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Textile Exchange and Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action launch the 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge, a joint industry initiative

Textile and apparel brands are invited to take climate action by joining the 85 brands and suppliers committed to replace their use of virgin polyester with recycled polyester to ultimately shift global volume from an average of 14% to 45% by 2025.

Textile Exchange and the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, convened by UN Climate Change, have launched a joint initiative to spur further a shift in the market towards the uptake of recycled polyester (rPET) and the associated reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs).

With 85 brands and suppliers already committed, the 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge serves as an essential catalyst for change in the apparel and textile industry. The rPET Challenge petitions the apparel industry to commit to increasing the global percentage of recycled polyester from 14% to 45% at 17.1 million metric tons by 2025. The Challenge continues the successful acceleration that began with Textile Exchange’s 2017 Recycled Polyester Commitment.

The 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge asks brands to commit to the most ambitious uptake target possible. High percentage rPET commitments from brands are essential to reaching the 2025 45% recycled volume target and for building critical mass to reach an absolute 90% recycled volume share by 2030.

“Helly Hansen is committed to reducing its dependency on fossil fuels and its overall environmental footprint. We recognize that transferring to the use of recycled raw materials is an important action towards that commitment and are proud to be part of the founding cohort of this joint industry initiative.” Rebecca Johansson, Sustainability and R&D Manager | Helly Hansen

Some of the brands that have committed to date include:

  • Adidas
  • Athleta
  • Aware™ (by The Movement)

  • Banana Republic
  • Focus Têxtil

  • G-Star Raw
  • H&M Group
  • Helly Hansen
  • House of Baukjen
  • Inditex Group
  • ITOCHU Corporation Textile Material section
  • JCrew
  • lululemon athletica
  • Madewell
  • Mantis World
  • Mara Hoffman
  • Moose Knuckles
  • Nudie Jeans
  • Outerknown
  • Pact
  • prAna
  • Reformation
  • Sympatex Technologies
  • Varner
  • VF Corporation
  • White + Warren

“Since our initial use of recycled polyester in 2005, we have adopted rPET in a huge way, focusing on adopting 100% Preferred Fibers by 2025. By using recycled polyester we not only create amazing, high performance garments but we lessen our reliance on fossil fuels and prevent plastic from ending up in landfill. “ Rachel Lincoln, Director of Sustainability | prAna

Join these companies and more by signing up today. 

Why is this important? Polyester (PET) is the most widely used fiber in the apparel industry, accounting for around 52% of the total volume of fibers produced globally. The apparel industry accounts for around 32 million tons of the 57 million tons of polyester used each year. Currently, only approximately 14% of this comes from recycled inputs – predominantly from post-consumer PET bottles (Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber & Materials Market Report 2020).

Recycled polyester has a significantly lower carbon footprint than conventional. To stay within the 1.5-degree pathway as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need to bring the share of mechanically recycled (or equivalent) fiber/filament within the polyester market from 14% to 90% by 2030. By 2025, rPET or equivalent needs to comprise at least 45% of fashion’s polyester market – this is equivalent to roughly 17.1 million metric tons of fiber (assuming a 3% growth rate of the apparel industry). The 17.1 million metric tons of recycled are intended to replace virgin synthetic feedstocks rather than cannibalize other fiber categories or justify increased industry growth.

Today, mechanically recycled polyester from plastic water bottles makes up the vast majority of recycled polyester; however, chemical recycling, textile to textile recycling and other innovative technologies will be a necessary part of reaching our goal. We recognize that more data is needed on the GHG reductions associated with other innovative synthetic alternatives and that even with less significant reductions compared to mechanical recycling, they will be a key part of a market transformation away from fossil fuels. We will continue to explore roadmap scenarios as impact data evolves and as the textile-to-textile recycling market matures.  

What is required to commit? Companies committing to this initiative will be required to annually report their polyester consumption to Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark (CFMB) survey, which will track progress across all participating brands towards the collective goal. All information entered into Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark survey is entirely anonymous and aggregated across all annual report participants to show progress. Company information will never be singled out and published without a company’s explicit request or consent. Brands are required to report once per year by the CFMB deadline, but they have the option to participate in the full benchmark in full or solely to report polyester volumes.

“At Reformation, we have always taken a strong stance against sourcing conventional synthetics (aka fossil-fuel fabrics). Taking part in the 2025 rPET Challenge is aligned with our brand’s circularity and climate action commitments and is a great show of cross-industry commitment for a more sustainable future. Carrie Freiman, Director of Sustainability | Reformation

Textile Exchange will report annually on the 2025 rPET Challenge, utilizing 2019 volume data as a baseline and a view to accomplishing both Textile Exchange’s and the Fashion Charter’s overall commitment to staying within the 1.5-degree pathway.

