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Apparel industry joins forces to promote sustainability

VENTURA, Calif. -- The apparel industry has come together to form a coalition dedicated to reducing the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products sold around the world. According to a press release, the group, to be known as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition will consist of leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  

The group's stated goals include spotlighting  promising technological innovations and identifying opportunities for improving current social and environmental practices throughout the supply chain by collaborating to establish consistent expectations for brands, retailers and manufacturers.

The goal of the Coalition is to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on an industry-wide index for businesses to use to measure and evaluate apparel and footwear product sustainability performance. The tools will be developed with involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, and the metrics will be fully transparent to encourage broad adoption of the index globally.  To accomplish this, the Coalition will draw on the work of different efforts to measure and track apparel sustainability including the Outdoor Industry Association "Eco Index" and Nike's "Environmental Apparel Design" tools. The group has been working together informally since early 2010, and will begin beta-testing the initial version of an apparel and footwear sustainability index in 2011.

Founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition include Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Kohl's Department Stores, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., LF USA, a division of Li & Fung Limited, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verite, VF Corp, and Walmart.

"The largest and most influential corporations in apparel and footwear together with leading environmental and social organizations have voluntarily engaged in this collective effort because they recognize the opportunity to get in front of the growing need to measure and manage the environmental and social impacts of their products," said Rick Ridgeway, coalition chair and VP environmental programs Patagonia. "More importantly, they recognize the threat to the planet and its inhabitants by continuing the model of 'business as usual.'"

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