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Why cradle-to-cradle needs to be included in fashion’s sustainability rating tools

A review of a leading environmental impact tool for apparel finds that unless improvements are made, weaknesses in the underlying science could lead to misleading results, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the environment.

What do textile lifecycle assessment tools do?

Textile lifecycle assessment (LCA) tools aim to understand, quantify and communicate the environmental credentials of textiles with the intent of minimising environmental impact.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) is increasingly being adopted by industry but this LCA method currently fails to account for the complexity of the textile industry.

Why we can’t afford to get this wrong

Research conducted by environmental specialists Dr Steve Wiedemann and Dr Kalinda Watson of Integrity AG & Environment involved a comprehensive analysis of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) which reveals a number of shortcomings in the tool.

Unless these key issues are addressed, the guidance provided could lead to unsustainable choices, compromising the very thing environmental rating tools like the MSI set out to do.

“We need robust, accurate and reliable methods to generate meaningful ratings that can be trusted by all parts of the supply chain, including consumers.”

Dr Wiedemann, Integrity AG & Environment 

This is what the research found

If the MSI is to be a comprehensive environmental measurement tool these aspects must be included.

You can read Integrity AG & Environment’s full report here.


The rising tide of microplastics

As much as 35 per cent of microplastics in the marine environment are fibres from synthetic clothing, an amount that continues to increase. But by contrast, natural fibres such as wool readily biodegrade, offering a less impactful solution.


The wool industry supports a robust and scientifically defendable approach to environmental assessments in the textile industry. 

The Woolmark Company has been, and continues to be, an active contributor to the environmental assessment processes undertaken by companies such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and to the funding of much-needed research.

Learn more about wool's environmental footprint. 

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