L Brands 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 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 are committed to the goal of eliminating the discharge of the following 14 priority chemical categories in conjunction with the manufacturing of our apparel products by 2020:

  Chemical   Function
  Alkylphenols   Detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, softeners
  Azo Dyes   Dyestuffs, pigment prints
  Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants   Sleepwear
  Chlorinated solvents (TCE)   Paint, spot removers, metal cleaners
  Chlorobenzenes   Solvents, dyestuffs, insecticides
  Chlorophenols (PCP)   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











* Banned by L Brands since 2013

To meet this goal, we are working closely with our suppliers to ensure chemical purchases, manufacturing practices and the quality of water discharge are aligned with our commitment to eliminate certain 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 submitted by suppliers to ensure compliance with the MRSL
  • In-person 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

The follow 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:  L Brands eliminated the need for PFCs and other stain/water repellent finishes from its assortment and began collecting baseline wastewater testing data from its suppliers.

2014:  L Brands adopted the ZDHC MRSL, implemented its wastewater testing program* and began working with suppliers to complete chemical inventories and attend chemical management trainings on an annual basis.

2015:  L Brands began working with second tier suppliers to hold trainings for their chemical suppliers on eliminating hazardous substances.

2016:  L Brands began on-site audits of chemical management and worked with suppliers on subsequent corrective action plans. L Brands also launched their “train the trainers” program, where first tier vendors were empowered to offer chemical management training for their direct suppliers.

* Included 90 percent of apparel supply chain by volume

L Brands sees its wastewater testing program as a key element in tracking progress towards the goal of eliminating targeted chemicals.  Water is collected from suppliers at four sampling points:

  • incoming water
  • pre-treated wastewater
  • post-treated wastewater
  • sludge

In 2015, 90 percent of suppliers in L Brands apparel supply chain were included in the program.  By 2016, this number grew to 95 percent. A summary of results from the last four years are provided in the infographic below.

While the environmental performance of our supply chain has improved significantly during the past few years, there is always more work to be done as new suppliers are brought on board. However, as L Brands’ experience working with suppliers on these issues grows and matures, chemical issues are identified, diagnosed and resolved with greater efficiency and agility.

CASE STUDY L Brands’ multi-faceted approach to testing and supplier engagement resulted in the elimination of a priority chemical.

To ensure that we are moving expeditiously and with the best thought leadership, the company is a signatory member of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), an apparel and footwear brand-led alliance formed to set a new standard for environmental performance by leading the global industry towards zero discharge of targeted chemicals for all products and all pathways in their supply chains by 2020.


Ninety-five percent of China facilities also report their water testing data on the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) platform.

This chemical management training module published by the apparel industry collaborative, Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), describes best practices in the textile industry for removing hazardous chemicals and replacing them with environmentally friendly substitutions. When a chemical that has a preferred alternative available is discovered either in the chemical inventory or wastewater discharge of an L Brands supplier, we encourage the vendor to discuss the alternative(s) with their chemical suppliers.

View the agreement that L Brands and Greenpeace entered into in January 2013.