Two major players in the apparel world are doing their part to minimize the industry’s impact on the environment.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a global alliance that includes suppliers, brands and retailers, and Austrian fiber house Lenzing have joined the World Apparel and Footwear Lifecycle Database (WALDB) as partners.
The project, a pre-competitive global initiative launched in 2015 by consulting firm Quantis, aims to deliver quantified data for environmental impact assessment and footprinting in the fashion industry.
Lenzing and the SAC will now work with WALDB founding partners Hugo Boss, Legero/Think! Shoes, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and BSD Consulting to measure the environmental impacts created by materials used in the supply chain in order to identify hotspots. These impacts can range from water consumption for cotton crops to the effects of dyeing and tanning to greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and transportation.
WALDB also calculates the benefits associated with sustainability measures and benchmarks individual footprints compared with industry averages. This means that organizations can drive metrics-based sustainability programs in full compliance with relevant ISO Standards and with the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) initiative.
Not only is interest in calculating lifecycle assessment on the rise, new public policies are also demanding it, like the EU’s Single Market for Green Products initiative.
“I have witnessed a clear shift from the apparel industry—one that is characterized by a sharp increase in interest in developing a more holistic and quantitative approach to environmental sustainability,” stated Rainer Zah, Quantis Zurich Managing Director and WALDB project lead. “Solid metrics serve as a guide to organizations’ sustainability strategies allowing them to make good decisions, based on hotspots across their operations, to make the most impact. The WALDB database will allow companies to assess their impacts, make strategic decisions and engage their supply chains based on facts.”
The first edition of WALDB was released in July, comprising 60 datasets that cover wool, cotton and leather supply chains for shirts, pullovers, trousers and shoes. The database will continuously expand over the next two years, according to the needs of the partners, and will be released annually.