Polluting Paradise: Big Brands Including Gap Exposed in Indonesian Toxic Water Scandal

For Immediate Release

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Szabina Mozes, Greenpeace International Communications; email: szabina.mozes@greenpeace.org, mobile: +31 646 16 20 23

Polluting Paradise: Big Brands Including Gap Exposed in Indonesian Toxic Water Scandal

JAKARTA - Greenpeace International investigations have revealed the dumping of industrial wastewater containing a cocktail of toxic and hazardous chemicals, and caustic water, directly into the Citarum River, West Java. International fashion brands, including Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy are linked to this pollution through their direct business relations with PT Gistex Group; the company behind the polluting facility.

“Gap’s latest advertising campaign declares that we should ‘Be Bright’, but by collaborating with toxic suppliers Gap’s clothes are turning the Citarum into a multi-coloured mess. Gap and other big brands need to work with their suppliers in Indonesia and elsewhere to urgently eliminate all uses of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products before it is too late,” said Ashov Birry, Toxic-Free Water Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The report “Toxic Threads: Polluting Paradise” published today, details how the PT Gistex facility has taken advantage of a system that requires little transparency about its activities and where inadequate laws are failing to prevent the release of hazardous chemicals. Other companies linked to the PT Gistex Group include Brook Brothers – which has outfitted 39 of the 44 American Presidents, including Barack Obama – Marubeni Corporation, Adidas Group and H&M. 

A wide range of hazardous substances – including nonylphenol and tributyl phosphate – were identified in the water samples taken from the PT Gistex facility’s discharge outfalls. Many of these chemicals are toxic, while some have hormone-disrupting and highly persistent properties. The investigations also revealed wastewater from one of the smaller outfalls to be extremely alkaline or ‘caustic’ (pH 14) indicating that this wastewater had not received even the most basic treatment before discharge.

“People living along this river, that rely upon its water, have a right to know what is being released into it, and the customers of the international brands like Gap have a right to know what chemicals are being used to make their clothes,” added Birry.

The textile industry is currently one of the major contributors to industrial toxic water pollution in West-Java, with 68% of industrial facilities on the Upper Citarum producing textiles. Greenpeace’s Detox campaign demands fashion brands commit to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 and work with their suppliers around the world to disclose all releases of hazardous chemicals from their facilities to communities at the site of the water pollution. Launched in July 2011, the campaign has already convinced 17 international brands including Valentino, Levi’s and Zara to commit to Detox, mobilising over a half a million activists, fashionistas, bloggers and designers united by a belief that beautiful fashion needn’t cost the Earth.

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Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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