The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a new interesting initiative, started in 2010, that involve multiple stakeholders, related to the fashion system, that share a common belief and good practices in Sustainability: Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce, 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 Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart (they plan to invite other companies to join). It is an is an industry-wide, international group of leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition “vision and purpose are based on a set of shared beliefs that:
- The environmental and social challenges around the global apparel supply system affect the entire industry.
- These challenges reflect systemic issues which no individual company can solve on their own.
- Pre-competitive collaboration can accelerate improvement in environmental and social performance for the industry as a whole and reduce cost for individual companies.
- This collaboration enables individual companies to focus more resources on product and process innovation.
- Credible, practical, and universal standards and tools for defining and measuring environmental and social performance support the individual interests of all stakeholders.”
Desired Environmental and Social Outcomes includes: Water Use & Quality, Energy/Greenhouse Gas, Waste, Land Use, Air emissions, Chemicals/Toxicity and Social/Labor.
In order to measure the progress achieved the coalition is developing a set of tools. The first one is Version 1.0 of the Sustainable Apparel Index, it is now only a primarily “indicator” , but it will evolve towards a metrics-based tool. It enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and social practices and product design choices through the entire apparel life cycle. It was based largely on the Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool and the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index. The participating organization hopes that by collaborating to create more uniform, broadly defined tools for measuring sustainability, and for collective actions to drive innovations in products, will help to raise awareness in consumers and apparel industry.
As the Guardian stated in “Clothing industry giants launch sustainable apparel coalition”: “Should the Sustainable Apparel Coalition succeed, its focus on improving on supply chain performance could become a model for other industries. More efficient, energy-saving, and transparent supply chains not only reduce costs, but lessen the human costs that put too high of a price tag on what are often cheap clothes.”