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How do you solve a problem like Ma-terials?

26 November, 2021

The Global Fibre Impact Explorer is Google and WWF’s new sustainability platform, which enables companies to identify climate change related risks associated with materials in their supply chain.

The initial focus of the platform is the fashion industry – specifically identifying the biggest risks associated with more than 20 fibre types in supply chains, including synthetics. Stella McCartney, for example, used the platform to identify potential water insecurity risks faced by a major cotton-producing region in Turkey.

The intention is to roll this technology out to a range of industries, technology which would be welcomed with open arms by many sectors that lack oversight on the sustainability of their supply chain. However, this approach could be especially valuable to smaller businesses who may not have the resources or capability to delve into the social and environmental impacts of their procurement choices beyond (at best) a simple annual survey.

How companies choose to act on this information is the important question. Importantly, the tool provides companies with tangible and sustainable alternatives which could foster new business relationships and theoretically should reduce environmental impacts.

Excitingly, this tool is expected to be free for general use next year. Could this be the ultimate supply chain transparency tool? The jury is still out on that one – the tool is reliant on the quality and reliability of data input, meaning significant investment and research into material production is required for expansion into other industry sectors. Nonetheless, this is a significant leap forward for the fashion industry, particularly for those companies that know that this matters but don’t have the clout or resource of the bigger companies.

By Budd Nicholson

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