At Victoria’s Secret & Co., we’re focused on partnering with our vendors and other industry leaders to promote environmentally sensitive practices throughout each facet of our garment production, including attention to chemical management in wastewater.
Victoria’s Secret & Co. is focused on partnering with its vendors and other industry leaders to promote environmentally sensitive practices. This philosophy permeates throughout each facet of our garment production, including attention to chemical management in wastewater. We have adopted the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) and the Oeko-Tex® 100 Standard harmful substances value limits as our Restricted Substances List (RSL) to guide us and our suppliers in environmentally responsible product design, development and manufacturing. More specifically, we have built a chemical management program aimed at eliminating the discharge of the following 14 priority chemical categories in conjunction with the manufacturing of our lingerie and apparel products:
|AP & APEOs||Detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, softeners|
|Banned Dyes (azo, disperse, carcinogenic or equivalent concern)||Dyestuffs, pigment prints|
|Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants||Sleepwear|
|Halogenated solvents (TCE)||Paint, spot removers, metal cleaners|
|Chlorobenzenes||Solvents, dyestuffs, insecticides|
|Chlorophenols||Insect control, fungicides|
|Glycols||Softeners, anti-static agents|
|Heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium VI)||Dyestuffs, leather tanning, paints, alloys, pesticides|
|Organotin compounds||Catalysts, inks, paints|
|Perfluorinated chemicals*||Water, oil and stain repellents|
|Phthalates||Flexible plastic components, e.g. PVC, print pastes|
|Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)||Rubber/plastic components, lubricants|
|Short-chain chlorinated paraffins||Flame retardants, leather greasing|
|Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)||Adhesives, textile finishes|
*PFOA and PFOS banned by Victoria’s Secret & Co. as a part of L Brands since 2013 and became a standalone company as of August 2021.
**The full list of priority chemical categories can be found in the MRSL.
Our chemical management program relies on close collaboration with our suppliers to ensure chemical purchases, manufacturing practices and the quality of water discharge are aligned with our commitment to eliminate priority substances. Engagement activities include:
- Sourcing agreements with suppliers outlining their accountability in the ban and removal of the 14 priority chemical groups
- Annual training on chemical management best practices
- Review of chemical inventories and supporting documentation
- In-person and virtual audits of suppliers’ chemical management and manufacturing practices and subsequent follow-up on corrective action plans
- Regular testing of on-site water and waste streams
Our chemical management audits include review of:
- Supplier’s chemical storage and handling practices
- Environmental permits, personal protective equipment and safety policies
- Management’s commitment to achieving zero discharge of the priority chemicals
- Presence of technical staff person(s) with the required competencies to operationalize improved chemical management
The following timeline outlines when each of these engagement activities was implemented, as well as other important milestones on our journey to ensure environmentally sensitive manufacturing:
2013: Began collecting baseline wastewater testing data from its suppliers and working with design teams to eliminate the need for PFCs and other stain/water repellent finishes from its assortment.
2014: Adopted the ZDHC MRSL, and began working with suppliers making up 90% of our business volume to test wastewater, complete chemical inventories and attend chemical management trainings on an annual basis.
2015: Officially directed all suppliers to not intentionally add PFCs (regardless of chain length) to Victoria’s Secret & Co. apparel products nor use them in the manufacturing process of fabrics, trims or components intended for use in those final products. Victoria’s Secret & Co also began working with second tier vendors to hold trainings for their chemical suppliers on eliminating hazardous substances.
2016: Began on-site audits of suppliers’ chemical management procedures. Launched the “train the trainers” program, where first tier vendors were empowered to offer chemical management training for their direct suppliers.
2017: Implemented use of an external chemical management software platform to all major suppliers making up more than 50% of our business. Use of this platform maximizes the brand’s visibility of chemicals used in the supply chain and provides suppliers with a powerful tool for chemical management.
2018: Expanded our chemical management program to include more suppliers, including some of relatively smaller size and from new countries.
2021: We set a target for core lingerie and apparel suppliers to use 100% of certified MRSL-Compliant chemicals on products by 2030.
Victoria’s Secret & Co. sees its wastewater testing program as a key element in tracking progress towards the goal of eliminating targeted chemicals.
We conduct regular testing on our lingerie and apparel suppliers’ wastewater to ensure progress toward our goal of eliminating targeted chemicals. We have collected wastewater testing data from our suppliers since 2014 and worked with them to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their discharge.
We require our wet-processing suppliers to have their wastewater tested annually by a ZDHC-approved third-party lab. If a chemical listed on our MRSL is found in above-acceptable limits in treated or untreated water, we work with the supplier to identify the source of that chemical and to find a compliant alternative. Sometimes the chemical is generated during production. In these cases, we work with suppliers to identify adjustments to be made to the production process to prevent the generation of this chemical. We then require them to have their wastewater retested to verify the restricted chemical is no longer present.
In 2021, more than 90 percent of our wet-processing suppliers were included in the wastewater program. Among the facilities tested, 88 percent had passing results for MRSL levels, 93 percent for heavy metals and 86 percent for other conventional parameters.
Since 2015, suppliers making up 90% of Victoria’s Secret & Co.’s lingerie and apparel business volume were included in the chemical management testing and verification program. This percentage has been maintained every year since then. A summary of results from wastewater testing over the last five years are provided in the table below.
We have seen the water discharged by our suppliers improve significantly during the past few years, as they continuously improve their chemical management practices. However, there is always more work to be done as new suppliers are brought on board. Thus, Victoria’s Secret & Co. is committed to maintaining the progress it has achieved by holding new suppliers to this higher standard and accompanying them to institute chemical management best practices.
We continue to work with our long-time partners to diagnose new issues and seek out solutions with ever greater efficiency and agility. We believe collective action is key to moving the industry forward and we are committed to working with other brands and supply chain partners on more sustainable manufacturing. Towards this aim, we are proud to have reached aspirational level, the highest category of success, in ZDHC’s Brands to Zero Program in 2021.