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Textile Exchange releases 2023 Materials Benchmark report

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Ecoalf jacket made of recycled PET bottles Credits: Ecoalf via BCome

Global non-profit Textile Exchange has unveiled its 2023 Materials Benchmark reports, which shows the advancements made by both brands and suppliers in sourcing more sustainable materials.

With 394 participating brands and retailers, as well as 52 suppliers and manufacturers, Textile Exchange's Materials Benchmark stands as the fashion, textile, and apparel industry's most extensive peer-to-peer comparison initiative.

The program offers a standardised framework, fostering consistency in sustainability reporting at the materials level by tracking the adoption of preferred fibers and raw materials. It also assesses companies' approaches to circularity, biodiversity, land, freshwater, and forests.

Key trends for brands and retailers

  • Participants are expanding their sustainability strategies for raw materials, with 95 percent incorporating sustainability strategies into their operations.
  • Brands are beginning to address climate impacts through goal setting and risk assessment, with 64 percent setting science-based targets for climate.
  • Sustainability programs and standards are considered accessible solutions, but further progress is needed in transitioning key materials to preferred sources.
  • A more circular economy requires additional progress, with 50 percent of participants taking action to decouple value creation from new raw material extraction.
  • Improved visibility to the countries of origin for fibers and raw materials is crucial, as 80 percent of participants lack traceability to the raw materials' origin.

Key trends for suppliers and manufacturers

  • Suppliers are establishing strategies for materials sustainability, but risk assessments related to raw materials are lacking.
  • Measuring impacts on climate and nature is a relatively new area, with 25 out of 52 participants addressing this aspect through greenhouse gas calculations and life cycle assessments.

The Textile Exchange highlighted that while participants are increasingly utilizing preferred materials, there is a need for a more targeted emphasis on key fiber types. Preferred raw materials constitute 52 percent of the overall reported materials from suppliers and manufacturers. An additional 5 percent is sourced from recycled materials, with conventional materials making up the remaining 43 percent. Notably, conventional practices still dominate for some widely used fiber types like cotton and polyester. Conversely, materials reported in smaller volumes, such as cashmere, flax, and hemp, predominantly originate from preferred sources.

There is considerable untapped potential for suppliers to take the lead in circular solutions. While progress is being made in developing circularity strategies, the primary focus currently centers on recycling post-consumer waste. However, there exists substantial unexplored potential to further enhance and extend efforts in the realm of circularity.

Circular Fashion
Sustainable Fashion
Textile Exchange