“The commitment to only source recycled polyester by 2025 is an important milestone on our journey towards recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030. This will help us decrease our impact on the environment, lowering our carbon footprint and saving resources like water, energy and chemicals. The 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge is a great example of taking joint responsibility for the future of the industry.” Anna Biverstål, Sustainability Business Expert Materials & Processes | H&M group

“For over two decades, sustainability has been an integral part of adidas’ way of doing business. As part of our new strategy Own The Game, sustainability will play a key role. We are committed to only be using recycled polyester from 2024. This year we will launch the first running shoe that is made to be remade. By 2025, nine out of ten adidas articles will be sustainable: Made with recycled materials, made to be remade or made with nature.” Katja Schreiber, Senior Vice President Sustainability | adidas

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About Textile Exchange

Textile Exchange is a global nonprofit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization manages and promotes a suite of leading industry standards, as well as collects and publishes critical industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage and track their use of preferred fiber and materials. With a growing membership representing leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange meaningfully accelerates the use of preferred fibers and increases the adoption of standards and certifications across the global textile industry. To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit TextileExchange.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TextileExchange.

About the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action

Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action is an industry-led initiative, convened by UN Climate Change. Its mission is to drive the fashion industry to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions no later than 2050 in line with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. The Fashion Charter provides a platform which enables collaboration between brands, retailers, suppliers, financial institutions and industry bodies to identify and scale climate solutions to drive the industry towards a 1.5-degree future.

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Lubbock, Texas | February 10, 2021 In 2019, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) and Textile Exchange partnered to develop the ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol1 to create a common language among laboratories worldwide to screen for the potential presence of genetically modified (GM) cotton along the organic cotton value chain.

Following that project, the partners set out on a new initiative to bring much-needed clarity regarding the laboratories that perform testing against the international ISO reference protocol and carry out qualitative GMO testing in cottonseed, leaf, fiber, and chemically unprocessed fiber-derived materials.

The global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative is a collaboration between GOTS, OCA and Textile Exchange with technical support from Wageningen Food Safety Research. The joint project has reached a significant milestone: fourteen laboratories from China, Germany, India, the Netherlands, and Portugal have successfully passed the proficiency test. An overview of the laboratories that can currently conduct GMO testing as per the ISO IWA 32:2019 method has now been jointly published by GOTS, OCA and Textile Exchange, which constitutes an important milestone on the journey towards the widespread use of this standardized protocol.

Bringing clarity on GMO testing methods for the organic cotton sector, from seed to shirt

While GMOs are excluded from organic systems, organic isn’t a claim of absolute freedom from contamination or GMOs’ presence in organic products2. It is a claim that GMOs are not deliberately or knowingly used and that organic producers take far-reaching steps to avoid GMO contamination along the organic cotton value chain, from farmers to spinners, to brands. To manage this, it is essential that organic cotton stakeholders can reliably test their products for the potential presence of GM cotton.

The ISO IWA 32:2019 is a globally accepted reference protocol that was developed to screen for the potential presence of genetically modified (GM) cotton. The protocol provided the organic cotton sector with an essential tool for taking all reasonable precautions to prevent GM cotton in their organic cotton produce. Since the publication of this globally accepted reference protocol, qualitative GM cotton screening as per the ISO IWA 32:2019 is mandatory within the GOTS and OCS (Organic Content Standard) supply chain and OCA’s Farmer Engagement and Development program.

The sector now recommends using the ISO IWA 32 protocol throughout the organic cotton value chain as the only recognized method for GMO testing. Therefore, the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative’s success is vital in building confidence among the industry.

Commenting on the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative, OCA’s Programme Officer, Mathilde Tournebize, said: “As a global platform, we are committed to increasing the clarity and reliability of GMO screening for the organic cotton sector. The first results of the global proficiency test initiative have given us an overview of the laboratories that can be contacted to conduct such tests. We’re hopeful that as we see more laboratories implementing the ISO IWA 32:2019 worldwide, several rounds of proficiency tests will help us all chart the labs that can be contacted to reliably conduct GMO tests. We are proud to be working in partnership with both GOTS and Textile Exchange as we are united in our belief that this proficiency test will contribute to standardising GMO testing along the organic cotton value chain. Our ambition is to reach out to more laboratories and geographies to increase the widespread use of the ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol.”

Rahul Bhajekar, Managing Director at GOTS, added: “I am glad to see a high level of interest from laboratories across the world and results showing competence from producing and buying countries. We shall continue to further advance this collaboration with like-minded organisations to further develop the standardisation of GMO testing in cotton fibre products. We remain committed to ensuring that GOTS goods are free from GMOs.”

