How can companies judge progress in their sustainability efforts – both year-on-year and in comparison with their peers? The Preferred Fiber & Materials (PFM) Benchmark provides a robust structure to help companies systematically measure, manage and integrate a preferred fiber and materials strategy into mainstream business operations, to compare progress, and to transparently communicate performance and progress to stakeholders.
2018 Textile Sustainability Conference
Plenary session: Persuasion and data – how to influence at a high level
Moderator: Liesl Truscott, Textile Exchange
Panelists from left to right: Helen Crowley, Kering, Nanda Bergstein, Tchibo, Charline Ducas, C&A, Cara Charcon, Patagonia, Alfred Vernis, Inditex
Panelists discussed the importance of fibers and materials to business strategy, how to make a business case through benchmarking, and convince others of the business imperative, including c-suite and staff colleagues.
Three Years of Benchmarking
Heading in the right direction
The PFM Benchmark has evolved over three years of operation into the largest peer to peer comparison initiative in the sector. 111 companies participated in 2018, with average index scores increasing from 49 to 56 over the period.
Third year of benchmarking following a successful pilot
Growth in participation now 111 companies
(87 Benchmark, 24 Consumption Tracker)
Improvement in scores year-on-year
Spotlight on the Founders Club
Of the 87 companies who completed the benchmark survey this year, 43 have completed it three years in a row. These 43 companies formed the Founders Club, outperforming their peers by 12.5%, with ALDI, Burberry and Woolworths recording the biggest improvements. (If we take into consideration all 111 participants, 81 percent have continued in the program in one form or the other for the past three years.)
43 out of 87 – almost 50% retention rate consecutively across 3 years
The Founders Club are
outperforming the rest
Biggest movers over 3 years
Barometer of Progress
The PFM Index barometer provides a scale to measure performance. In 2018, the proportion of companies in each performance banding improved again, slightly. The biggest move was between “developing” and “establishing” indicating continued movement along the scale.
PFM INDEX – RESULTS OVER 3 YEARS
In 2018, we’ve seen an overall increase across all Sections of the Index. Corporate Strategy is still ahead of the rest of the Index, while Consumer Engagement remains the biggest opportunity for improvement.
The PFM Index average is the average of all participant scores. It is calculated from Section 1 scores plus the average score for Sections 2, 3 and 4 for a company’s top three performing modules. All scores are out of 100.
The Index average moved up 3 points, from 53 out of 100 in 2017, to 56 in 2018. Since 2016, the Index average improved by 14.2%. See Sector Feedback Report for breakdown by sub-sector.
A special thank you and CONGRATULATIONS to all this year’s 111 Benchmarkers. Your willingness to join us on this journey, publicly disclose your company’s participation, and commitment to improving makes you sector leaders. Your confidential feedback reports are available now from the PFM Portal. Those who didn’t participate in 2018 can access a sample Company Feedback Report here. The complete Sector and Sub-sector Feedback Report is available here.
Leaders Circle (presented alphabetically)
The Leaders Circle includes the top scoring participants against the 2018 PFM Index. The Circle celebrates top performers across the qualitative as well as quantitative elements of the Index, including Strategy, Supply Chain, Consumer Engagement, and Consumption. See PFM Leaderboards for company rankings by volume.
It’s time to take bold action now, we owe this to our children, to the planet, and to the people who work in our supply chains. So let’s work together and be accountable to our progress. Let’s commit to sourcing raw materials with integrity and fairness. Let’s honour the value of people, energy, water and the soil. Let’s work together to really create positive impact in the world, because this is the task for our generation.
We only have this one world and if we don’t take care of it, who will?
– Nanda Bergstein, Tchibo
David Hobson, Nga Rua Station, New Zealand. Photo: Wools of New Zealand
111 Companies | 17 Countries | Estimated Turnover US$ 1.65 Trillion | 80 Returning Participants | 43 Founders Club | 31 New Participants
- AB Lindex
ALANA (dm-drogerie markt)
ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG
ALDI South International
ARMEDANGELS (Social Fashion Company GmbH)
Arthur and Henry
Boll & Branch
Columbia Sportswear Company
Continental® (Continental Clothing)
Cotonea (Gebr. Elmer & Zweifel)
Country Road Group
EarthPositive® (Continental Clothing)
- EILEEN FISHER, Inc.
Fair Share (Continental Clothing)
Fat Face Ltd
G-Star RAW C.V.
