How does “Poison Plastic” translate to “Sustainable Plastic”? Anyone?


And so, as promised, I had sent an email requesting more information on PVC to Melissa (via Arbec Group), Vivienne Westwood and Grendene.


I received an email response from the Arbec Group immediately asking me which environmental and safety concerns I was referring to. A simple Google search might have given them an idea, but none the less, here was my response:


According to this 2005 Greenbiz article, “[h]azardous chemicals are used and released in this commonly used material, the second highest selling plastic in the world. Studies show links between chemicals created and used during the PVC lifecycle and cancer, reproductive and immune system damage, and asthma”.  The article claims that many companies have taken action in eliminating PVC from their products due to health, safety and environmental concerns such as Microsoft, Crabtree and Evelyn, Wal-Mart, HP, Adidas, Aveda, Bath and Body Works, the Body Shop, Gerber, Honda, Ikea, Lego Systems, Nike, Samsung, SC Johnson, Shaw Carpet, Toyota, Victoria’s Secret, Volkswagen, and Volvo. And of course, MEC as mentioned in the earlier post. The Centre for Health, Environment and Justice even maintains a “PVC: The Poison Plastic” campaign.


I have yet to hear back, but when I do I will post an update.  


So what do we have?

-These shoes are being marketed and sold as sustainable.

-We know that in 2005 companies such as adidas, Nike and Wal-Mart took steps to remove PVC from their products, as a result of the hazardous nature of the material.

-Melissa claims that Grendene is the “holder of exclusive injected thermoplastic”

-According to their website, Melissa has trademarked ‘MELFLEX’ which is “hypoallergenic and 100% safe for your health. It is odourless, neutral and natural”

-The companies involved have yet to comment on the hazardous reputation of PVC in the textile and apparel industry.


Let’s talk briefly on the importance of understanding the lifecycle of a garment. It may be true that the factory producing the PVC for this shoe company maintains “practically zero waste” and that the shoes are easily recyclable in house. The company boasts the sale of 176 million pairs of shoes per year. Surely all of these shoes are not sent back to the original factory in Brazil for proper breakdown.


There are quite a few shocking factors at play here: that a fashion/apparel company could so blatantly market itself as sustainable without feeling the need to support its claim; that the entire lifecycle (particularly post consumer) of the PVC is not taken into consideration when stressing the company’s take on its plastic “ecological manifesto”; and the lack of response for comment on the ‘sustainable nature of PVC’


Greenbiz article is available here

“PVC: The Poison Plastic” campaign is available here

Hong Kong Textile Conference Includes Eco-Component


Interstoff Asia Essential Spring 2009 Seminar Program includes an eco-textile panel component. The conference runs from March 18-20th, 2009. The eco-session on the 19th asks “Can sustainability survive the global credit crunch?” The panel was co-organized with Eco Textile News.


Brand Session:

Harsha Vardhan, H&M and Hans Buehr, Head of Purchasing, Triumph International. The session will be moderated by Mr. John Mowbray, Editor of Eco Textile News.


Supplier Session:

Mr. Paul Mui, Head of Business Management Textile Chemicals East Asia, BASF (China) Co Ltd. The moderator for this session has yet to be determined.


The second session on March 18th, titled “Supply Chain Management, CSR and the New Classification System of Interstoff”, will feature Mr Karl Borgschulze, Systain Consulting, Hong Kong.


As cited here on the registration form:


Mr Borgschulze will introduce the latest trends in the area of CSR and supply chain management in six aspects:

  • Social aspects along the supply chain
  • Climate change and its relevance for fabric supplier
  • Sustainable reporting along the supply chain
  • The new classification system
  • The integration of existing standards into the system
  • Opportunities for exhibitors and visitors

Mr Borgschulze who has more than 20 years’ experience in international supply chain management and in ecological optimization of value chains majoring in the textile sector, is the Managing Director of Systain Consulting Asia. Mr Borgschulze was involved in the development of a number of ecological standards such as Pure Wear, bioRe® and the IVN standard, and has since 1999 been a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the German DTNW Textiles Research Centre in Krefeld. Mr Borgschulze has extensive project experience across the continent from Europe to Asia.


Source: Eco Textile News, Interstoff Asia Essential and Messe Frankfurt Hong Kong