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German sustainability initiative comes apart

Three years after its creation, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is losing members. This is a German initiative aimed at improving global textile manufacturing – from production of raw materials to disposal. An alliance was formed where every member was to regularly present a list of measures it had decided upon itself. The main thrust of these measures were to improve working conditions in the countries where companies' garments are actually being produced.

Yet, disillusionment has set in. Some large companies do not want to uphold certain social and environmental standards and do not want to be told which guidelines they have to follow. The Partnership's steering committee, which represents members from various production sectors, had determined that members must present concrete plans listing their self-declared obligations, so-called roadmaps, by the end of March 2017. But some 40 companies and associations refused to go along with the plan. They presented no specific steps to establish controls, and thus were forced to leave the Partnership.

In early 2017, some 190 members, including clothing industry giants such as Adidas and Gerry Weber as well as a number of unions and NGOs, belonged to the Partnership. Now it has 148 members.