Helly Hansen AS
Hess Natur-Textilien GmbH
House of Fraser
Inter Ikea Group
KappAhl Sverige AB
- Kuyichi B.V.
Levi Strauss & Co.
Marks and Spencer
Mud Jeans International BV
New Balance Athletics, Inc.
Next Retail Ltd
Ramblers Way Farm, LLC
Salvage® (Continental Clothing)
Ted Baker (No Ordinary Designer Label Limited)
Teva (Deckers Brands)
The North Face
toad & co
UGG (Deckers Brands)
Under the Canopy
Washbär (Triaz GmbH)
WestPoint Home LLC
WOOLWORTHS (PTY) LTD
At Inditex, we are committed now and in the future to doing business sustainably and responsibly. As part of this, we have a clear commitment to using resources efficiently in our supply chain. The Preferred Fibers & Materials Benchmark has become a key component of this strategy enabling us to measure our progress in the use of sustainable raw materials.
– Felix Poza, Inditex
“Aunty”, Collector, India. Photo: Plastics for Change
About the Leaderboards
The PFM* Leaderboards are based on the participating companies’ self-reported consumption data**.
PFM Leaderboards include:
- Top by Volume: Companies that reported the highest consumption volumes for 2017.
- Top by Growth: Companies that reported their consumption for 2016 and 2017 and showed the highest growth rate over the two years.
- 100% Club: Companies belonging to the 100% Club have achieved the status of all relative fiber coming from the relative PFM or portfolio of PFMs.
- Race To The Top: Companies that are closing the gap between conventional and preferred fibers in their portfolio. (This ranking excludes companies that belong to the 100% Club.)
PFM Leaderboards currently cover the following PFMs and Portfolios:
- Preferred Cotton: Organic | Organic Fair Trade | Recycled | Portfolio (BCI, CmiA, FT, organic, OFT, REEL, and/or recycled)
- Preferred Polyester: Recycled
- Preferred Manmade Cellulosics: pLyocell | Portfolio (pLyocell, pModal, pViscose according to definition)
- Preferred Down: Portfolio (certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Traceable Down Standard (TDS), Downpass, and/or recycled down)
- Preferred Wool: Portfolio (organic, certified the the Responsible Wool Standard (RDS) and equivalencies, and/or recycled)
*See definitions for further details of the PFMs
**While Textile Exchange reviews all data entries, checks calculations, and carries out consistency checks, it does not verify the accuracy of the data. That responsibility remains with the participating company.
BCI | CmiA | Fair Trade | Organic | Organic Fair Trade | REEL Cotton | Recycled Cotton
* Uses either 100% organic cotton or a mix of organic and recycled cotton.
Preferred Lyocell | Preferred Modal | Preferred Viscose | Recycled Cellulose
* 100% of pMMC is lyocell
Responsible Down | Traceable Down | Downpass Certified | Recycled Down
Organic Wool | Responsible Wool | Recycled Wool
At ASOS we have analyzed the environmental footprint of the fibers we use in our garments and home textiles. We scoped out our consumption leading to the prioritization and action plan for cotton, polyester and viscose. Using the PFMB as a research tool, we have created a fiber switching framework for our retail teams to follow in order to switch to more sustainable alternatives. We have used the PFMB to benchmark our progress in relation to other retailers and brands to support our sustainability strategy, and continue to refer to it as a key resource.
– Tara Luckman, ASOS
Cotton Recycler, Spain. Photo: Recover/ Hilaturas Ferre S.A.
The PFM Benchmark dashboard provides an overview of the reported PFM consumption, portion of total consumption the PFM claim represents, and an equivalent estimated benefit based upon the PFM volume.
Uptake & Outcome Benefits
2018: 940,533 mt
2017: 622,359 mt
2016: 319,248 mt
47% Preferred Cotton
53% Conventional Cotton
1.15 million ha
Land under organic or
2018: 98,052 mt
2017: 50,139 mt
2016: 43,482 mt
8% Preferred Polyester
92% Virgin Polyester
PET bottles diverted
Preferred Manmade Cellulosics
2018: 35,273 mt
2017: 25,802 mt
2016: – no data
3.4% Preferred MMCs
96.6% Conventional Viscose
Area of sustainably
2018: 2,732 mt
2017: 1,710 mt
2016: 892 mt
94% Preferred Down
6% Conventional Down
Number of birds covered
2018: 2,772 mt
2017: – no data
2016: – no data
20% Preferred Wool
80% Conventional Wool
Organic or RWS equivalent
number of sheep
rCotton fiber upcycled into
new textile products
rWool fiber upcycled into
new textile products
We are very pleased to be ranked in the PFM leaderboards for the second year running. By participating in the PFM Benchmark, ALDI North gains valuable information on the development of our efforts towards more sustainable textile fibers, compared to the results of other relevant actors in the market. The results motivate us to gradually increase our use of more sustainable fibers and hence to achieve even better results in years to come. The PFM Benchmark also enables us to further commit to ambitious goals, e.g. to increase the use of sustainable cotton for the German market to 30% in 2018, and thus supports our shift towards a more transparent and sustainable textile value chain.
