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WWF Sweden and Google have announced an exciting new partnership that will see the launch of a new data-enriched, decision-making platform that will help drive responsible sourcing decisions in the fashion industry.

If ‘these strange times’ have highlighted anything, it’s that we need to take better care of our planet, and the fashion industry has a lot to answer for. According to Google’s studies, the industry today accounts for 20 percent of wastewater and 2-8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally – potentially rising by as much as 50% by 2030, which mostly occurs at the raw materials stage in the production process.

We’re already starting to see brands address some of the impact it has on the planet. Gucci, for example, is breaking with the conventional fashion calendar and has announced that it will go seasonless, scaling back to show twice a year in order to reduce waste. This announcement came during the COVID-19 lockdown phase, so perhaps this is the silver lining we’ve all been searching for.

The new partnership aims to address these needs further and provide a platform that could be used on a standalone basis or as a complement to the existing efforts that brands have begun making. Big names like Stella McCartney and Ikea are already on board, and a large number of other fashion, luxury, denim, and athletic brands and retailers are expected to follow suit.

The platform uses the Google Cloud technology to provide a more comprehensive view into raw materials of clothing manufacturers’ supply chains and the impact of raw materials used in their products. Each material and sourcing location will be scored on multiple environmental issues such as water scarcity or air pollution, as well as estimating specific impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and accounting for the ‘mitigation benefits’ of more sustainable sourcing options.

“It’s our ambition to create a data-enriched decision-making platform that enables analysis of the supply chain in a way that has not been possible before at this scale,” said Ian Pattison, Head of Customer Engineering, Retail, Google UK/ IE. “Partnering with WWF brings together Google Cloud’s technical capacity, including big-data analysis and machine learning, and WWF’s deep knowledge of assessing raw materials. Together, we can make supply chain data visible and accessible to decision makers, and drive more responsible and sustainable decisions.”

“Sustainability is a challenge that crosses industry boundaries, and we firmly believe that solutions require strong partnerships and collaboration,” said Kate Brandt, Google Sustainability Officer. “Our ambition is to fill fundamental data gaps by bringing greater accuracy to environmental reporting—ultimately moving toward more sustainable processes. By combining our technology, and with data inputs from many key industry brands and retailers, we believe we can significantly magnify this work together.”

“WWF’s partnership work with companies has always been motivated by the need to drive real transformation at the largest possible scale,” said Håkan Wirtén, CEO of WWF Sweden. “This project is an excellent example of how we can take valuable work with a long term partner like IKEA, collaborate with another strong WWF partner like Google to make that work even more powerful, and make it open source so that hopefully it can help with the transformation of a whole industry.”

Personally, we’re excited by this announcement and feel that it could be the change we’ve all been demanding. Watch this space!

What do you think of this announcement? Do you think it will help the fashion industry to reduce it’s environmental impact? Let us know in the comments below.