GLOSSARY

WORDS AND ACRONYMS FROM THE SUSTAINABILITY DICTIONARY

  • [AOX] Adsorbable organic halogen compounds

    A group of chemicals that can be present in water and adsorbed on activated charcoal. Most AOXs are chlorine-containing compounds, but some also contain similar elements, bromine or iodine. AOX properties vary: some easily evaporate (such as trichloromethane or chloroform); others are complex molecules such as dioxins and furans. The main sources of AOX are chlorine-based chemicals used to whiten fibers in the textile industry but above all in paper and cellulose. Small quantities are also formed during chlorination (disinfection) of drinking water, swimming pools and industrial effluents.

    Some AOXs are toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, even at low concentrations. Many are persistent and tend to accumulate in the environment. AOX exposure to humans can occur through the consumption of contaminated foods and the fact that AOX accumulates in the food chain causes humans to be exposed to hazardous levels. The type and severity of the effects depend on the AOX component to which it is exposed. Some, like dioxins, are known to be very toxic.

     

  • [APEOs] Alkylphenol Ethoxylates

    A group of nonionic surfactants, the most commonly used being Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPEO) and ottylphenol ethoxylated (OPEO). The chemical structure of these molecules has led to widespread use in textile processes, particularly in wet processes, for their dispersing, detergent and emulsifying action.

    APEOs are dangerous for the environment and for aquatic organisms. Recent studies confirm that APEOs are potential endocrine disruptors, as well as being highly bio-accumulative and persistent. APEOs are already subject to restrictions in Europe since 2005. EU Directive 2003/53 / EG prohibited the use of NPEO, the main APEO group, in concentrations above 0.1% in chemical formulations. However, the presence of this group of substances in the processes of European companies and end products may be induced by semi-finished products and chemicals produced in countries where APEO is permitted. In 2017, ECHA (European Chemicals Agency, established by the REACH Regulation) gave a favorable opinion on the European market for imported products containing APEO.

     

  • [Biomass]

    Biomass is defined as the biodegradable fraction of products, waste and residues of biological origin from agriculture (including plant and animal substances), forestry and related industries, including fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the biodegradable part of industrial waste and urban (EU-Directive 2003/54 / EC).

     

  • [Biopolymers]

    Polymers obtained through biological processes. They can be of synthetic origin such as derived from some polyesters, polyester amides or from alcohol, or derived from materials of biological origin and therefore renewable (eg starch).

    The European Bioplastics Association distinguishes:

    Biodegradable Polymers with compostability approved on the basis of EN 13432. In this case the source (renewable or fossil fuel) is not relevant for the definition

    – and Polymers based on renewable source. In this case they could be biodegradable or not.

     

  • [Bluesign]

    An independent industrial textile standard developed in Switzerland in 2000, built around the principles of resource productivity, consumer safety, air emission, water use and emission and occupational health and safety. It is an increasingly recognised standard to follow for sustainable wet processing and is a tool which enables improved sources efficiency along the whole of the textiles supply chain.

     

  • [Carbon footprint]

    A measure of the environmental impact of a life style or an activity in terms of  CO₂ units. It is calculated as he weighted sum of the greenhouse gases generated within the life cycle of a product/service or by an organization. Expressed in terms of CO2eq, it is the human contribution to the natural greenhouse effect.

    the primary footprint is the sum of the direct carbon dioxide emissions of burning of fossil fuels, like domestic energy consumption and transportation.

    the secondary footprint is the sum of indirect emissions associated with the manufacture and breakdown of all products, services and food an individual or business consumes.

     

  • [Circular Economy]

    The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines Circular Economy as an economic model “Restorative and regenerative by design” in which growth is decoupled from the consumption of planet resources (natural capital). In a circular economy, material streams can be classified into two types: biological (renewable) materials that can be cyclically reintegrated into the biosphere and non-renewable technical (cyclically-regenerated) materials that can be recycled with a minimum loss of quality and value, without being reintegrated into the biosphere.

    This model contrasts with the traditional linear economy which is based on resources exhaustion, a legacy of a historical phase in which resources (natural capital) were considered abundant and inexhaustible, which can be summarized in the slogan “take-make-dispose ” .