– Rayk Mende, ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG
Vallabh and Prabhaben, organic cotton farmers. Photo: Ben Langdon for C&A Foundation
Terminology & Methodologies
The PFM Index result is derived from a company’s Section 1: Strategy score plus the average score for Sections 2: Supply Chain, 3: Consumption and 4: Consumer Engagement of a company’s top three performing preferred fibers or materials (PFMs) modules. Until now, a company has had the option to complete as few or as many modules as they wish (including only a single module). Going forward, the Index will become more aligned to a company’s priority fibers, focusing on the key elements of their portfolio.
Of the 87 companies who completed the benchmark survey in 2018, 43 have completed it three years in a row. These 43 companies form the Founders Club, participating consecutively year on year.
In 2018, we introduced the Leaders Circle. This group includes the top scoring participants against the PFM Index. The aim is to celebrate top-performers across the qualitative as well as quantitative elements of the Index, including Strategy, Supply Chain, Consumer Engagement, as well as Consumption. Until now, a company has had the option to complete as few or as many modules as they wish (including only a single module). Going forward, the Index will become more aligned to a company’s priority fibers, focusing on the key elements of their portfolio.
The PFM Leaderboard rankings are based on a company’s self-reported consumption data for each fiber. Leaderboards PFM Leaderboards include: Top by Volume, Top by Growth, 100% Club, Race To The Top: Companies that are closing the gap between conventional and preferred fibers in their portfolio. (This ranking excludes companies that belong to the 100% Club.)
The Textile Exchange PFM Benchmark is based on participant self-assessment. While Textile Exchange reviews all data entries, checks calculations, and carries out consistency checks, it does not verify the accuracy of the data or disclosures within a company’s survey submission, or the process of preparing the disclosures. That responsibility remains with the participating company.
Certified organic land area (hectares) is based on data from Textile Exchange’s data collection program. Land under BCI, CmiA, and Fair Trade production is estimated based on data provided by each initiative.
Bottles diverted from landfill:
Estimates of the number of PET bottles (recycled into polyester) are based on conversion factors shared by certification bodies.
Land under certified forestry:
Calculations are based on Lenzing, 2010, LCA of MMC fibers. Consumption of pViscose, pLyocell and pModal is calculated back to land use based on assumptions in the study. Then aggregated on total land basis, irrespective of origin.
Birds covered by down standards:
Geese and duck number estimations are based on conversions shared by key suppliers and J. Kozák, 2011, An Overview of Feathers Formation, Moults and Down Production in Geese.
Sheep covered by wool standards:
Sheep number estimates are based on conversions shared by key industry stakeholders, and the consultation and validation of these figures with multiple wool stakeholders.
Textile waste upcycled into new products:
rCotton and rWool
PFM Portfolio of Options
The preferred Cotton (pCotton) portfolio offers the largest number of options, including Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), CottonConnect’s REEL Cotton (REEL), Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Fair Trade Cotton (FT), Organic Cotton (OC), and Recycled Cotton (rCotton).
The preferred Polyester portfolio currently includes Recycled Polyester (rPET) as the only PFM option. Recycled Polyester (rPET) uses mainly post-consumer plastic (PET) bottles and packaging, or pre/post-consumer textile waste as the raw material. rPET can be either mechanically or chemically recycled into filament or staple fiber. The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and SCS Recycled Content (RC) Standard) are Chain of Custody standards to track recycled polyesters through the supply chain. The GRS, in addition, requires social and environmental criteria to be met during the processing stages.
The definition of a preferred Manmade Cellulosic (pMMC) is evolving. For the purpose of the Benchmark a pMMC will have the following attributes:
All feedstocks must be low risk of being sourced from ancient and endangered forests as verified by publicly available CanopyStyle Audits, and certified to a forest sustainability standard (e.g. FSC). The goal is that all sources of feedstock maximize FSC-certified pulp to validate sustainable forest practices. Where LCA’s confirm lower impact, waste inputs are preferred such as left-over straw and recycled cotton inputs.
pMMCs must be produced according to Best Available Technologies in regards to water, energy, chemicals, waste, etc. Standards include EU Ecolabel and OEKO-TEX STeP.
