Uniting for Global Change

29/12/2010 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

A new coalition of some of the world’s biggest clothing brands, which together amount to around 60% of global apparel sales, has agreed to develop a new environmental hang-tag for clothing that will allow shoppers to immediately assess the environmental impact of their purchases.  The news of a brand new ‘Sustainable Apparel Coalition’ was revealed by Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor brand Patagonia, in early November.  His company has been working with the likes of Wal-Mart, C&A and Levi Strauss on the new project after a meeting at Wal-Mart where the idea was first raised.  “We have been working with Wal-Mart to ‘green’ its business which has ultimately led to the formation of a new coalition of retailers and brands which make up between 50 – 60% of world clothing sales”, he said.

Non-disclosure agreements have already been signed and it’s expected that the European/US outdoor eco-index and Nike’s Considered Index Tool will be put at the disposal of the other non-outdoor brands involved in this ground-breaking project.  The formation of the new coalition will be officially announced in January 2011.

Chouinard told Ecotextile News that the coalition also includes household names such as JC Penney, Nike, Gap, Coles and “many others” who are working towards “an eco-index for consumers so that they can instantly identify the sustainable credentials of a product”.  He said the new consumer label project is expected to take two years to finalize and complete – a very ambitious time-scale.  “The industry has decided to take this step in advance of government legislation”, Chouinard told us, “the brands wanted to take the initiative before governments did”.

The coalition is sure to have a revolutionary effect on the global textile supply chain and provides an interesting insight into current brand thinking but  it also raises some concerns within the textile sector about how this new eco-textile label can be both policed and certified.  “The opportunity for greenwashing is an obvious concern”, said one textile NGO,  “they will need the involvement of credible, third-party organizations to help develop the new label system”.  The brands will also have to map their entire supply chains – a huge undertaking on its own.

To ensure this project is transparent, Ecotextile News calls for the full engagement and involvement of the relevant NGO’s in the USA, Europe and Asia.  In particular this includes the new Textile Exchange in the USA, the RITE Group in Europe and perhaps the SFBC in Hong Kong.  Regional consumer protection organizations should also be engaged to ensure it actually delivers what it sets out to achieve.

~Reported by John Mowbray of Ecotextile News~

 

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Entry filed under: Business, Environment, Organic Apparel, Sustainability. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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