    From an economic point of view, moving from a linear model to a circular model involves shifting attention from the productivity of human and financial capital to the productivity of natural resources (natural capital).

     

  • [CO₂ Offsetting]

    A compensatory action by an individual or a firm to neutralize its direct and indirect CO2 eq emissions. It is normally accomplished by the economic support of projects to increase CO₂ absorption, such as trees planting or avoiding greenhouse gases emissions (eg. production from renewable energy sources).

     

  • [CO₂eq equivalent]

    It is the unit by which is measured the Carbon Footprint of a product, process, or organization. It represents the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (CH4, N2O, HFC, etc.) associated with a product (a good or a service) throughout its entire life cycle, thus representing the actual and overall contribution of that human activity to the global greenhouse effect.  The use of CO2e allows to bundles of greenhouse gases to be expressed as a single number and easily compare different bundles of GHGs in terms of their total global warming impact.

     

  • [Cradle-to-Cradle]

    Defines production techniques that are essentially waste free and aimed to reuse pre and post-consumer waste. In cradle-to-cradle production, all material inputs and outputs exist in a technical or biological cycle. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused without quality loss and organic nutrients composted or consumed for example as fertilizers.

     

  • [DETOX] Greenpeace campaign

    In July 2011, Greenpeace launched the Detox My Fashion Campaign with the aim of freeing fashion from the hazardous chemicals. The Greenpeace campaign urged fashion companies to engage to reach practical and clearly defined goals according to a defined timetable to ban hazardous chemicals. The part of the Detox commitment, which has hitherto led to major changes in the industry, is about the ban of 11 groups of hazardous chemicals that if released in the environment accumulate along the food chain and in the human organism . The eleven groups of substances are: Alkylphenols (APEO) (see glossary entry); Phthalates; Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants; Azo dyes (Amine); Organotin compounds, perfluorocarbons (PFCs) (see Glossary); chlorobenzenes; Chlorinated solvents; chlorophenols; Chlorinated Short Chain Paraffins (SSCPs); Heavy metals (see glossary entry).

    The Greenpeace Detox commitment is a moral, unilateral and public commitment taken by the firm that subscribes to it. In addition to goals and deadlines, the Detox commitment sets out some general principles for which the company:
    – shares the urgent need to eliminate the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment;
    – adopts the precautionary principle that  measures should be taken even when there is no conclusive scientific evidence of the hazards of a chemical substance. Preventive actions include the analysis of all possible technical alternatives and / or the development of alternative solutions when these do not already exist. Where there are no technical solutions for the replacement of hazardous substances that allow for equal levels of quality and are economically acceptable, the action required is the promotion of initiatives that may in the future lead to the implementation of the technical solutions;
    – commits the elimination of life-threatening substances from the products they produce or sell, including all the processes associated with their production in their supply chain;
    – agrees with the principle that the elimination of hazardous substances requires transparency in their use throughout the supply chain;
    – recognizes that a strong system of monitoring and supervision is necessary to comply with the efforts to eliminate hazardous substances;
    – undertakes to publish on its website all the commitment documents and the evidence the company meets the commitment.

    By 2017, 28 fashion brands and 53 manufacturers have so far signed the commitment.

     

  • [Eco Passport Oeko-Tex]

    A certification system through which textile chemicals suppliers demonstrate that they can be used for sustainable textile production. The ECO PASSPORT program offers two distinct yet complementary stages:

    – Stage 1: Restricted Substance List (RSL) and Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) screening

    – Stage 2: Analytical verification performed in an OEKO-TEX® member institute laboratory

    Products passing the requirements of all two processes earn the ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® certification and will be entered into the OEKO-TEX® buying guide which is the OEKO-TEX® central sourcing platform of pre-certified articles and materials.

     

  • [Ecodesign]

    The integration of environmental aspects into the product design in order to improve the environmental performance throughout its life cycle.

