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60 percent of the fashion and textile industry are eager to go green

By Andrea Byrne


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Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, new research reveals sustainability is still ranked as the second most important strategic objective for businesses (60 percent) in the retail sector.

The number one priority in the list was improving customers’ experience (64 percent), while one in six listed ‘rewarding shareholders’ as the top objective.

That’s according to the US Cotton Trust Protocol and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which surveyed 150 executives from fashion, retail and textile businesses across Europe and the US.

The new research showed that leaders are introducing sustainability measures throughout the supply chain: 65 percent are sourcing sustainability produced materials, 51 percent are introducing a circular economy approach and cutting greenhouse gasses, and 41 percent are investing in new technologies such as 3D printing and blockchain.

70 percent of leaders are confident that affordable, fast and sustainable fashion is achievable.

Data collecting crucial for sustainability

In terms of how companies are prioritising their sustainable approaches, 58 percent prioritised developing an environmental sustainability strategy with measurable targets as a way of implementing sustainability, while 53 percent considered data collection crucial for sustainability.

Three in ten businesses stated that the availability of reliable data holds the key to a greater understanding of sustainability over the next decade. Additionally, 73 percent of industry leaders said that support for global benchmarks and thresholds are effective ways of measuring sustainability performance and progress in the industry.

However, while businesses recognise the importance of data on supplier sustainability practices (65 percent), and workers’ rights and workplace health and safety (62 percent), the research revealed a lack of data from businesses concerning sustainability sourcing.

45 percent of businesses do not track their greenhouse gas emissions across production, manufacturing and distribution of the products they sell, and 41 percent do not track the amount of water and energy used to produce the raw materials they source. 26 percent of respondents saw a lack of available and easily-accessible data as hindering sustainability progress across the industry.

Collaboration is needed to drive change

The report also found that industry leaders require collaboration to make sustainable change, but when it comes to external support to help guide that progress, they don’t necessarily think further regulation is the answer.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals and government regulation were given equal weight of 24 percent in support of businesses for driving sustainable change, and 33 percent ranked regulatory requirements within the top three factors for helping guide the progress of sustainability.

Jonathan Birdwell, regional head of public policy and thought leadership at the EIU, said in a statement: “It’s clear from the survey results and our interviews with business leaders that the industry is committed to driving progress on its sustainability performance. We were particularly struck by the fact that sustainability is largely considered as pre-competitive, behind the scenes brands are sharing resources and lessons learned.”

Just over half of respondents in the survey said they thought the uncertainty of Covid-19 would make sustainability less of a priority within the industry.

Photo credit: Business Wire

Economist Intelligence Unit
Sustainable Fashion
US Cotton Trust Protocol