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Market opportunities for „Sustainable Chemistry“ through the REACH Regulation

This research project is done by sofia (Society for Institutional Analysis) at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt in cooperation with BSI (Federal Association of the German sports goods industry) and TEGEWA (Association of textile- and leather chemicals manufacturers).

The project is funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU).


Chemicals are used in every industry sector along the global supply chain. In fact, the textile industry uses around 7.000 different chemical products for the production of textile and fashion goods. Some of the chemicals are not problematic but others are dangerous for the human health and the environment.



Both on global, European and national level there are initiatives which aim to reduce the negative impact of chemicals on human health and the environment. The REACH Regulation, ZDHC coalition and the global chemical management initiatives by (SAICM) are just a few examples. However, as one cannot expect  legal authorities to regulate all products with problematic chemicals, change along the textile supply chain is needed.



One solution is to generate this change through the creation of market opportunities for proactive companies who drive innovation towards a more sustainable chemistry.

Therefore relevant actors like the producers of textile chemicals as well as the brands and retailors need to overcome several barriers which prevent proactive thinking and action taking.


Three core fields of action

  • Mobilising an innovation driven demand “pull”
  • Defining the requirements for a system which is used to communicate information on products along the global supply chain
  • Implementing dialogue formats to discuss the question, how a “warning system” in respect to regulative processes and problematic products could look like and what are the challenges for proactive firms

Milestone: The Scenario method and strategy workshop

It became clear that the actors need a common understanding on the changes needed along the textile supply chain to, firstly, reach a more sustainable chemistry and, secondly, to make related market opportunities accessible. Therefore a multilevel scenario process with the title “The textile industry in 2030” in combination with a finalising strategy workshop was organised. The goals were that the actors realise what are the challenges of tomorrow and at the same time to identify the resulting development potentials as well as the needs for action.

Two fictive scenarios were identified by several stakeholders.

Scenario 1: Muddling through (pdf)

Several influencing factors lead to the situation that the textile industry develops as before. Thus gradual, more evolutionary progress towards the handling of chemicals is made.

Scenario 2: Boldly ahead (pdf)

Influencing factors create a situation where the chemical management in the textile supply chain has changed fundamentally and the value chain is (largely) free of problematic substances.


The follow up strategy workshop aimed to show which strategic actions are supporting the textile industry to reach a progress towards the status “boldly ahead”.



Besides the scenario process, which took place near the end of the research project other methods were used. The analysis of the incentives and barriers for the relevant actors as a basis was crucial to understand the actors’ situation.

Go to the German project website