Dick’s bans forever chemicals in its clothing supply chain

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Dive Brief:

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods has added PFAS, sometimes called “forever chemicals,” to its restricted substance list, banning them from the production of its own brand textile products, according to a news release from Toxic-Free Future.
  • Items on the list of restricted substances for the Seattle-based outdoor and athletic retailer are identified by governmental or academic research “to cause human health hazard or negative environmental impact.” Dick’s’ restricted substances apply to all of its vendors and suppliers.
  • The company’s move follows a similar decision by outdoor retailer REI and the passing of state laws which restrict forever chemicals in apparel and textiles, per a news release from Toxic-Free Future.

Dive Insight:

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are chemicals used in products that are often marketed as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing, according to TFF. They have been linked to various medical conditions and are colloquially called “forever” because they don’t break down in the environment.

The list of chemicals from Dick’s doesn’t address the use of restricted substances in the manufacturing of a product, only the presence of a restricted substance in a finished product.

“In the apparel and footwear supply chain, certain types of fibers and materials are more likely to contain restricted substances,” the Dick’s policy reads. “DSG private brands require products or material testing prior to shipment to ensure that articles comply with this RSL.”

In 2022, California and New York passed legislation restricting PFAS in textiles. The guidelines of Dick’s products reference this change in compliance with California’s law, but the change in Dick’s products is nationwide.

“Dick’s Sporting Goods has taken critical action by saying no to dangerous PFAS chemicals in its own-brand textiles,” Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future, said in the release. “When our testing found these dangerous chemicals in their products last year, we knew that action must be taken. No one’s drinking water should be polluted for a raincoat. Though this is a major step forward, Dick’s Sporting Goods must now work with suppliers to evaluate the safety of alternatives, to avoid replacing one toxic substance with another. And other retailers must also take action towards achieving healthier and more sustainable products.”

Toxic-Free Future released a study in 2022 which found PFAS in jackets and textiles sold at Dick’s, among other brands including REI. The report found that 72% of items marketed as stain- or water-resistant contained PFAS, while none of the 13 items studied without stain or water resistance marketing appeared to contain PFAS.

That report examined 10 retailers — Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Macy’s, REI, Target, TJX, and Walmart — and none of them were fully PFAS-free.

Dick’s didn’t respond to Fashion Dive’s request for comment ahead of press time.

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