Press Release

New PFAS Scorecard for Popular Apparel Brands: Levi Strauss Earns an 'A+', Outdoor Brands Fail

Mel Mendez
mmendez@nrdc.org, (212) 727-4442

WASHINGTON — NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.), Fashion FWD, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a first-of-its kind scorecard ranking PFAS policy commitments from a swath of leading retail and apparel brands. Levi Strauss & Co. earned the highest mark for already eliminating PFAS from its supply chain. However, global brands like Macy’s, Inc., Nordstrom, Costco, and others received low or failing marks. 

Popular outdoor brands largely received poor grades–despite vocal customer bases being concerned with environmental and public health. Columbia Sportswear, REI, Wolverine Worldwide (parent company of Wolverine and Merrell), and others received “F”s. Patagonia Inc. earned a “B”, the highest score in the sector, as the only outdoor brand with a commitment to phase out all PFAS in all products by 2024.

PFAS are a large class of toxic “forever chemicals” that pose an immediate threat to air, water, and consumer product safety across the United States. The class of chemicals are highly mobile and hard to break down, resulting in widespread contamination in the environment with inefficient options for mass cleaning. When ingested, PFAS have been linked to health problems like cancer, liver damage, weakened immune systems, and developmental problems in children.

The following are statements from co-authors of the scorecard:

“This scorecard empowers consumers to use their shopping power for good. Commitments from major apparel brands and retailers, alongside comprehensive policy changes, can significantly help combat PFAS pollution. It is especially unacceptable and ironic for the outdoor apparel space to have scored as poorly as they did. We need to hold multibillion dollar outdoor brands like Columbia accountable for exacerbating the PFAS crisis.” - Sujatha Bergen, Director, Health Campaigns, NRDC

“Many companies fail to label PFAS use in their products as well as use outdated definitions and misleading terminology in their commitments around PFAS that are inconsistent with the majority of the international and scientific communities. These outdated definitions and lack of labeling can result in consumer confusion around whether the products they purchase contain PFAS and prevent them from making the best choice for themselves, their families, and the environment.” - Alexandra Quinn, Founder and CEO, Fashion FWD

“PFAS contamination can occur throughout the entire lifecycle of clothing manufacturing. It pollutes our waters, can be ingested by children in the home, winds up in landfills, or incinerated and passed into the air. To effectively address PFAS contamination, clothing brands must stop using dangerous forever chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives.” - Emily Rogers, Advocate, Zero Out Toxics, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Additional Resources:

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Fashion FWD is a U.S. nonprofit on a mission to eliminate the negative effects on humans and the environment from chemicals used in textile manufacturing by driving better consumer purchases and improved brand practices. We do this through driving consumer education and action. Visit us at www.fashionfwd.org and follow us on instagram @fashion_FWD to get involved and learn more.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.

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