This initiative includes measuring the environmental impact associated with the production of raw materials, including water and pesticide use in the production of cotton, and deforestation in making viscose. The company is building a tool on Google Cloud that uses machine learning to give brands a more comprehensive view into their supply chain, particularly at the level of raw material production. The tool will include data sources that allow companies to better measure the environmental impact of their raw materials, including air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, landuse and water scarcity. Based on the effectiveness of the pilot, Google will consider expansion into a wider variety of key textiles down the line.
While a growing number of brands are taking steps to reduce plastic waste in their packaging and launch take back schemes to keep old clothing, shoes and accessories out of landfill, few have been able to make a difference at the source. The fashion industry is considered to be one of the most polluting industries on the planet, accounting for 20 per cent of waste water and ten per cent of carbon emissions globally. Much of this impact occurs at the raw material stage in the production process, where brands have little to no visibility.