Amish Gosai, South Asia Manager at Textile Exchange, said: “The success of standardized testing methods depends on adaptability and uniformed results. Labs achieving a successful outcome in the proficiency test indicates both lab performance and the effectiveness of this method. We are glad to see that this initiative shows that the global ISO IWA 32 testing method gives consistent outcomes, and we look forward to more labs joining the next round of the proficiency test.”

A first step into unifying the sector on GMO screening

The ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative will not cease with the current laboratories; the joint initiative will be repeated regularly. More laboratories are welcome to apply for the next round of proficiency test, which will be organized, once sufficient demand has been reached.

The ISO IWA 32 protocol is also currently in the process of being converted to an International Standard by the ISO TC 34 / SC 16 / JWG 12 ‘Molecular biomarkers of agricultural fibres’. GOTS, OCA and Textile Exchange are participating in the working group to ensure that the organic cotton sector interests are represented.

For more information about the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative, please see below.

Are you a GM cotton testing laboratory that implemented the ISO IWA 32:2019 reference protocol and are you interested in joining the next round of proficiency test? Do you have any questions about the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative? Or would you like to update your contact details? Please contact Mathilde Tournebize with your query: secretariat@organiccottonaccelerator.org.

**Notes to the Editor**

1In April 2019, after initial conceptualization by GOTS, OCA developed the ISO International Workshop Agreement 32:2019(E) on “Screening of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in cotton and textiles,” with strategic input from the wider organic cotton sector. The protocol provides requirements and recommendations to laboratories that perform qualitative GM cotton screening in cottonseed, cotton leaf, cotton fiber and chemically unprocessed cotton fiber-derived materials up to greige yarn and fabric. This protocol also clarifies the matrices where good quality DNA can be isolated in cotton fiber-derived materials and textiles. The protocol is the result of a consensus-based ISO International Workshop Agreement, facilitated by the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN). The development process included perspectives and feedback from all parties concerned (over 80 participants from 23 countries), including representatives from laboratories, cotton producers, suppliers, brands and retailers, standard bodies and governmental agencies.

The technical process of the proficiency test carried out in 2020 was managed by Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR), the organization that acted as a technical project leader for the development of the ISO IWA 32:2019 and is accredited for performing proficiency tests according to the ISO/IEC 17043:2010 on ‘Conformity assessment — General requirements for proficiency testing’ (not specifically in the field of GMOs).

Disclaimer: This proficiency test has been organized to obtain a one-off overview of the laboratories that can currently conduct GMO testing as per the ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol. The participating laboratories have been invited based on existing collaborations with the Global Organic Textile Standard, the Organic Cotton Accelerator and Textile Exchange and/or that of their partners, to the best of their knowledge. The results have been made publicly available for informational purpose only. No radical business decision should be made from the results of this proficiency test regarding the current or future cooperation with laboratories that did not participate or do not appear in the overview of laboratories that succeeded in the proficiency test.

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About Organic Cotton Accelerator

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) is a multi-stakeholder organisation dedicated to organic cotton. As a global platform, we are committed to bringing integrity, supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic cotton. Since our establishment in 2016, with founding partners Laudes Foundation, H&M, Kering, Eileen Fisher, Textile Exchange, Tchibo, Inditex and C&A, OCA has been committed to convening the sector around a common agenda and using our platform’s collective investments to act as a catalyst for change.

https://www.organiccottonaccelerator.org

About Textile Exchange

Textile Exchange is a global non-profit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization develops, manages, and promotes a suite of leading industry standards as well as collects and publishes vital industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage, and track their use of preferred fiber and materials. With a membership that represents leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange has, for years, been positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry and is now making it an imperative goal through its 2030 Strategy: Climate+. Under the Climate+ strategic direction, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 45% reduced CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by 2030.

https://textileexchange.org

About Global Organic Textile Standards

GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social criteria. Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highly hazardous chemicals (such as azo dyes and formaldehyde), and child labour, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict wastewater treatment practices. GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters – Organic Trade Association (U.S.), Japan Organic Cotton Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany), and Soil Association (U.K.) to define globally recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from field to finished product. GOTS is a non-profit organisation which is self-financed.

www.global-standard.org

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Lubbock, Texas | February 4, 2021 Textile Exchange has launched version 0.1 of the Leather Impact Accelerator (LIA), and a one-year pilot phase is now underway. All LIA 0.1 documents and components are available for use by interested companies, including benchmarking industry standards, trading Impact Incentives, and making corporate commitments and claims.

LIA is a framework that combines existing industry tools and new concepts into a coherent package and enables leather supply chain members – from farmers to retailers – to contribute to a more responsible leather supply chain. 

