At a time when environmental labels and statements abound, the European PEF (Product Environmental Footprint) methodology and French environmental labelling are guiding the fashion industry towards a framework for measuring their impacts and encouraging eco-design brands to achieve better environmental performances.
The goals of environmental labelling
- To assess the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, using a multi-stage approach, from the extraction of the raw materials to the end of life of the product, and a multi-criteria approach, by analyzing the different categories of impact, such as effects on climate, biodiversity and resources.
- To establish aligned benchmarks based on international standards, to achieve harmonized measures between brands.
- To corroborate environmental claims using robust, verifiable and comparable criteria.
- To enable consumers to make informed choices through a label communicating the impact assessment of the product.
- Resources: Water and energy consumption, land use
- Climate change: Greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion
- Biodiveristy: Soft water, sea water and soil pollution
- Health: Potential toxicity for humans
There are 2 key priorities to roll out these approaches:
- Traceability: The ability to trace your value chain, a mainstay pillar for running a full diagnosis.
- Data collection:
- For the product: type of resources used, knowledge of the different stages and treatments involved, full name of products…
- For the company: water and energy consumption, waste water treatment, waste management.
How to go further?
The methodologies in development use the Life Cycle Analysis tool, tool based on databases, which is able to keep a record of impacts. At this stage, however, certain aspects still need to be integrated to ensure the process is robust.
- Incomplete data: Data is sometimes old, data used by default when product-specific information are missing.
- Progress made on quality is not necessarily highlighted: Regenerative practices, renewability, physical durability of products.
- Certain aspects of biodiversity are overlooked: including the assessment of the impact of microfibre release, a major issue for our industry.
To move forward on these actions, collaboration is key. The first step here is to raise your employees’ awareness of these goals. But you should also talk to your industrial partners, to understand and collect environmental data and to learn more about the value chains.