarn and fabric. Non-vertical suppliers only own and control final product manufacturing facilities and contract to other companies for the processing of yarn and fabric.

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