Textile Exchange has launched Materials Impact Explorer (MIE), a “first-of-its-kind risk assessment tool” specifically for the fashion, textile, and apparel industry. 

Introduced in collaboration with Google, the National Genomic Information System (NGIS) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the free, publicly available tool assesses environmental risk across impact areas, providing risk ratings and associated recommendations for brands based on their sourcing portfolios.

The tool “will support brands in understanding their sourcing risks associated with raw material country of origin and will help them develop strategies and mitigation plans to reduce the risks and environmental impacts associated with their sourcing”, Textile Exchange said.

Risk is assessed using over 160 data sets, from Google Earth Engine (covering topics such as vegetation cover type and changes in water surface volumes), The World Bank, The World Health Organisation, Quantis WALDB, and the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT).

Textile Exchange says an estimated 24% of the fashion industry’s carbon footprint comes from its raw materials. “[So] fashion brands want to better understand the risks associated with their sourcing decisions and the opportunities to partner within those communities to manage and mitigate the risks, but they haven’t previously had a turnkey way to assess this”.

The pilot version of the tool was developed in in 2021. Since then, Textile Exchange has been partnering with industry and environmental experts “to enrich the logic and modelling that underpins the tool”, as well as to develop the recommendations provided to tool users. Brands including H&M Group, Stella McCartney, and Reformation have been the first to review and pilot the MIE.

The relaunch of the MIE will assess risk across three core categories: Climate, Freshwater, and Biodiversity. Forests and Air Pollution will be added as part of the next phase of tool development.

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