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Tech giant joins fight for sustainable fashion


4 June 2019 at 4:53 pm
Luke Michael
Google is partnering with Stella McCartney to measure the environmental impact of the fashion industry and improve sustainability in clothing supply chains.  


Luke Michael | 4 June 2019 at 4:53 pm


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Tech giant joins fight for sustainable fashion
4 June 2019 at 4:53 pm

Google is partnering with Stella McCartney to measure the environmental impact of the fashion industry and improve sustainability in clothing supply chains.  

The tech giant is building a tool that uses data analytics and machine learning to give brands a more comprehensive view into their supply chain, particularly around raw material production.

This pilot project aims to help brands determine the impact of producing raw materials, so they can make more ethical sourcing decisions.  

Google is teaming up with McCartney – whose eponymous fashion brand prides itself on sustainability – to translate the data into meaningful insights for the industry to take action on.

“At Stella McCartney we have been continuously focusing on looking at responsible and sustainable ways to conduct ourselves in fashion, it is at the heart of what we do,” McCartney said.

“We are trying our best – we aren’t perfect, but we are opening a conversation that hasn’t really been had in the history of fashion.”

A UN report found that the fashion industry accounts for 20 per cent of wastewater and 10 per cent of carbon emissions globally.

Much of this impact is at the raw materials stage in the production process, which is why this is a focus of the initiative.

The project will initially look at cotton and viscose, because of the scale of these materials’ production and the impact they have on the environment.

Nick Martin, the head of retail at Google Cloud, said the pilot will enable the company to test the effectiveness of the tool on different raw materials, while opening the possibility for its expansion into a wider variety of key textiles.

“We plan to include data sources that allow companies to better measure the impact of their raw materials, relevant to key environmental factors such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water scarcity,” Martin said.

“Our goal is not only to be able to determine the impact of producing these raw materials, but also compare the impacts of these in different regions where they are produced.”

The pilot was announced at last month’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which also saw the unveiling of a Circular Design Workbook providing designers and creators with a common language for circularity and sustainability.

The guide offers 10 key principles for circular fashion: materials, cyclability, waste avoidance, disassembly, green chemistry, refurbishment, versatility, durability, packaging and new models.

John Hoke, the chief design officer of Nike, said: “We have an obligation to consider the complete design solution, inclusive of how we source it, make it, use it, return it and, ultimately, how we reimagine it.

“The guide and its related workbook share principles that support a universal call to action for our industry: We must all come together and have a more positive impact on our planet.”


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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