Textile Exchange publicly launches the Preferred Fiber and Materials Matrix, a tool to enable a holistic understanding of certified material choices.
In this latest release of Preferred Fiber and Materials Matrix, updated human rights, chemical management, and initiative integrity content assesses the performance of different sustainability standards within material categories.
September 19, London – In a milestone move, Textile Exchange announces the launch of the newly updated Preferred Fiber and Materials Matrix (PFMM), publicly available for the first time.
Now an open-source tool for the industry, the PFMM assesses the performance of different sustainability standards within material categories, across 80 qualitive and quantitative indicators.
This interactive tool is designed to show what is covered – and what is not – within various standards, across a range of impact areas. It gives the owners of these standards systems a way to view their performance in a standardized way and toward a shared “direction of travel” for beneficial impact, while also helping brands to make informed material sourcing decisions.
According to the EU Commission, it is estimated that over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase, making material choices critical in reducing environmental impact.
The interactive PFMM tool assesses standards systems across impact areas including Climate, Water, Chemicals, Land, Resource Use and Waste, Biodiversity, Human Rights, and Animal Welfare. In addition, Initiative Integrity measures the robustness and governance of a given standard system.
Of the 80 indicators, six are quantitative, based on life cycle assessment (LCA) data. In addition, the PFMM includes qualitative indicators, such as having explicit requirements around management systems and monitoring – for example around emissions management or demonstrating beneficial environmental outcomes.
Textile Exchange adopted the PFMM in 2020, which was originally conceived by Gap Inc. for its internal designers and product teams. Since then, significant updates have been made, including bringing the methodology fully in-house and updating the content behind each impact area, informed by expert opinion and leading authorities in each subject.
Key PFMM updates
- The refreshed methodology has added indicators for Human Rights and Initiative Integrity, which measures the robustness and governance of a given standard system.
- Subject matter expert organizations were engaged to support the development of methodology updates, including Ergon Associates for the redevelopment of the Human Rights indicators; NewForesight for the redevelopment of the Initiative Integrity indicators; and ZDHC for the Chemicals indicators.
- The user interface has been updated for improved usability, including separating paired standard systems (such as EU Organic Regulation and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)), enabling users to view the performance of each. This also allows users to better understand how standards can be paired, to gain greater coverage of environmental and social practices across supply chain tiers.
- The overall performance score has been removed, encouraging users to focus on the scoring within impact areas.
- The methodology incorporates both qualitative and quantitative indicators, providing a holistic understanding of environmental and social performance. However, more work is needed to ensure relevant impact data is available for standard systems; Textile Exchange is working with its members to fund high-quality LCA studies to help fill critical quantitative data gaps.
It should be noted that standards systems are not a definitive solution to environmental and social challenges within supply chains and should be seen as an important tool within a broader framework of due diligence strategies.
The next phase of PFMM development will focus on expanding the standards systems assessed within the cotton material category. Beyond this, the focus in 2024 will be on making the tool applicable to a broader range of initiatives, including branded fibers and other types of sustainability programs.
“We are thrilled to release the initial updates to the Preferred Fiber and Materials Matrix tool, which we believe will be useful for both brands and standards systems to provide a holistic view of impacts beyond just LCA data,” said Beth Jensen, Climate+ Impact Director, Textile Exchange. “The PFMM will continue to help the industry understand what constitutes a ‘preferred’ material, and we are looking forward to building the number of programs that are included in the tool in order to maximize its utility.”
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