Industry-Linked Sustainability Standard Allows Clothing Giants to Ramp Up Emissions

Industry-Linked Sustainability Standard Allows Clothing Giants to Ramp Up Emissions

By The Intercept

More than a decade ago, the clothing world’s ultimate would-be do-gooder, Patagonia, partnered with Walmart to clean up the fashion industry’s environmental image. The reason was obvious: The garment industry is the second largest polluter in the world.

The cooperation between the leading brands eventually led to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which would go on to create a standard by which fashion companies could be graded for ecological impact. Now, those standards — despite criticisms that they lead to toothless regulatory frameworks and produce misleading ratings — could be codified in the fashion capital of the United States.

The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, introduced in the New York State Assembly in October 2021, has been heralded as history-making. The act proposes all fashion companies that do business in New York and generate more than $100 million in revenue must map out at least 50 percent of their supply chains and disclose impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, water footprint, and chemical use.

“They’re colluding with the fossil fuel industry to protect their bottom line.”

Critics of the proposed law, however, worry that it would make history for its negative impact: They say the measure was written to greenwash fossil fuel manufacturing by fashion’s worst climate offenders who depend on cheap synthetic fibers — allowing for massive profits, while masking the products’ true environmental costs.

“They’re colluding with the fossil fuel industry to protect their bottom line,” said Dileep Kumar, the program coordinator of the International Sericultural Commission, a nonprofit focused on the global silk industry.

The proposed New York law is part of a larger effort by groups backed by clothing manufacturers to present an environmentally friendly image. Along with the New York bill, organizations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition are leaving their fingerprints on other environmental legislation, such as the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint.

Concerns about the framework proposed in the New York law are already coming under scrutiny in some countries. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, a standardized supply chain measurement tool used by some clothing labels to show their social…

Read Full Story At: The Intercept

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