     

  • [Environmental Certifications]

    Tools adopted by organizations and companies wishing to quantify and manage the environmental footprint of their activities, communicating their commitment transparently through an official and documented recognition. Certifications can be about products (eg Ecolabel,  Environmental Product Declarations-EPD) and or process (eg Environmental Management System, EMAS).

    To achieve product certifications, technical tools are used to evaluate environmental impacts along the life cycle of goods and services such as the Life Cycle Assessment-LCA (also referred to as the carbon footprint and the water footprint). There are also certifications meant for public administrations and aimed at reducing the environmental impact of purchasing procedures of Public Administration (Green Public Procurement – GPP).

    They are useful tools for sustainable development, as certified organizations take concrete action to limit their environmental impacts both direct (from their own activities) and indirect (environmental aspects on which that may have some influence), improve emissions reduction, encourage recycling and good environmental practices. The main commitment of the certified organization is the continuous improvement policy of their environmental performance.

     

  • [Environmental footprint]

    A measure of the environmental burden due to a product or organization,

     

  • [Formaldehyde]

    A volatile organic compound present in nature in small quantities. Large quantities can cause burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. Long term exposition can lead to an increase in the risk of cancer.
    The ECHA (European Chemical Agency) highlights the danger. According to the harmonised classification and labelling (ATP06) approved by the European Union, this substance is toxic if swallowed, it causes severe skin burns and eye damage, can cause cancer and is suspected of causing genetic alterations.

     

  • [GOTS] Global Organic Textile Standard

    A worldwide textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The aim is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status for textiles, from harvesting of raw materials, through manufacturing up to labeling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.

     

  • [Green Chemistry]

    The Green Chemistry is  based on criteria, priorities and goals that derive from the scientific knowledge of chemistry to guide the applications of this discipline towards sustainable modes.

    The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, first propounded by Anastas and Warner  (Anastas, P. T.; Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York, 1998, p.30. ) are a widely accepted set of criteria for assessing the “greenness” or environmental acceptability of processes for the manufacture of chemical products:

    1. It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.
    2. Synthetic methods should be designed to maximise the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
    3. Wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
    4. Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficiency of function while reducing toxicity.
    5. The use of auxiliary substances (e.g. solvents, separation agents, etc) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and, innocuous when used.
    6. Energy requirements should be recognised for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimised. Synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
    7. A raw material of feedstock should be renewable rather depleting wherever technically and economically practicable.
    8. Unnecessary derivatisation (blocking group, protection/deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be avoided whenever possible.
    9. Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
    10. Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they do not persist in the environment and break down into innocuous degradation products.
    11. Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
    12. Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen so as to minimise the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions and fires.

     

  • [GWP] Global Warming Potential

    It represents the “climatic alteration capacity” of a greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is assigned a GWP of 1; gases with a higher GWP have a greater effect on climate change. For example, methane has a GWP of 25, meaning that 1 Kg of methane released in the atmosphere has “greenhouse impact” equivalent to 25 Kg of CO2.

     

  • [Heavy Metals]

    Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements. Their multiple applications have led to their wide distribution in the environment; raising concerns over their potential effects on human health and the environment. Because of their high degree of toxicity, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury rank among the priority metals that are of public health significance. These metallic elements are considered systemic toxicants that are known to induce multiple organ damage, even at lower levels of exposure and are also classified as human carcinogens. Their presence in textile products and production cycles, due to their generalized toxicity and the high environmental impact, is increasingly monitored  by both legislation and ecological quality labels.

     

  • [Higg Index]

    It is a products sustainability measurement system. Launched in 2012, it was developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and other nonprofit entities. The Higg Index delivers a holistic overview of the sustainability performance of a product or company. The index includes a suite of self-assessment tools that empower apparel and footwear industry brands, retailers and facilities to measure their environmental and social and labor impacts and identify areas for improvement. 

     

  • [LCA] Life Cycle Assessment

    Technical methodology for assessing the environmental footprint of a product or service throughout its life cycle. According to Iso 14040/14044, four operational phases are planned:

    -Definition of objectives and scope (purpose, functional unit, system boundaries, i.e. activities and/or processes taken into account)

    -Inventory: quantification of the inputs and related emissions for each phase of the life cycle,

    -Impact Assessment: Determines the potential effects of the system on the environment based on specific impact categories,

    -Interpretation of the results: it allows to identify the results obtained by an action to mitigate the environmental impact and the areas of improvement.

