A new benchmark set forth by Textile Exchange will guide fashion brands through cleaning up their sourcing practices to yield an ecologically sound apparel industry. | Photo courtesy of Textile Exchange

A new benchmark set forth by Textile Exchange will guide fashion brands through cleaning up their sourcing practices to yield an ecologically sound apparel industry. | Photo courtesy of Textile Exchange


CFMB Criterion From Textile Exchange Outlines Environmental Impact

The sustainable-fiber-and-materials-sourcing nonprofit Textile Exchange announced Dec. 2 that it is introducing a new criterion to its Corporate Fibers & Materials Benchmark that will afford greater insight regarding the impact on biodiversity caused by apparel companies.

Through its work with United Kingdom–headquartered The Biodiversity Consultancy, which outlines responsible, nature-considerate decision-making for fashion and textile clients and is supported by the Johannesburg provider of pulp Sappi, the Texas-based Textile Exchange encourages brands to use its new tool to plan for progressive changes that will support biodiversity. According to Textile Exchange chief executive officer La Rhea Pepper, there are a number of steps that the organization can guide brands through in order to gain more-responsible business operations.

“I am an organic-cotton farmer, so biodiversity is at the heart of everything for me. It provides benefits that address climate change, such as carbon sequestration, regulation of local climate air quality and moderate to extreme natural events,” Pepper said. “Additionally, biodiversity plays a key role in other benefits such as pollination, erosion prevention, wastewater treatment, biological control of pests and disease, and preventing species extinction. Our sector can do so much that is nature positive, and I look forward to seeing the first benchmark results.”

Currently comprising around 200 brands and retailers including Gucci, H&M Group, Norrøna, Patagonia, Tchibo and The North Face, the CFMB has identified ways these members can incorporate preferred materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and man-made cellulosics. Since it opened its membership to suppliers and manufacturers this year, the CFMB has worked with more than 20 leaders in textiles, including Lenzing and Birla Cellulose of the Aditya Birla Group, The Schneider Group, Sulochana and World Textile Sourcing.

“Participating companies are already making significant headway in identifying their portfolio of materials, the sustainability programs they are investing in, targets for uptake and improvement, and calculating their volumetric uptake of preferred fibers and materials in use,” said Liesl Truscott, director of the European and materials strategy for Textile Exchange. “The new biodiversity benchmark can help take them to the next stage, from de-carbonizing their materials to embedding positive biodiversity outcomes in their strategies.”

These advanced efforts by Textile Exchange align with commitments made by global leaders during September’s “United Nations Summit on Biodiversity” to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. As part of its 2030 Strategy: Climate+, the Textile Exchange seeks to reduce carbon emissions from textile-fiber processing and material production by 2030.

The new benchmark has launched in beta, and its survey, which was launched Dec. 1, is available to responses until Jan. 31, 2021. Companies that are participants in the CFMB’s Material Change Index will gain access to the survey via its existing portal. New participants are welcome to register online at cfmb.textileexchange.org/.

“The fashion and textile industry now has an opportunity to establish a leadership position in how it tackles biodiversity and nature loss,” The Biodiversity Consultancy’s chief executive, Dr. Helen Temple, said. “Nature is in the spotlight more than ever before, and understanding where and how companies impact nature—and what they can do about it—has become increasingly important, both in terms of operational decisions and in the pursuit of the systemic, transformational shifts we need to drive nature-positive change.”