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Google partners with Stella McCartney on responsible sourcing platform

By Rachel Douglass

23 Nov 2021

Business

Image: GFIE

Google has launched its Global Fibre Impact Explorer (GFIE), created as a tool to provide companies with data needed to make responsible sourcing decisions. The programme was developed in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and a number of fashion retailers and organisations, to facilitate its relevancy to the industry.

The platforms primary goal is to aid brands in identifying high-risk fibres in their operations, helping them to understand potential impacts and risks of specific sourcing decisions.

Primary inquiries for the tool began back in 2019, with the first version now available for brands to use instantly. Built on Google Earth Engine and utilising Google Cloud technology, the programme asses the environmental risk of different fibres across regions, displaying information centred around air pollution, biodiversity, climate and greenhouse gases, forestry and water use. Risks assessment is available for over 20 different fibre types, including natural and synthetic materials.

Participants can upload fibre portfolios, with the request to include information on models, certifications, volumes and country of origin. Analytical technology will be used to determine these details in line with data sources, such as governance assessments and fibre production, finally generating an overall risk evaluation, from low to very high risk. Results are determined from several subsections related to the fibre from the information provided.

Brands will also be presented with recommendations for both targeted and regionally-specific risk reduction, with opportunities to work with farmers, products and communities presented.

Broad industry partnerships

Google worked alongside luxury brand Stella McCartney, with the label helping “to understand the industry’s needs and to test the platform”. It stated, in the announcement, that while implementing the tool, the brand was able to identify cotton sources in Turkey that were facing increased water and climate risks.

Adidas, Allbirds, H&M Group and VF Corporation were among other brands and retailers also involved in the testing and refinement of the programme, ensuring that it remains useful to the industry as a whole.

As its initial development phase is now completed, both Google and WWF are looking to transition the platform to the nonprofit, Textile Exchange. The organisation will continue to develop the tool, onboard new brands and work towards an industry-wide launch in 2022.

Brands can now register their interest in the platform and pursue the goal of making better, more responsible fibre choices.