The International Working Group (IWG) for LIA voted in favor of all core documents just before the holidays, and the full program launched on January 5, 2021, as version 0.1. In 2021, all LIA components are undergoing piloting to ensure implementation runs smoothly and all aspects of the program achieve a level of impact and credibility that the industry expects. At the close of the pilot year, feedback and results will be used to refine LIA for the release of version 1.0.

The burden of sustainability is too heavy to be supported only by producers.”

Charton Locks, COO Produzindo Certo

LIA is not a standard – instead, it is a program that uses benchmarks and protocols to set a minimum threshold for practices at the farm and leather production levels and gives recognition to those who meet or exceed them. Brands can use Impact Incentives to provide direct financial support to farmers that meet LIA benchmarks, and the LIA Claims Guide provides support for all LIA participants to make credible claims.

There are several opportunities for companies to take part in pilot programs. For more information or to register your interest in participating in a pilot, please contact us.

Textile Exchange is also welcoming brands and retailers to make a public commitment to LIA and set targets through the LIA Corporate Commitment program. Learn more about the opportunity to lead the industry in accelerating impact here.

Learn more about LIA and all its components at TextileExchange.org/LeatherImpactAccelerator.

Watch the LIA 0.1 + Pilot Year Launch Webinar

On January 12, the LIA team hosted the webinar “Leather Impact Accelerator (LIA) 0.1 Launch + Pilot Year.” The recording and presentation slides are available for those who were not in attendance.

Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT)

The work on LIA has been led by the International Working Group that sits under Textile Exchange’s Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT). The RLRT is a platform that brings together stakeholders from all parts of the leather industry and related industries to accelerate the adoption of practices that will lead to measurable reduced GHGs from Tier 4 (particularly those that improve biodiversity, water, and soil health) and advance animal welfare and fair treatment of workers.

The RLRT is open to all and holds virtual meetings periodically; find out how you can participate here.

About Textile Exchange

Textile Exchange is a global nonprofit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization develops, manages, and promotes a suite of leading industry standards as well as collects and publishes vital industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage, and track their use of preferred fiber and materials.

With a membership that represents leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange has, for years, been positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry and is now making it an imperative goal through its 2030 Strategy: Climate+. Under the Climate+ strategic direction, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 45% reduced CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by 2030.

To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit TextileExchange.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TextileExchange.

Read our full response here. 

Textile Exchange’s 2014 Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of Organic Cotton that was produced in 2014 by thinkstep (formerly PE International and now part of Sphera), a neutral third-party, is being questioned in an opinion piece that will be published by Apparel Insider in its bi-monthly printed magazine expected to come out November 2019. The overall intent of the articles written by this author (in the upcoming publication and previously in the May 2019 issue) appears to be to create doubt around the environmental benefits of organic and other sustainable cotton initiatives. This is being done by attempting to discredit the water-saving data that is reported in the LCA of Organic Cotton.

Textile Exchange would like to reassure its Members and stakeholders that we stand behind the data that has been collected and reported in the LCA of Organic Cotton. It was the first of its kind for organic cotton and is the best publicly available LCA on the topic to date; it was based on data collected from every organic cotton producing region, aggregated and weighted according to volume to calculate a global average. LCAs provide a snapshot of a select number of environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy use. Textile Exchange believes that the LCA of Organic Cotton is a useful tool in identifying the benefits of organic farming. We know, without a doubt, that organic agriculture is imperative to sustaining life for future generations. In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Textile Exchange does not find these articles to be based in fact, nor with the scientific rigor that is to be expected in an analysis, but rather they are opinion-pieces. As such, we will not participate in a debate with the author or Apparel Insider who seem to prioritize sensationalism in order to drive traffic to the article and the publication. Textile Exchange has spent countless hours over an eight-month period answering questions and inviting the author to lend her insights as an active member of a wider group of cotton sustainability stakeholders developing ongoing research focusing on data collection for key performance indicators – these invites have gone unanswered.  It is clear that this is not her objective. As a non-profit organization, our limited resources are better spent on projects where we can influence positive change and collaborate effectively without bias and within a scientifically sound framework. Access our full response to Apparel Insider here along with the full message to Textile Exchange Members and stakeholders.

Textile Exchange in the News

  • Preferred Cotton

    Textile Exchange defines Preferred Cotton as ecologically and/or socially progressive because of its sustainable properties in comparison to other options.

  • Recycled Polyester (rPET)

    Recycled polyester is promoted by Textile Exchange as a preferred fiber because it reduces our dependence on petroleum.

  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS)

    Textile Exchange’s Responsible Down Standard (RDS) safeguards the welfare of geese and ducks that provide down and feathers for products we love.

  • Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)

    Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is a voluntary global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and of the land they graze on.

  • Textile Exchange Members

    Textile Exchange provides our Members with knowledge and tools to drive industry transformation and to Create Material Change.