WWF Switzerland publishes textile industry report and rating

WWF Switzerland publishes textile industry report and rating

WWF Switzerland released a study of the textile and fashion industry yesterday, claiming in a press release that “many textile companies do not care about the environment”. The report includes a rating by oekom research AG of twelve large fashion / sports brands that sell their products in the Swiss markets and includes solutions for the sector. None of the brands score in the highest rank category.

The results (see picture below) show that none of the twelve examined brands are classified in the highest rating class ‘visionary’, and regarding environmental management areas, most are only poorly covered. H&M ranked best in its environmental practices, and just managed to be classified as ‘ambitious’, and three are evaluated as ‘upper middlefield’. Eight brands are either ranked as ‘lower middlefield’ or as ‘latecomers / in transparent’.

click image to enlarge

Describing the vast environmental footprint of the clothing and textile industry, the report argues that “doing ‘business as usual’ will not be an option for the industry nor for the planet in the long run” – and asks: How will fashion brands fulfill customers’ dreams in the future while contributing to the well-being of society and the environment at large?

Change is possible, the report claims – but only if bold action and leadership for transformation are taken. Focusing on increasing efficiencies will not be enough. WWF argues that fashion business models have to make a “quantum leap”, which requires “completely new ways of thinking”. This means that questions will need to be asked like: What if dyeing did not require any water at all? What if clothing left no harmful traces? What if reparing and sharing created benefits for consumers and a business case for companies?

The study suggests innovations in three different ways:

  • Business model innovations (e.g. reducing, repairing, sharing, reusing, recycling)
  • Product innovations (e.g. recycled content, more sustainable raw materials)
  • Process innovations (e.g. innovative processes, renewable energy sourcing)

To support the companies, the report lists eight areas in which companies need to engage in in order to not continue harming the planetary boundaries:

  1. Strategy to operate within the planet’s ecological boundaries
  2. Climate change
  3. Water management and stewardship
  4. Raw materials
  5. Joint environmental management in the supply chain
  6. Chemical management
  7. Investments, stakeholder engagement and responsibility for public policy
  8. New business models to decouple consumption from resource use

For further information contact Mark Starmanns, BSD Consulting’s Textile Sector Specialist and Senior Consultant, who contributed to the report. He provided insights about the textile industry and its impacts, about actions and innovations for sustainability and possibilities for improved consumers’ choice.

About the rating:

The report can be downloaded here.

The study was written by WWF Switzerland.

The rating is based on data provided by the sustainability rating agency oekom research AG, which used their standard rating methodology for the clothing and textile sector.