The push for sustainability in the apparel sector got a major push forward in recent days as clothing brands, industry associations and retailers agreed to form the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. On March 2, 2011 a wide range of companies made a formal announcement that they were developing a comprehensive database of environmental impacts from different processes involved in manufacturing apparel. The purpose of this is to allow every garment to be rated on a sustainability scale.
This initiative builds on a series of corporate initiatives (Nike etc.) and sectoral traceability initiatives such as the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco-Index. It features a very wide base of support ranging from retailers such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H & M and Mountain Equipment Co-op, to major apparel brands such as Adidas, Hanes and Nike. Given the support behind this coalition, this initiative has greater potential for success that any previously undertaken within the sector. For a number of years different attempts to been made to satisfy consumer demands for greater disclosure and traceability of apparel while the same time remaining accurate to the diverse challenges encountered in the apparel supply chain.
The Coalition also has strong connections to broader initiatives to deal with life cycle analysis of the environmental impact of consumer products through its work with the Sustainability Consortium.
Over the long-term the intention is to bring together a broad database which would be the basis for a “scorecard” for each garment, allowing all players from fibre producers to apparel retailers to understand the of social and environmental impacts related to the production of apparel. In the longer term such a system would allow consumers to gain access to that same information.
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