The implementation of “Roadmap to Zero” programme of ZDHC continues at full speed, involving collaborations of brands, manufacturers and chemical companies from all over the world to achieve the common goal of eliminating dangerous chemicals substances from the fashion industry. The holistic approach of ZDHC (acronym for Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) has made it possible through tools development for a more responsible chemical management, establishing new standards for production processes control, for wastewater discharges and by promoting training activities. In recent years, under the pressure of fashion brands, ZDHC has seen that the chemical-tanning industry dedicated an increasing attention to this topic: some evidences are the adhesion of UNIC – Concerie Italiane (Italian Tanneries) and UNPAC (National Union of Italian Tanning Auxiliary Producers to the ZDHC sustainability project.
To support companies in the elimination of hazardous chemicals, the MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substances List) is one of the most important tools, i.e. the list of chemicals placed on the market must be restricted or even eliminated: last year the second updated version, the so-called MRSL 2.0, has been published. In fact, by using formulations compliant with ZDHC MRSL, suppliers guarantee their customers that processes and products are not contaminated by substances considered dangerous.
Gateway is the second most important tool for users. A portal on chemical substances of which ZDHC has announced new features (see interview with Alessandra Tortora) consisting of two modules:

ZDHC Gateway – Chemical Module, a database that allows (chemical) formulators to share information on their products about the levels compliance (i.e. level 1,2,3) with respect to the ZDHC MRSL. Upon registration, access to this module is allowed all the Chemical Companies.

ZDHC Gateway – Wastewater Module, a library of all test reports performed on wastewater by wet & finishing processes, following the ZDHC Wastewater Guideline.

As part of an interesting Virtual meeting for the Southern Europe Region recently organised by ZDHC and dedicated to sustainability, was held a panel discussion entitled “Leather & Fashion Technology – Together for driving sustainable best practises in the leather sector” attended by important speakers of our country. Alessandra Tortora, Southern Europe Director of ZDHC, managed the panel and introduced the works by emphasising the importance of research and technological innovation in pursuing greater sustainability in the fashion sector. Among the participants also Maurizio Maggioni, secretary of UNPAC, National Union of Italian Tanning Auxiliary Producers, who announced the launch of an important study of LCA on tanning chemicals to be carried out together with a specialised partner. The aim is to define the so-called “category rules” for each type of chemical product, in order to photograph the real impact of each phase of the tanning process, from liming to finishing.
Fabiana Orlandi, sustainability expert of UNIC – Italian Tanneries, pointed out how the Covid-19 pandemic has in a certain sense accelerated the market demand for more sustainable processes. Technological innovation is one of the development drivers together with circularity, which does not only mean production wastes recovery but an increasingly conscious consumption of natural resources with careful monitoring on the use of chemical products. “It is necessary to work on the item designed by analysing and collecting LCA data of products and processes in order to be able to compare the different solutions”, explained Orlandi who also recalled the importance of promoting the information exchange and good practices, always thinking more at supply chain level.
For his part, Guido Zilli, sustainability manager of the Dani Group, recalled how the tannery from Veneto promotes sustainability policies through various tools and projects. A process that began over ten years ago which today means that the tannery is perceived as a proactive and low-risk subject by the most demanding customers. An honerous commitment that is also giving concrete results: “Our research activities have led to new products (as well as processes) that we now successfully offer to the market as the Zero Impact line”.
Aldo Gliozzi, director of Assoconciatori, also presented the peculiarities of the tanning district of Santa Croce which over the years has built an efficient consortium model to manage all environmental issues from water purification to the chromium recovery, fleshings and shaving wastes in a perspective of full circular economy.