To combat the ambiguity of what companies mean when they call a product “sustainable” - or any other variation of the word, such as “eco-friendly”, “green” or “environmentally friendly” - various international consumer authorities have started cracking down on unsubstantiated claims.
In the meantime, the EU is preparing regulations for the same. Look up EU Green Claims Directive, France Climate and Resilience Law, UK CMA’s greenwashing review for more details.
Great, but how to collect reliable product data to substantiate environmental claims?
The environmental impact of a product is measured by a Life Cycle Assessment - in short LCA. These LCA’s are so far often indicative as benchmark data is used which is in turn often based on limited reference data due to the newness of this topic to our industry.
Back to the regulations: the EU wants brands and consumers to be able to act based on facts. No more indicative impact data, but reliable data supported by evidence.
Collect data from primary source
tex.tracer transparency platform has spent the last 6 months on a pilot project with clients EK Fashion, Groenendijk Bedrijfskleding, Tricorp, Heigo and bAwear Score LCA party looking at exactly this. During the pilot, the pilotgroup has collected over 200 product data points per garment from yarn to confectioning and transport, from Tier 1 suppliers and beyond.
The results show that collecting data from the supply chain – the primary source - is a tedious job and that’s why tex.tracer has automated the data collection. Tom Gerards, Manager Sustainability at Heigo confirms:
The pilot results show that collecting reliable data from primary source is possible, albeit difficult. Reducing workload by automating and simplifying the process is important. It helps us to scale data collection and future-proof our business.
Reliable LCA’s empower you to act based on facts and successively improve social and environmental aspects. And meet the above-mentioned upcoming compliance rules and regulations so you can avoid greenwashing.
Learnings you can implement
4 points to follow when you start product impact measurement:
- Collecting footprint data on product level is a tedious job. As you may want to do it more often once you get started: automate the process to reduce workload
- As you need answers to 200 questions throughout the supply chain: instead of asking your Tier 1 supplier to provide all information, request all partners in the supply chain to answer a small set of questions related to their process only. Sharing is caring, plus you get reliable data as the data owner is providing the information.
- To collect data from the origin, you need to first be able to know that party. This point is de facto the first step, so get a new Excel file started or cooperate with a transparency platform to ease the process of getting to know your supply chain partners all the way back to raw material.
- Although an LCA may still not be perfect, you can use it as a benchmark and work from that starting point to reduce emissions in the future. And whilst you’re at it, you’re building more reliable benchmark data in the process: a nice benefit for the whole industry!
Reliable and transparent supply chain data is the basis for the necessary changes in the fashion industry. Take the next step towards understanding your supply chain and the environmental and social impact of your product and contribute to a responsible fashion industry.
tex.tracer collects product supply chain data using time- & geolocation stamps, peer-to-peer reviews and blockchain, creating reliable supply chain insights. Want to know more? Get in touch with the team.