Toxic Threads: Polluting Paradise A story of big brands and water pollution in Indonesia

Industrial wastewater containing hazardous chemicals discharged into the Cihaur River which feeds directly to Citarum River. Captions and image source: © Greenpeace
“The Citarum River was once a majestic river. More than 220km long, it winds down from the Wayang Mountain, south of Bandung, Indonesia, and flows out to sea in Pantai Bahagia, Bekasi. Its name is derived from the words ‘ci’ meaning water and ‘tarum’, a type of plant which produced indigo dye which used to thrive there. It was also once the boundary separating the 5th century kingdoms of Galuh and Sunda. Now, the Citarum River is a river of sorrow.” Captions: Cleaning up Citarum River, Cita-Citarum.

By Greenpeace,

Greenpeace International has commissioned a new investigation that delves even further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of high street fashion, going beyond previous investigations in China and Mexico. This latest report builds on the Detox campaign’s work, which reveals how textile manufacturing is a major contributor to water pollution in the Global South.

Our research focuses on a large textiles facility in Indonesia, where we found that a wide range of hazardous substances is being discharged directly into the Citarum River. The responsible facility is PT Gistex, located near Bandung in West Java – where the modern textile industry is concentrated – with 60% of production located in the Citarum River watershed. This factory undertakes polyester weaving and wet processing such as dyeing, printing, and finishing of polyester.

Greenpeace collected samples of wastewater discharged from the PT Gistex facility via three outfalls in May 2012. A diverse range of chemicals was identified in the samples, many with known hazardous properties. Some examples are toxic to aquatic life, while others are persistent pollutants, which means they will remain in the environment long after their release.

Greenpeace International investigations uncovered that several global fashion brands have had a business relationship with at least one part of PT Gistex Group, the company associated with the polluting facility (PT Gistex Textile Division) in Indonesia. To help solve the problem of hazardous chemicals contamination, transparency of information between suppliers and brands – as well as full supplier engagement through hazardous substance use inventories – is essential. Corporate and governmental policies to eliminate the releases of hazardous substances, and their substitution with safer alternatives, need to be enforced…

Original Article, Learn More, Greenpeace

Polluting Paradise: Big brands including Gap exposed in Indonesian toxic water scandal, Greenpeace
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…
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.

A Toxic Fairytale, Greenpeace
We call it the Citarum River. Ci and Tarum, “Ci” is water, and “Tarum” or indigo is a plant of the pea family that was widely cultivated over a century ago as a source of dark blue dye. It is also linked to the ‘Tarumanagara’ Kingdom, one of the country’s oldest Kingdoms, once victorious on the outskirts of the Citarum River. Today, millions of people depend on the river and surrounding area for agricultural and domestic use…
Today, the Citarum River has the reputation of being one of the dirtiest rivers in the world. It looks like a gigantic sewer. The water is tainted by toxic industrial waste, has a terrible odor and is filled with garbage…

Indonesian lives risked on ‘world’s most polluted’ river, AFP
With dozens of bright green rice paddies, flocks of kites in the sky and children laughing nearby, at first glance the village of Sukamaju in western Java has all the charms of rural Indonesia.
But the idyllic setting is spoiled by a strong stench rising from the Citarum river that flows in the distance, thick with mounds of garbage and plastic bags dumped on its banks.
This immense aquatic rubbish bin winds 297 kilometres (185 miles) across the island of Java, cutting through the sprawling Indonesian capital, Jakarta…

Photo Gallery: Toxic Threads: Polluting Paradise

Pollution in the Citarum river, Indonesia, Slideshow, Guardian UK

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