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Toxic Textiles: Towards Responsibility in Complex Supply Chains
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. natasja.borjeson@sh.se.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The governance of the environmental and health problems that follow in the wake of globalised trade is one of the great contemporary challenges. One of these challenges is the management of chemical pollution and associated risks, and one sector facing this challenge is the textile industry, which has complex supply chains spread across continents. At the same time the role of actors on the playing field are changing and market actors are being called on to responsibly manage the issue of chemical risks and associated challenges. However, governance and control are often obstructed due to complexity and considerable knowledge uncertainty. This situation complicates responsibility-taking and makes it difficult to ascribe liabilities to specific actors, as it is not obvious who is responsible for what. This thesis is concerned with the process of how a group of market actors – private and public textile buyers – assume responsibility of chemical risks in their supply chains in a situation that is characterized by uncertainty and complexity. This thesis aims to contribute to an understanding of what happens when market actors are called on to manage the negative side effects of globalisation. The focus is on Swedish textile-buying private and public organisations. The thesis constructs an analytical model based on the key concepts responsible governance, responsibilisation, and responsible supply chain management (RSCM). The thesis explores the barriers, challenges and opportunities that exist for buyers seeking to assume RSCM and whether a process of responsibilisation can be observed in the textile sector. The thesis uses an exploratory approach and interviews, participatory observations and literature studies, as well as case studies to understand the process and to investigate barriers, challenges, opportunities. In summary, the thesis shows that a process of responsibilisation is ongoing on the organisational and sector levels. Further, it is shown that due to the complex structures of the chains, there are more barriers and challenges than opportunities for buyers striving for RSCM. However, it is argued that cooperation, stronger public and private policy, and a reflexive approach could be ways forward towards RSCM and increased responsibilisation in the textile sector.

Abstract [sv]