     

  • [M-RSL] Manufacturing Restricted Substances List

    List of hazardous chemicals subject to restrictions, up to complete elimination, during production and discharge into the environment during processing.

     

  • [Oeko-Tex 100]

    Global standard issued in 1992 by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology (Oeko-Tex). Is an independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materials used. Tissues and products with this certification have a specific set of harmful substances below the set limit values.

     

  • [PFAS] PerfluoroAlkyl Substances

    It is a class of chemicals introduced since the 50s to make it waterproof and grease and dirt resistant different materials including fabrics.

    PFAS are very persistent in the environment and if ingested or inhaled in the human body. Do not degrade when exposed to air, water or sunlight. In 2006, the European Union introduced restrictions on the use of PFOS, one of the most widely used PFAS molecules, to be applied by Member States.

     

  • [PFCs] PerFluoroCarbons

    They are artificial substances widely used by the industry for non-stick, hydro-and oleo-repellent properties. In the textile industry, they are used to produce waterproof and stain-resistant leather and fabrics. Tests show that many PFCs are difficult to dispose of because they persist in the environment and may accumulate in the tissues and increase their level through contamination of the food chain. Once assimilated by the body, some PFCs have effects on the liver and, as endocrine disrupters, can alter growth levels and hormone reproduction.

     

  • [Product end of life]

    The state of a product having reached the end of its first use until its final disposal, reuse or recycle.

     

  • [REACH] Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals

    EC Regulation n. 1907/2006. The main objective of REACH is to improve knowledge of the dangers and risks arising from existing chemicals (those introduced before September 1981) and new ones (after September 1981) and at the same time maintain and strengthen competitiveness and the innovative capabilities of the European chemical industry. REACH is an integrated registration, evaluation and authorization system for chemicals that aims to ensure a higher level of protection of human health and the environment. Through REACH, you will get more comprehensive information on:

    – the hazardous properties of the manipulated products

    – exposure hazards

    – the safety measures to be applied.

    “Extremely dangerous” substances are included in a specific list (Annex XIV of the Regulation) and may be marketed for specific and controlled uses and only on request by the companies and only if authorized by the European Commission.

    The REACH Regulation, consisting of 141 articles and 17 technical annexes, provides for the establishment of a European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), headquartered in Helsinki (Finland). ECHA has the role of technical and scientific coordination of the activities under the REACH Regulation, first, organizing a database to collect and manage data provided for the registration of the substances, in order to ensure public access to information on chemicals.

     

  • [SA-8000]

    A social certification standard for production activities and organizations. It was established by Social Accountability International in 1997 as a multi-stakeholder initiative. Over the years, the Standard has evolved into an overall framework that helps certified organizations demonstrate their dedication to the fair treatment of workers across industries and in any country. The Standard reflects labor provisions contained within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.

     

  • [VOCs] Volatile Organic Compounds

    Volatile organic substances of different type and origin (eg hydrocarbons, paint solvents, essential oils, etc.) which can contaminate the environment by diffusing into the atmosphere and affecting people’s health. (EC Directive 1999/13/EC -Solvent Emissions Directive)

     

  • [Water footprint]

    It is an indicator of direct and indirect use of water in the production of a product or delivery of a service, in a lifecycle logic. The footprint is measured in terms of the volumes of water consumed (evaporated or incorporated into a product) and/or polluted per unit of time.

     

  • [ZDHC] Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals

    A coalition that includes 22 signatory brands, 24 value chain affiliates, and ten associates. Started in 2011, the ZDHC Programme aims to eliminate or substitute priority hazardous chemicals in products and their manufacture, apply a transparent screening process to promote and support safer chemistry, implement common tools, best practices and training that advance chemical stewardship. The coalition partners with stakeholders to promote chemical use and discharge transparency.

     

  • Zero waste

    Design and management of products and processes to systematically eliminate and reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, preserve and recover all resources.