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Insights from the EAI’s attendance at Planet Textiles (The Sustainable Textiles Summit)

Guest Blog by Dr. Marguerite Moore

The following blog was written by Dr. Marguerite Moore from the Wilson College of Textiles. Thank you for writing up your insights Marguerite!

On June 13-14th, 2023 I attended the Planet Textiles meeting, hosted as a partner event at this year’s ITMA Expo in Milan. Sponsored by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Planet Textiles brought together industry stakeholders to discuss the state of sustainability efforts in apparel supply chains. Though the meeting focused primarily on environmental sustainability, including efforts to reduce carbon emissions and toxic chemicals, the discourse offered valuable insights that are directly applicable to the EAI project, which focuses on decent work. The broad experiences demonstrated through attendees’ efforts to manage complex sustainability phenomena (i.e., define, regulate, measure & communicate) suggest features that support the EAI methodology and provide considerations for continued development.

Numerous panelists discussed a need to develop tools that will allow the industry to communicate the positive ESG efforts that companies undertake which require considerable investment and resource commitment. The goal of the Ethical Apparel Index is to provide an understandable communication tool that informs consumers of the efforts that factories undertake to provide decent work – thereby building greater transparency. Panelists and attendees also discussed the importance of including multiple stakeholders in planning initiatives that require their input for effective implementation, which is a key component of the EAI methodology. In particular, the meeting attendees discussed the vital importance of including factories in planning for the coming EU legislation as well as related regulatory developments.

Moving forward, the EAI can apply additional insights from the Planet Textiles discussion. Many challenges remain, but the industry is moving past a focus on compliance to a one of due diligence. A number of attendees voiced a strong need to evolve beyond the cost driven business model that has dominated our industry for decades to one that considers ensuing environmental and human risks. From a practical perspective, efforts to make data collection easy for factories, investing in skill development and building inter-dependence in supply chains can lead to greater transparency and build competitive advantage in an uncertain world.