Partnership to develop environmental decision-making platform for the fashion industry

Article by Amanda Jasi

GOOGLE and WWF Sweden are partnering to create a data-driven platform to enable the fashion industry to make more environmentally-responsible sourcing decisions and move towards more sustainable manufacturing processes.

Research by environmental consultancy Quantis found that the footwear and apparel industries combined were responsible for 8.1% of global emissions (3,990m t/y CO2-eq) in 2016. According to a 2017 paper from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, treating and dyeing textiles accounts for 20% of industrial water pollution.

Most of these impacts occur at the raw materials stage in the production process. According to the partnership, this is where the supply chains can be highly fragmented, and gathering and assessing data at scale is a challenge.

The platform aims to address these challenges by offering an open-source resource that can be used on a standalone basis, or to complement existing efforts.

Google Cloud is already working with fashion brand Stella McCartney to use Cloud technology to provide a more comprehensive view into raw materials of clothing manufacturers’ supply chains. WWF Sweden and long-term partner IKEA created a similar tool in 2018 that focuses on analysing the risk and impact of various textiles’ raw materials.

Google and WWF will create an updated platform that leverages all these data types, with the aim of further increasing accuracy and relevance of raw material assessments. It will include numerous raw materials based on WWF data and knowledge. This knowledge will be combined using Google Cloud’s technical capacity – including big-data analysis and machine learning.

The partners are also working with a large number of other fashion, luxury, denim, and athletic brands and retailers. 

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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