Next, Asda & Burton still sourcing from polluting viscose factories - report

Major high street brands including Next, Asda and Burton have been named in a new report about polluting viscose factories in India and Indonesia.


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According to an investigation by Changing Markets Foundation, these brands are still sourcing viscose from factories which have been found to be contaminating local water sources, among other harmful practices.

The two factories are located in Madhya Pradesh, India and West Java, Indonesia, and are owned by Aditya Birla Group, a $50 billion global conglomerate headquartered in Mumbai that is currently the world’s biggest producer of viscose.

Investigators commissioned by Changing Markets Foundation said the sites in India were characterised by visible and strong-smelling pollution, which had turned the water dark red, and found that the level of carbon disulphide - a toxic chemical used in viscose production - was 125 times the World Health Organization guideline value.

Meanwhile, the investigation in Indonesia found evidence of illegal discharges into the river, where children were seen bathing. Farmers were also found to be using the river water for irrigation and fish farming.

Natasha Hurley, Campaign Manager at Changing Markets, commented: “Our investigation suggests that Aditya Birla Group is failing to live up to its sustainability claims. Brands buying from the company should look beyond the green spin to understand what is really happening on the ground, where local residents’ and workers’ lives are blighted by pollution on a daily basis.”

The foundation said several brands and retailers including Inditex, H&M, Asos, Tesco and M&Se have joined new efforts to make viscose manufacturing more ethical and eco-friendly.

Whilst viscose has the potential to be a largely sustainable fibre, its manufacturing requires hazardous chemicals, which can be deadly for people and ecosystems if managed badly.

Changing Markets Foundation called on Aditya Birla Group to hire an external auditor to investigate workers’ health and safety at its sites, and said brands and retailers should join its new ‘Roadmap towards responsible viscose and modal fibre manufacturing’.

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