Companies should be mapping suppliers, and implementing a traceability management system. The CanopyStyle Audits create traceability from forest to pMMC producer. Some suppliers offer traceability through their own systems.
There is demonstrated environmental impact savings of the pMMC fiber compared with generic viscose, validated via an independent intermediary such as the Higg MSI or Life Cycle Assessments validated by a non-interested party.
Preferred lyocell is best in class, made in a closed-loop system that recycles the majority of the solvent used. Technologies for chemically recycling cellulose materials are increasingly providing opportunities to replace virgin inputs, and will be considered in this program in the future.
The preferred Down (pDown) portfolio currently incorporates products certified to either the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Traceable Down Standard (TDS), Downpass, or an organic standard e.g. Organic Content Standard (OCS) or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Among other animal welfare criteria, pDown excludes feathers/down from birds that have been live plucked or force-fed. The portfolio of pDown options also includes recycled down (e.g. certified to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Content Standard (RCS), SCS Recycled Content (RC) Standard).
The preferred Wool (pWool) portfolio includes wool that is grown with a progressive approach to land management, and animal welfare. The portfolio of options includes wool produced to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) or its equivalencies, organic e.g. Organic Content Standard (OCS) or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and recycled wool e.g. certified to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Content Standard (RCS), SCS Recycled Content (RC) Standard.
Multi-Sector/Apparel (Extra Large)
Description: Extra large apparel and multi-sector companies and retailers. Submissions from holding companies are also included in this sub-sector.
Product categories: Fashion, family, baby, basics, intimates, workwear/uniforms and home textiles.
Description: Large and mid-size companies and retailers of mainly apparel.
Product categories: Designer, luxury, fashion, family, baby, basics, and intimates.
Description: Small to mid-size companies and retailers of mainly apparel. Also includes submissions based on “product line” (even if the company size would place them in Large or Extra Large.
Product categories: Designer, fashion, family, baby, basics, intimates and workwear/uniforms.
Description: Companies and retailers, all sizes, of outdoor, sportswear, and footwear.
Product categories: Mountain, active and performance sports, yoga, lifestyle, and footwear.
Description: Companies and retailers, all sizes, of exclusively or predominantly home textiles. Catering and hospitality companies are also included in this sub-sector.
Product categories: Dining (table cloths, napkins), bed and bath, and indoor or outdoor soft furnishing.
The review team, including a steering committee chaired by C&A Global will deliver the review over the next six months for release of the 2019 PFMB survey at the beginning of May. A full stakeholder consultation will be integral to the review and to ensuring that the program remains business led. For more information, contact Liesl Truscott at Liesl@TextileExchange.org
2018 – PFMB Insights Report (pdf)
2018 – Sector & Sub-Sector Feedback Report (pdf)
2018 – Sample Company Feedback Report (pdf)
2017 – PFMB Insights Report and Key Insights (pdf)
2016 – PFMB Sector Report (pdf)
2015 – PFMB Pilot Report (pdf)
About the Benchmark (pdf)
Coming soon for 2019:
Getting Started Video Series (new)
Guidance Notes (updated)
Technical Notes (updated)
HOW THE BENCHMARK ALIGNS WITH THE SDGs
The PFM Benchmark provides an important entry point to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Individual companies can compare progress made against their sub-sector peers and the entire group of participants. On an aggregate level, progress against SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production can be tracked. SDG 12 is the gateway to many of the other SDGs, as illustrated in the diagram below.
The PFM Benchmark SDG questions have been mapped against the UN Global Compact question set to increase efficiencies for participants and to build consistency across measurement tools. New opportunities are being explored for the 2019 survey.
The PFM Benchmark Interacts with the Sustainable Development Goals
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
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 your business, and the tools your 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 your preferred fibers and materials. This section looks at voluntary standards, supply chain transparency, and investment.
The Consumption section quantifies the volumes of preferred fibers and materials used by your 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 your preferred fibers and materials are entering. It covers B2C factors such as product differentiation, customer communication, and company 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.
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
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
The PFM Benchmark is managed through a portal called “Probench” developed by our software partners, 73Bit Ltd.
This Program is kindly sponsored by: