Program Cycle

The PFM Benchmark program follows a cyclic and systematic approach to supporting companies integrating preferred fibers and materials into their business strategy.

  • Connector.

    Development

    October-April

    Program review and upgrades

  • Connector.

    Participation

    May-June

    Launch of new survey in May

  • Connector.

    Analysis

    July-August

    Submission review and results preparation

  • Connector.

    Reporting

    September

    Company feedback and sector report

  • Connector.

    Bench learning

    October-November

    Conference and peer learning program (tbc)

Ways to Engage

PFM
Benchmark

All benchmark questions & consumption volumes. Feedback report includes index scores, rankings, and a gap analysis.

Consumption Tracker

Alternative, lighter option for companies wishing to report progress towards consumption targets.
 

rPET
Commitment

Brands commit to increase use of rPET by at least 25% by 2020.
Find out more.
 

Sustainable Cotton Challenge

Brands commit to sustainably sourcing 100% of their cotton by 2025. Find out more.
 

The PFM Benchmark is a great tool and has helped us develop insights and strategies into areas for improvement. It’s not about being first or last on the chart, it’s more about learning and moving forward as an industry in a positive manner.

– Manu Rastogi, Kathmandu

Nudie Jeans repair Shop, Soho, London. Photo: Nudie Jeans

Benchmark Framework

Our framework follows a systematic approach to integrating PFMs into business strategy. It is divided into four key areas:

Corporate Strategy looks at how fiber and materials are integrated into the business, and the tools a company uses to guide more sustainable sourcing decisions. It also identifies who holds accountability and responsibility to deliver on fiber and material sustainability.

Supply Chain determines the organizational approach to safeguarding the integrity, responsible growth, and supply security of the company’s preferred fibers and materials. This section looks at use of sustainability standards, supply chain transparency, and investment.

The Consumption section quantifies the volumes of preferred fibers and materials used by the company and captures year-on-year trends in converting from conventional fibers and materials to preferred options.

Consumer Engagement takes a look at the range of products and markets that the company’s preferred fibers and materials are entering. It covers B2C factors such as labeling, communications, and return on investment.

Companies follow a self-assessment process intended to help identify the strengths and the gaps where future progress can be made. By comparing section scores with those achieved by the whole sector, companies can plan improvement efforts and prioritize action areas. Companies receive confidential feedback on their results and a position in the PFM Index, enabling them to to compare progress with the sector, and to transparently communicate performance and progress to stakeholders.

Facing the reality that resources are scarce and that the population is continuing to grow, ARMEDANGELS, as a sustainable fashion brand solely uses preferred materials. The tool does not only provide us with a material benchmark of the industry in general; but also supports us in our own research on materials that are ecologically optimized and socially and ethically advanced and serves as a further spur to continuously make progressive change.

– Levinia Muth, ARMEDANGELS

Waste Collectors, Haiti. Photo: Thread International

DEFINING A PREFERRED FIBER OR MATERIAL

Textile Exchange describes a preferred fiber or material as ecologically and/or socially* progressive which has been selected because it has more sustainable properties in comparison to other options.

Ways to recognize or achieve a preferred status include:

The fiber or material has a recognized industry standard in place that confirms its status as preferred.

The fiber or material has sustainability criteria developed through a formalized multistakeholder process.

The fiber or material has been objectively tested or verified as having sustainability attributes, such as through a peer reviewed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Data available now is proving that some of the biggest sustainability impacts and “hotspots” of textile production occur in the growing and extracting of raw materials.

A portfolio approach involves building a suite of preferred fibers and materials, from a choice of preferred options, through the consideration of impacts and organizational priorities. It involves embedding a strategy that leads to preferred options replacing unsustainable or less sustainable options*.

A preferred fiber and materials strategy should be based on the principles of continuous improvement and result in a positive impact.

Benchmark Portfolio Options:

The benchmark program allows participants to build their own portfolio based on the PFMs their company is implementing. The survey currently offers modules on the following PFMs:

As part of H&M’s efforts of leading the change towards a sustainable textile industry, we see partnership and cooperation as key for success. The Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber Benchmark is a great example of driving industry wide and credible increase in the use of preferred fibers with traceability from raw material to final product. We use the benchmark and market report for industry insights and as support in driving traceability initiatives.

– Mattias Bodin, H&M

Maine Forester, USA. Photo: Sappi North America, Inc

HOW THE BENCHMARK ALIGNS WITH THE SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are universal (for both developed and developing countries), holistic (people-centered and planet-sensitive), and measurable. Many companies are adopting the framework of the SDGs to plan a long-term approach to sustainability. Data available now is proving that some of the biggest sustainability impacts and “hotspots” of textile production occur in the growing and extracting of raw materials.

The PFM Benchmark provides an important entry point to the SDGs. Company and industry-wide progress toward 2030 can be tracked through the PFM Benchmark. For the textile industry, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production is the gateway to many of the other SDGs, such as sustainable agriculture/zero hunger, land use, and industry innovation. Through improved practices on the land and in the fiber mills there is huge potential to reduce water and energy use, improve water quality, and decrease CO2 emissions.

The PFM Benchmark Interacts with the Sustainable Development Goals

Why is the PFM Benchmark Important?

It Supports a Company’s Transition From Conventional to Preferred Fibers and Materials

Knowing where raw materials come from is key to assessing supply risks and opportunities.

Science-based data (e.g. LCA) is proving that some of the biggest sustainability impacts of textile production occur during the production and mining of raw materials.

It Demonstrates Commitment to Measuring Progress, Transparency & Disclosure

There is growing pressure from stakeholders to measure both management and progress, and for public disclosure.

 The industry at large is seeking reliable means to credibly and consistently account for and communicate progress.
 

It Links the Textile Industry to the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs are universal (for both developed and developing countries), holistic (people-centered and planet-sensitive), and measurable.

Many companies are adopting the framework of the SDGs to plan a long-term approach to sustainability.
 

As a brand that is purpose-driven and committed to sustainability, we use the PFM annual surveys to benchmark our fiber use and practices against the industry, and gain insights into our internal operations and processes surrounding preferred materials. The PFM Benchmark Insights are an invaluable resource for understanding the global systems impacting these fibers.

– Katina Boutis, Loomstate

Responsible Down Farmer, China. Photo: Allied Feather & Down

Frequently Asked Questions

Textile Exchange’s mission is to accelerate the uptake of preferred fiber and materials. This objective is built on the urgency to respond to key risks for the textile industry and the huge opportunity for the industry to play a major role in meeting the 2030 Global Coals (the Sustainable Development Goals). These risks and opportunities are most likely to occur during the production of raw materials. By creating a benchmark program for companies, Textile Exchange not only measures and reports company and industry progress, but provides strategic direction for the companies that participate. Through program engagement alone, companies embark on a “bench learning” journey, with the support of Textile Exchange staff and fellow participants. The contributing and receiving of knowledge creates a virtuous circle of learning and improving.
All textiles start off as raw materials grown or extracted from the earth, depending on and impacting natural capital and ecosystem services. The issues and impacts associated with both natural and synthetic materials are becoming increasingly problematic. The textile industry’s dependency upon “cheap” and “plentiful” raw materials has to change. Often the issues and impacts at the start of the supply chain (the first mile) are invisible to those further along the chain and to the end consumers – and they are often the most significant. Research, including life cycle assessment and socio-economic studies, is finding that much of the industry’s negative impact occurs at the raw materials stage. Ultimately we must move towards a circular economy; an economy that recognizes the interconnectedness of raw materials production and the ecosystems on which it impacts and depends upon, one that designs out waste, and re-thinks linear supply chains as value circles.

Textile companies, with the roots of their businesses in the fields, forests, and deep in the ground, have an important role to play in the transition to a more resilient and circular economy. Moving towards a preferred fiber and materials portfolio is part of that transition and is a significant way to improve impact. Innovators in the sector such as agro-ecological farmers, materials recyclers, and eco-designers are shining the light on the path ahead. Our challenge – and opportunity – is how to accelerate, replicate and bring this innovation to scale.

In 2015, Textile Exchange launched the Preferred Fiber & Materials (PFM) Benchmark Program for measuring how a company systematically integrates a preferred fiber and materials strategy into mainstream business operations. Industry-led, voluntary and self-assessed, the PFM Benchmark has established itself as a leading global benchmark for the textile industry.

The PFM Benchmark offers a quantified index ranking and reveals a company’s position in relation to peers and the overall industry (universe of participants). It provides an indicator of progress, helps companies identify strengths and gaps, and encourages year-on-year improvement and a “race to the top.” Company participants see a lot of detail about their performance, and industry averages are reported for public consumption.

All participants receive customized and confidential Company Feedback Reports. Company Feedback Reports offer a useful tool for each participating company to share with important internal and external stakeholders, including the investment community.

Explicit links are made between the PFM Benchmark and the Sustainable Development Goals – in particular SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production. Companies are starting to adopt the framework of the SDGs and TE’s PFM Benchmark is built on foundations that align with this work.

Up to now (2018), the program has been open to all brands and retailers of textile products. Going forward into 2019 the program will be open to all textile and apparel companies wanting to measure progress in their sourcing and use of preferred fibers and materials.
Due to the generous support of C&A Foundation and German multi-sector company Tchibo, there is no fee to participate. However, as the program has grown considerably since the pilot in 2015, Textile Exchange is looking for ways to ensure the quality of the program. With more participants taking part and more interest from external stakeholders including investors, the delivery model is under review (updates to the model and program overall will be released early 2019).
This depends upon a company’s starting position and its size. If you have all the information to hand, the survey can be completed in a matter of hours. However, most participants gather information as they go, so the process takes longer. Returnees receive a “pre-populated” survey, which means that the previous year’s answers are carried over where appropriate. All the company then needs to do is review and adjust where necessary. Annual reporting of consumption data is the main area for fresh calculations and input. For companies new to the survey, there is some work involved in organizing data streams and in determining who needs to be involved, and who will lead on the coordination of the survey submission. Textile Exchange is here to guide participants every step of the way. We have developed various resources, such as guidance notes and a Quick Guide to PFMs, and are available by email, telephone, or to meet in person.
Each year, the survey opens in May and companies have six weeks to make their submissions. As mentioned, Textile Exchange is always on hand and happy to support this process. Once the survey closes, Textile Exchange undertakes a systematic review of all submissions and checks for consistency, completeness, and accuracy. Note that this is NOT an audit – submissions are considered self-assessment. However, we do expect a sign-off from a senior member of staff declaring that all information is truthful.
To express your interest in joining the PFM Benchmark Program, do not hesitate to contact the TEam by emailing Support@TextileExchange.org To find out more about the program, visit our website – https://textileexchange.org/preferred-fiber-materials-benchmark/ – or to register or sign back in (if you are a returnee) you can go directly to http://pfm.textileexchange.org/portal


The PFM Benchmark is managed through a portal called “Probench” developed by our software partners, 73Bit Ltd.

This Program is kindly sponsored by:

   

Quick Links

About organic cotton

Organic cotton is cotton that is produced and certified to organic agricultural standards.

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PFM ROUND TABLES

Preferred Fiber & Material Round Tables

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2017 Market reports

The 2017 Preferred Fiber & Materials Report and the Organic Cotton Market Report are joined by the "Insider" Series.

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PFM Benchmark

The Preferred Fiber & Materials (PFM) Benchmark helps companies measure, manage and integrate a PFM strategy.

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SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT

A framework for assessing the environmental, social & economic impacts of organic cotton agriculture.

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Glossary

A selection of some of the key terms and abbreviations used in the industry.

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