Sustainability stands out as post-pandemic trend
The importance of sustainability to consumers has “massively increased in importance even among lower incomes,” said Konstantinos Apostolatos, managing director and senior partner for The Boston Consulting Group. The accelerated interest is going to change how companies communicate with consumers and collaborate with their customers and suppliers, according to the Food Business News.
Francois Faelli, global leader of Bain & Company’s consumer products practice, said companies need to apply nuance when thinking about strategies to approach sustainability.
“(During the pandemic) consumers were confronted with their waste for the first time — 100% of their waste,” he said. “And now consumers are buying sustainable products like never before but there is still a gap. When you ask (consumers) what they buy against they say it’s price, quality and convenience. They don’t say sustainability.”
That gap may be closing, said Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, a consultancy focused on sustainability.
“Searches for how to live a sustainable life increased 4,550% (on Google) during the pandemic,” she said. “The question is who is going to give them that? I’m finding my clients aren’t pivoting fast enough to give them that need. There is a huge need for more sustainable, more ethical, healthier products.”
Sustainable fashion is thriving
With the pandemic putting a stop to in-person shopping, people were forced to get creative about their style while staying safe, according to USA Today. Clothing resale apps like Depop and Mercari have gained momentum and popularized secondhand and vintage clothing.
Experts believe sustainable fashion is here to stay. Laura Madden, a sustainable fashion expert and influencer, believes the isolating nature of the pandemic influenced some to reflect on the effects their choices have on the environment.
“More of us were stuck at home consuming information from our devices, and with the continuing growth of social media, there was just so much more information out there: more people speaking up unfiltered and unashamed about the impact of fashion on the environment,” Madden says.’
“When we start to have more knowledge, we shift our decisions about what we buy to align with our moral values,” says Claire Bates, a sustainable and circular fashion consultant.
Though both experts acknowledge more consumers are changing their shopping habits to be more ethical, some simply cannot afford to be more sustainable because of the price point, and not all sustainable brands offer inclusive options for sizing and ability.
Ten tips for sustainability professionals in the fashion & textiles industry
Increased focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship is changing the legal and regulatory landscape affecting the fashion and textiles industry, according to the National Law Review. Here are ten tips for sustainability professionals to navigate compliance issues throughout their supply chains:
1. Identify all the materials used in your product.
It is important for textile manufacturers to have a thorough understanding of the materials used in the manufacture and construction of their products. Om addition to existing regulations, recycled content mandates and labeling requirements are becoming increasingly common both in the United States and globally.
2. Conduct due diligence to minimize supply chain risks.
Responsible sourcing is a growing focus for both U.S. and international regulators. It is important for companies with complex supply chains to conduct due diligence to identify and eliminate human rights and modern slavery risks. Due diligence also provides companies with documentation to present to regulators in the event that regulators bring an enforcement action.
3. Track changing environmental laws and regulations in all jurisdictions where your business operates.
To reduce risk exposure, it is critical to understand the environmental legal regimes in the countries and regions in which you operate. To reduce enforcement risks, it is important to review periodically the environmental laws and regulations impacting your operations in key jurisdictions to proactively adapt to any changes.
4. Know and follow reporting requirements.
The Securities Exchange Commission has revisited the need for climate-related disclosures and is dedicating enforcement efforts to addressing consistency across filings. Internationally, countries such as the United Kingdom and the EU have implemented or are seeking to implement disclosure requirements modeled after voluntary reporting requirements, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. It is important to understand the reporting requirements in your key areas of operation, as well as ensure accuracy and consistency of disclosures.
5. Satisfy applicable extended producer responsibility requirements.
Recently, a handful of states introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation for plastic packaging that has implications for the fashion and textiles industry. California, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, and Washington have all proposed some type of EPR legislation related to packaging, Companies with international operations could be impacted by textile disposal laws, such as France’s Anti-Waste law, which bans companies from destroying unsold inventory, such as clothing, shoes, and other products.
6. Review eco-friendly marketing campaigns to ensure compliance with green marketing rules.
Companies that seek to make environmental claims regarding their products must be sure that such claims are accurate and can be substantiated with data. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought suit against textile manufacturers and retailers for making false or misleading claims relating to the environmental impact of their products, inconsistent with the FTC Green Guides. The Green Guides should be reviewed before external issuance of any specific environmental claim on a given product.
7. Integrate sustainability company-wide.
Sustainability principles should be integrated company-wide in order to have a real effect. All levels within your company should be represented to help ensure company-wide integration.
8. Get buy-in from the top.
To integrate sustainability company-wide, ensure that even the top levels of your company are on board and visible to others—internally and externally.
9. Consider investing in sustainability.
A number of legitimate sustainability initiatives capitalize on existing corporate practices to achieve sustainable ends. The key is treating sustainability just like any other business.
10. Expect increased enforcement.
Heightened focus on environmental compliance in the U.S., alongside the significant environmental footprint of the fashion and textiles industry, suggests that it may face greater regulatory controls and enforcement in 2021 and 2022. U.S. fashion and textiles industry participants should continue to track legislative, regulatory, and policy developments to proactively manage and mitigate any enforcement risk in domestically based operation.
In shift, top U.S. fund group backs sustainability disclosure rules
An investment industry leader urges U.S. regulators to require listed companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions data and worker demographic information, endorsing efforts to make such details available to ordinary shareholders, according to Reuters.
The call from Eric Pan, president of the Investment Company Institute, came in response to a request for public comment from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on how it might direct companies to report more about the environmental and social impact of their operations. The institute represents mutual funds, their shareholders and investment advisers.
Investors have poured money into funds that base investment decisions on sustainability criteria, in turn prodding big fund firms to support shareholder proposals for corporate reforms.