Chemical Specifications for Restricted Substances

A fundamental element of most brands’ chemical management system is a restricted substance list (RSL). In the ever evolving regulatory landscape it is virtually impossible (in many cases unacceptable) for a brand to operate without one. Contrary to the name, a RSL is much more than just a list, it has to be at the heart of a brand’s chemical management system with appropriate policing measures in place and robust systems to deal with chemical failures. This is to ensure that brands are not placing illegal products on the market and to protect the health and safety of not only the consumer but also the workers and the environment.

With increasing numbers of brands developing their own RSL, many suppliers are eager for the development of a single, harmonised RSL. In 2011, a group of major apparel and footwear brands and retailers made a shared commitment to help lead the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. Currently, the members committed to ZDHC include Burberry Group PLC, Esprit, H&M, NIKE Inc, Jack Wolfskin and Levi Strauss & Co to name a few. A major milestone for the ZDHC brands came in the form of the ‘Manufacturing Restricted Substance List’ (MRSL) and there is ongoing work to release the leather MRSL and various other materials.

“A fundamental element of most brands’ chemical management system is a restricted substance list (RSL).”

The influence of campaigns such as ZDHC has resulted in attention from the consumers and the public are becoming increasingly more knowledgeable on the subject of the effect of chemicals may have on their health and the environment. Additionally, litigation is now commonplace in society with informed consumers benefiting from product safety laws, for example California Proposition 65. Consequently, the supply chain need to establish achievable goals, monitor compliance and address failures in order to conquer the complexities of today’s evolving regulatory landscape.

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