The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an informally governed coalition with an initial goal of developing and road testing a sustainability index. Participating organizations formed SAC believing there was opportunity for a more sustainable and innovative apparel and footwear industry that could not be achieved without collaboration and collective action.
SAC had a first meeting in April 2010, and since then has created an initial version of the indexing tool measuring both the environmental and social/labor impacts of manufacturing apparel.
The current version of the Sustainable Apparel Index is based on the Outdoor Industry Association Eco Index and the Nike’s Apparel Environmental Apparel Tool. SAC will soon begin beta testing the tool in the supply chains of its membership, which currently amounts to about 35 companies, including suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. The strategy was initially to keep the SAC group small enough to work fast and to align quickly around challenges or differences. Once the tool is developed, however, the idea is to open membership to the apparel and footwear sectors, NGOs, government agencies, and other stakeholders in a way that is affordable to any company of any size.
Current members include: Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce, 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, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.
An apparel industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities..
SAC’s vision and purpose are based shared beliefs:
- The environmental and social challenges around the global apparel supply system affect the entire industry
- These challenges reflect systemic issues that no company can solve alone
- Pre-competitive collaboration can accelerate improvement in environmental and social performance for the industry as a whole and reduce cost for individual companies
- Collaboration enables companies to focus more resources on product and process innovation
- All stakeholders want to see credible, practical, universal standards and tools for defining and measuring environmental and social performance
Desired Environmental and Social Outcomes
Water Use & Quality:
- Improve water-use efficiency and/or re-use in cultivation or production of raw materials (e.g. cotton) and the manufacturing of apparel products
- Minimize the volume and chemical constituents of water discharges associated with apparel manufacturing and eliminate negative impact on local communities
- Reduce the need for water use in garment care by challenging conventional washing practices and developing alternative approaches
- Minimize direct and embedded energy use and carbon in apparel
- Drive innovative design and technology to create apparel that mitigates other carbon
impact (such as reducing the need for heating and air conditioning systems)
- Develop effective uses for textile waste, creating a second life for materials
- Commit to minimizing waste in operations, supply chain, and end-of-life of apparel products
- Reduce the use of chemicals and potentially hazardous materials that pose health or environmental risks if not properly handled in cultivation or production of raw materials, and manufacturing
- Collaborate with industry peers and supply chain partners to achieve full life cycle transparency
- Consider the social and ethical performance impact of all companies and products
- Ensure all workplaces are fair, safe, and non-discriminatory, including zero exposure to toxic chemicals
Design Principles for the Sustainable Apparel Index:
The index must:
China Water Risk recently spoke to Rick Ridgeway, Chairman of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in his capacity as Patagonia’s VP of Environmental Initiatives. Also included in the conversation was Jill Dumain, Director of Environmental Strategy at Patagonia, which is a longtime leader in sustainable manufacturing, founded by environmentalist Yvon Chouinard in 1973. Read this interview.