Apparel, Textile Industry Giants Unite Around SDGs at Textile Sustainability Conference ’17

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Published: October 11, 2017

Big news has been rolling out of the Textile Exchange 2017 Textile Sustainability Conference near Washington, D.C., providing evidence of the major paradigm shift taking place in the apparel and textile industry. Centered around the theme, “United by Action: Catalyzing the Sustainable Development Goals in Textiles,” this year’s conference sees more than 500 textile and apparel leaders come together to discuss the most important sustainability issues facing the industry and developing a roadmap to 2030.

In addition to announcing its newly-approved associate membership to ISEAL, the global membership association for sustainability standards, Textile Exchange (TE), a global nonprofit focused on reducing the environmental and social impacts of the textile industry, released its largest preferred fibers report ever, with 95 companies reporting. This marks a 14 percent increase in participating companies over 2016’s report and a 76 percent increase over 2015’s.

The report’s findings, which are based on the disclosure of actual consumption data through Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fiber Benchmark, highlighted a shift towards preferred fibers across participating companies. In particular, the findings recognize growth in the usage of recycled polyester (58 percent), lyocell (128 percent) and Preferred down (54 percent), the majority of which is certified to TE’s Responsible Down StandardOrganic and other preferred cottons now represent 47 percent of total cotton usage. The report also noted a shift towards more diverse portfolio mixes of fibers and a ramping up of efforts to mobilize and gear up for circularity.

The report’s impact data also shows that adoption of preferred fibers and materials can advance many of the SDGs, in particular SDG12, which focuses on responsible consumption and production. This is consistent with the report’s findings that nearly 30 percent of reporting companies said they were aligning corporate strategies to the SDGs.

Textile Exchange also shared that the language, content and best practices of its Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) will be used by two key Argentinian organizations as a basis for the outreach to and training of regional farmers. This represents the first time TE and its RWS are being recognized at a national to facilitate the adoption of improved sustainability practices.

The collaboration, which involves ProLana — a state-run national program that aims to help Argentine wool growers to improve quality, presentation and sale conditions — and the Federación Lanera Argentina — the national guild representing the interests of scourers, top makers and exporters — will see Argentina adapt its language and protocols to reflect the wording and intent of the RWS, train potential farmers and put a specific emphasis on shearing practices by 2018.

The government and guild will focus on alignment with RWS criteria and will provide support to facilitate certification to the RWS.

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