Sustainability nonprofit Textile Exchange has launched a revamped version of its Material Change Index (MCI) to track the apparel, footwear and home-textile sectors’ progress toward eco-friendlier materials sourcing.
Billed as the largest voluntary peer-to-peer comparison initiative in the textile industry, the MCI features 170 companies, including boldface names such as C&A, Eileen Fisher, H&M, Ikea, Levi Strauss, Nike, Nudie Jeans and Patagonia, which have achieved “Level 4: Leader” status for 2019.
The index is also a cornerstone of Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark (CFMB) program, which allows participating companies to “measure, manage and integrate” preferred fiber and materials strategies into their businesses.
“We’ve been running a preferred materials benchmark for three years and felt it was time to ramp it up,” LaRhea Pepper, managing director at Textile Exchange, said in a statement.
By participating in the CFMB, Textile Exchange says, companies demonstrate a commitment to both transparency and continual improvement around their materials sourcing strategy.
In 2019, 85 percent of participating companies pledged to convert at least one of their key material categories to “100 percent more sustainable.” At the same time, 39 percent of materials employed by participating companies originated from more sustainable sources.
With climate change dominating the headlines, there’s a “greater urgency,” Pepper said, to move from a linear take-make-dispose model to a circular one where resources are reclaimed and recycled rather than landfilled or incinerated.
“Resources are finite, and consumption contributes to climate change, among other serious impacts,” she said. “The textile industry can play a huge role in the shift to a regenerative and circular use of materials—but we have to move fast and put the growing, extraction and recycling of materials center stage.”
The MCI family of indices tracks progress across the categories of cotton, polyester, nylon, man-made cellulosics, down, wool and material circularity, as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which tackles issues such as poverty, gender equality, sanitation, clean energy and climate action.
The revised framework “future-fits” the benchmark for the next 10 years, according to Textile Exchange, by including updated methodology designed to provide a “more holistic picture” of company progress. (It was independently assessed by BSD Consulting using ISEAL Benchmarking Guidelines and Global Reporting Initiative principles.)
Instead of PDF feedback report cards, participating companies will now receive confidential scorecards in interactive digital format, with “simple and highly visual” summations of the company’s performance and comparative progress.
Textile Exchange has also joined hands with media and events company GreenBiz Group to publish the results and a series of articles educating textile industry professionals on how to improve their materials sourcing strategy, promote circularity and better align with the SDGs.
“Our mission at GreenBiz is to accelerate the transition to a clean economy, and we recognize the enormous contribution the apparel and textile industry can make,” Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor at GreenBiz Group, said. “We are excited to partner with Textile Exchange on this important benchmark program, which taps into companies’ zest for competition while at the same time supporting collaboration and systems thinking.”
The MSI isn’t Textile Exchange’s only notable course adjustment of late. In November, the organization said it wants to be a driving force for climate action and will be taking a new “strategic direction” to reduce carbon emissions from textile production by 35 percent to 45 percent by 2030.