New Sustainable Apparel Coalition Will Index Consumer Products

A group of major apparel and footwear brands joined with
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency this week to launch the Sustainable
Apparel Coalition.

The Coalition aims to reduce the environmental and social
impacts of apparel and footwear products sold around the world by establishing
an industry-wide index for measuring and evaluating apparel and footwear
product sustainability.

To accomplish this, the Coalition said it will draw on the
work of different efforts to measure and track apparel sustainability including
the Outdoor Industry Association ‘Eco Index’ and Nike’s ‘Environmental Apparel
Design’ tools. The group has been working together informally since early 2010,
and will begin beta-testing the initial version of an apparel sustainability
index in April, followed by a footwear index later in 2011.

Initially the indexes will not be consumer facing. Rather it
will be used internally to drive pre-competitive solutions and collaborations,
the Coalition says on its website. But the indexes will serve as a foundation
for eventual reporting to consumers on the sustainability performance of the
products they purchase.

The stated goals of the Coalition are to drive improvements
in energy, waste, water, and toxics in the supply chain and help reduce
operating costs and risks.

Founding members are based in North America, Asia, Europe
and the U.K. They include:

  • Adidas
  • Arvind Mills
  • C&A
  • Duke University
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Esprit
  • Esquel
  • Gap Inc.
  • H&M
  • HanesBrands
  • Intradeco
  • JC Penney
  • Kohl’s Department Stores
  • Lenzing
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • LF USA, a division of Li & Fung Limited
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Mountain
    Equipment Co-op
  • New Balance
  • Nike
  • Nordstrom
  • Otto Group
  • Outdoor Industry
  • Patagonia
  • Pentland Brands
  • REI
  • TAL Apparel
  • Target
  • Timberland
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Verite
  • VF Corp
  • Walmart

The group said other initiatives will include spotlighting
promising technological innovations, and identifying opportunities for
improving current social and environmental practices throughout the supply

"Each of the Coalition’s participating companies and
organizations see an opportunity to advance their own sustainability goals by
collaborating to create more uniform, broadly defined tools for measuring
sustainability, and for collective actions to drive innovations in products and
manufacturing that will benefit the entire apparel industry and consumers,"
said Rick Ridgeway, Coalition Chair and Vice President of Environmental
Programs, Patagonia.

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