Google and WWF encourage more sustainability in fashion industry

Google is partnering with WWF Sweden to develop an environmental data platform to encourage the fashion industry to make more responsible sourcing decisions. The platform aims to give brands a detailed view into the use of raw materials in the manufacturing and supply chains, hopefully leading to more sustainable practices.

The fashion sector accounts for 20% of wastewater and 2-8% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, with emission levels potentially growing by as much as 50% by 2030. There is currently limited visibility into how this occurs as much of it takes place at the raw materials stage in the production process, in which supply chains are highly fragmented.

Google and WWF will now pool their respective expertise – Google’s technical capacity and WWF’s deep knowledge of assessing raw materials – to highlight the extent to which raw materials are used in fashion supply chains.

The platform will build on other recent initiatives in this area the two organisations have been involved in, based on data analytics and machine learning. Google is currently working on a pilot project with Stella McCartney to give the brand a comprehensive picture into the use of raw materials in its supply chains. And in 2018, WWF created a similar tool with Ikea which focuses on the risk and impact of various textiles raw materials.

Google and WWF added that they are consulting with a large number of other fashion, luxury, denim, and athletic brands and retailers, to further enhance the platform’s accuracy.

“Sustainability is a challenge that crosses industry boundaries, and we firmly believe that solutions require strong partnerships and collaboration,” said Google sustainability officer, Kate Brandt. “Our ambition is to fill fundamental data gaps by bringing greater accuracy to environmental reporting—ultimately moving toward more sustainable processes. By combining our technology, and with data inputs from many key industry brands and retailers, we believe we can significantly magnify this work together.”

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic in the clothing industry. Last month, Adidas and Allbirds announced they are collaborating to significantly reduce the footwear industry’s carbon footprint.