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Textile Exchange releases sustainability benchmarking report

EcoNote | October 9, 2015 | By:

The nonprofit is leading an effort to encourage collaboration in sustainable practices.

Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit organization that works to accelerate sustainable practices in the textile industry, has announced the findings of a comprehensive benchmarking report that measures the progress of 57 leading textile companies in their effort to become more sustainable. The Benchmark Program for Organic Cotton and Preferred Materials will be shared with the textile industry; primary goals are collaboration and shared learning among companies that regularly compete.

The 57 participating companies submitted detailed data about their use of organic cotton and other “preferred materials” to Textile Exchange for analysis and comparison across the industry. These companies range in size from small startups to global brands and share the common goal of improving sustainability efforts across their supply chains.

The Benchmark Program allows companies to track their own progress relative to the experience of others, as well, in four areas: sustainability strategy, supply chain, materials usage, and sales and marketing. The report highlights a number of encouraging indicators:

  • 93 percent of the companies report that they have a vision or mission to be more sustainable
  • 81 percent are addressing raw materials use at the strategy level and 74 percent are setting individual targets for specific materials
  • 70 percent of companies use a voluntary sustainability standard to help them ensure the integrity of their organic products and 64 percent are tracking other preferred materials
  • 74 percent are reporting the amount of organic cotton they consume
  • 81 percent claim to be communicating the sustainability attributes of their products to their customers

The report also cites certain areas for improvement:

  • Policies on raw materials and animal welfare are lagging behind human rights and ethical trade
  • Setting long-term goals for a preferred material portfolio were less common than setting targets for specific materials
  • While 73 percent of participants could provide data on organic cotton, the numbers dropped off dramatically for other preferred materials. This is an area for improvement so that companies’ use of preferred materials such as recycled polyester and preferred cellulosics (such as lyocell) can be better analyzed.

Textile Exchange through the Benchmark Program gathers data on all aspects of a company’s sustainability performance. TE analyzes this data and determines an overall average for each category. Additionally, each company receives a confidential report that compares reported data from other textile companies in order to identify best practices and encourage more action and investment in key sustainability areas such as materials use, supply chain transparency and more.

In its pilot year of the program, companies will receive a comprehensive baseline analysis of their sustainability performance to compare with the sector average. In subsequent years they will be able to chart their own year-on-year improvements and measure their pace of change against that of their peers.

The Benchmarking results will be featured at TE’s global Textile Sustainability Conference this month and in a series of online workshops for companies that will be launched later in 2015.

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