Embracing Digital Solutions For Environmental Impact Measurement in the Textile Industry

It's no secret that the textile industry has a detrimental effect on the environment — every inch of fabric produced amounts to extra pressure on the Earth and its natural resources. Aside from accounting for an estimated 10% of global greenhouse emissions, clothing production impacts the environment in several other important ways. 

Firstly, there's the issue of water usage. A staggering 93 billion cubic liters of water is consumed by the textile industry annually, according to a 2017 report. That represents 4% of annual freshwater withdrawal worldwide, and these figures are set to double by 2030.  

Another serious problem is the pollution of freshwater sources. To achieve the bright, attractive colors that appeal to consumers, manufacturers often use toxic chemicals in the dyeing process. Around 8,000 different synthetic chemicals are currently employed around the world. Second only to agriculture, the dyeing and treatment of textiles contribute roughly 20% of all industrial water pollution. And, it's not only rivers and lakes that are suffering. Multiple studies have revealed that severe contamination of groundwater sources occurs through the release of dyeing effluents. This has disastrous consequences, particularly in developing countries, where clean groundwater supplies are vital in many communities.     

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Furthermore, approximately 85% of all garments find their way into landfills, representing 7 to 10% of all garbage committed to such dumping grounds. In addition to problems of biodegradability, there is also the matter of methane emissions to consider. As water decomposes in landfills, vast amounts of methane are generated. This gas is 25 times more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2, which makes it a significant contributor to global warming. In the United States alone, landfills are responsible for 18% of the country's total methane emissions, with discarded clothing making up a sizable chunk of that percentage. 

A Lack of Science-Backed Supply Chain Data

To address this pressing concern, manufacturers will need to start paying closer attention to the natural resources they use to create their fabrics to reduce waste and environmental impact. Unfortunately, part of the problem is the inability or failure of many companies to record and monitor their environmental impact. This is understandable: Quantifying the precise amount of water or energy used to produce an individual item can be a time-consuming and costly process. Moreover, the requisite solutions for accurately gauging the environmental impact of fabrics have thus far been sorely lacking.  

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Given these obstacles, it's hardly surprising that very few brands have successfully implemented environmental impact measurement at the product level. What's more, even those companies that do tout their green credentials often struggle to provide concrete data from across the supply chain, leaving customers skeptical about how reliable such claims of sustainable practices really are. 

A Trackable and Traceable Workflow is Needed

For companies aiming for complete transparency and traceability in the sourcing of fabrics and manufacturing of apparel, help is now at hand. At Frontier.cool, we are blazing a new trail by partnering with the industry-leading provider of validated impact measurement solutions, Made2Flow. 

Frontier.cool can deliver comprehensive material-level impact measurements thanks to the latest innovative technologies. This includes precise data on such impact elements as CO2 emissions, water consumption, energy usage, and even land use. Better yet: All of this crucial information can be accessed instantly, with a simple click of a mouse or touchpad.  

Image source: Frontier.cool UI

With Frontier.cool's 4D-ready digital materials, an extra layer of commercial data is provided for all fabric samples. Information on aspects of production such as lead times, country of origin, and remaining stock is supplemented by key environmental figures for C02 emissions, water consumption, and energy use. By embracing the transition to digital fashion, powered by connected datasets, designers, manufacturers, and brands can better understand and reduce the environmental impact of their fabrics and move toward sustainable business models. In doing so, they can become a part of a new industrial revolution grounded on ethical, eco-friendly principles.     

There are no longer barriers preventing access to the data required to facilitate environmental impact reduction. The solutions are now within reach for all. 4D-ready digital materials such as those offered by Frontier.cool point the way toward a brighter, healthier future for our planet. 

Schedule a consultation with Frontier.cool to discover how to unlock the environmental impact measurement data of your fabrics.