En av våra samtida stora utmaningar är hanteringen av de miljö- och hälsoproblem som följer i svallvågorna av en globaliserad handel. En av dessa utmaningar rör hanteringen av kemikalierisker. Inom textilbranschen är produktionen kemikalieintensiv och handelsmönstren karakteriseras av komplexa varukedjor som inte sällan sträcker sig över flera kontinenter. Samtidigt pågår en förändring av inblandade aktörers roller, där marknadsaktörer uppmanas att på ett ansvarstagande sätt hantera frågan om kemikalierisker och de utmaningar som hör därtill. Denna process försvåras ofta till följd av ett komplext samhälle präglat av kunskapsbrister. Detta komplicerar ansvarstagande och gör det svårt att hålla specifika aktörer, såsom företag och inköpande organisationer, ansvariga, då det inte är uppenbart vem som är ansvarig för vad. Denna avhandling undersöker hur en grupp marknadsaktörer – privata och offentliga textilinköpare – tar ansvar för kemikalierisker längs med sina varukedjor i en situation som karaktäriseras av osäkerhet och komplexitet. Avhandlingen syftar till att fördjupa förståelsen för vad som händer när marknadsaktörer uppmanas att hantera miljö- och hälsorisker från till exempel kemikalier i textil. Fokus ligger på svenska privata och offentliga textilinköpare, som exempelvis kläd- och textilföretag, offentlig förvaltning och andra inköpande organisationer. I avhandlingen konstrueras en analytisk modell baserad på nyckelbegreppen responsible governance, responsibilisation och responsible supply chain management. Avhandlingen är explorativ och genom intervjuer, deltagande observationer och litteraturstudier samt fallstudier undersöks en potentiell process av ansvarstagande samt de hinder, utmaningar och möjligheter som de inköpande organisationerna möter i sitt arbete med kemikalierisker längs med sina varukedjor. Resultaten belyser en pågående process av ansvarsförfarande på både organisations och sektornsivå. Avhandlingen visar också att på grund av kedjans komplexa struktur så förekommer större hinder och utmaningar än möjligheter för de textilinköpare som strävar efter ansvarstagande. Trots detta pekar resultaten på att samarbete, kraftfullare styrmedel och ett reflexivt tillvägagångssätt skulle kunna vara en väg mot ökat ansvarstagande inom textilsektorn.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2017. , 164 p.
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 145
Keyword [en]
Responsibility, Sustainability, Supply Chain Management, Governance, Responsibilisation, CSR, Complexity, Uncertainty, Chemicals, Textiles
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-33670Local ID: 1744/42/2008ISBN: 978-91-88663-17-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-88663-18-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-33670DiVA: diva2:1155110
Public defence
2017-12-08, MB 416, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Chemicals in textiles: Managing environmental and health risks from products with complex product chains
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2017-11-17 Created: 2017-11-07 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Responsible procurement and complex product chains: the case of chemical risks in textiles
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Responsible procurement and complex product chains: the case of chemical risks in textiles
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2012 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, ISSN 0964-0568, E-ISSN 1360-0559, Vol. 55, no 1, 95-111 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Keyword
responsible procurement; product chains; complexity; textiles;
National Category
Environmental Sciences Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-15109 (URN)10.1080/09640568.2011.581885 (DOI)000302021600006 ()2-s2.0-84855456426 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Kemtex
Available from: 2012-01-29 Created: 2012-01-29 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. Knowledge challenges for responsible supply chain management of chemicals in textiles - as experienced by procuring organisations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Knowledge challenges for responsible supply chain management of chemicals in textiles - as experienced by procuring organisations
2015 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 107, 130-136 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A great number of chemicals - many of which are hazardous to human health and the environment - are used along the complex supply chains of textiles. These complexities and hazards make knowledge for understanding chemical properties and management practices at multiple nodes central to the responsible management of textile supply chains. This study investigates the knowledge requirements of, and the knowledge strategies used by, textile procuring organisations in response to both external stakeholders and internal pressure. Based on a qualitative study of small and medium-sized Swedish textile procuring organisations, the paper describes these knowledge challenges and analyses how efforts to meet them relate to expressed commitments and capabilities for responsible supply chain management (RSCM), as well as to organisational characteristics (i.e. whether the organisation is private or public, small or large, and whether textiles is a core or peripheral activity). It was found that several textile procuring organisations expressed commitment towards achieving RSCM. However, most organisations felt that they lacked capacity to rise to the challenge. There was a poor state of knowledge regarding many chemical substances and inherent difficulties in gaining knowledge of chemical risks and how to manage these. Moreover, the input of knowledge was limited and based on only a few key sources. Such factors proved to be obstacles for procuring organisations when attempting to facilitate responsible management upstream in complex supply chains.

Keyword
Chemical risks, Corporate social responsibility, Knowledge, Responsible procurement
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-23357 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.03.012 (DOI)000363071000014 ()2-s2.0-84942986267 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-04-23 Created: 2014-04-23 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Towards reflexive responsibility in a textile supply chain
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards reflexive responsibility in a textile supply chain
2017 (English)In: Business Strategy and the Environment, ISSN 0964-4733, E-ISSN 1099-0836Article in journal (Other academic) Accepted
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-33683 (URN)
Projects
Chemicals in textiles: Managing environmental and health risks from products with complex product chains
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Note

As manuscript in dissertation

Available from: 2017-11-07 Created: 2017-11-07 Last updated: 2017-11-07Bibliographically approved
4. Green Chemistry, the REACH Regulation and Textile Companies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Green Chemistry, the REACH Regulation and Textile Companies
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-33684 (URN)1744/42/2008 (Local ID)1744/42/2008 (Archive number)1744/42/2008 (OAI)
Projects
Chemicals in textiles: Managing environmental and health risks from products with complex product chains
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Note

As manuscript in dissertation

Available from: 2017-11-07 Created: 2017-11-07 Last updated: 2017-11-07Bibliographically approved

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