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Textile Exchange’s New Climate+ Strategy Makes Climate Action an Imperative

Textile Exchange wants to be a driving force for climate action.

The global nonprofit, which works to accelerate sustainable practices in the textile value chain, announced publicly Monday that it will be taking a new “strategic direction” to reduce carbon emissions from textile production by 35 percent to 45 percent by 2030.

First unveiled at the 2019 Textile Sustainability Conference in Vancouver in October, the 2030 Strategy: Climate+ is the result of “extensive stakeholder engagement” through interviews and an online survey conducted with both Textile Exchange members and non-members, including brands, retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, nonprofits and professional services.

The Climate+ Strategy, the organization says, frames climate action as a “deliberate priority” that requires immediate attention. Its name intimates as much: The “+” of “Climate+” allows Textile Exchange to “prioritize climate” while addressing other interconnected impact areas, such as water, biodiversity, forests, soil and animal welfare. It’s also an acknowledgment that Textile Exchange cannot achieve this 2030 goal alone but will require strong partnerships to accelerate existing tools, facilitate innovation around new business models and promote zero-carbon materials.

“The Climate+ Strategy is a way to bring the priority of climate, biodiversity and carbon to the heart of our work with preferred fibers and material,” LaRhea Pepper, managing director at Textile Exchange, said in a statement.

The conference kicked off a number of initiatives to that end, including H&M Group and Ikea’s joint study to investigate the chemical content of collected pre-owned textiles—much of which is unknown—to ensure the safe reuse of materials such as cotton, polyester and wool in a circular system. H&M and Ikea will be conducting more than 8,000 tests on collected recyclable textiles to not only suss out the scope of any potential issues but also develop an action plan that aligns with safety standards.

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“Recycled materials are key elements in a circular economy,” said Anna Biverstål, global business expert on materials at H&M Group. “However, increasing the use of recycled materials whilst ensuring that we keep these textiles free of toxic chemicals presents a challenge for the industry. We’re pleased to announce that H&M Group and Ikea have joined forces in a study to address this challenge.”

To “enhance the transparency and traceability” of sustainable textile value chains, Textile Exchange will be working with the International Trade Center to help certified factories gain visibility in international supply chains (via the latter’s Sustainability Map) while supporting these businesses in adopting more environmentally friendly practices.

It’s an example, they say, of applying technology for good to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Textile Exchange—which owns the Recycled Wool Standard, the Content Claim Standard and the Organic Claim Standard, among others—has also linked arms with traceability platform TextileGenesis to pilot viscose and wool chains of custody using blockchain technology.

The pilot, which will be carried out in collaboration with Lenzing, ArmedAngels and Schneider Group, will explore the integration of Textile Exchange’s Central Database System—a chain-of-custody platform developed with the Global Organic Textile Standard—and TextileGenesis’s blockchain solution to “maximize the value” of digital traceability and physical verification for certified sustainable fibers and materials.

“Textile Exchange has created the space where the industry comes together to share best practice and drive progress towards industry transformation,” said Amit Gautam, founder and CEO of TextileGenesis. “We’re excited to bring our technology into that forum to help drive meaningful change and measurable impact.”