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Google and WWF partner to bring sustainability to fashion industry

WWF and Google have partnered to bring to life a fashion sustainability platform that is designed to aid responsible sourcing decisions in the fashion industry.

The environmental data platform is a collaborative endeavour and targets shared and new customers working in fashion. According to the companies, businesses in this sector are considering sustainability more than ever.

At present, the industry today accounts for 20% of wastewater and 2-8% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, potentially rising by as much as 50% by 2030.

Furthermore, much of this impact occurs at the raw materials stage in the production process, where supply chains can be highly fragmented, and gathering and assessing data at scale is a challenge.

The partnership addresses these issues, providing a platform that can be used on a standalone basis or as a complement to existing efforts.

At the 2019 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Google Cloud announced a pilot in collaboration with Stella McCartney to use Google Cloud technology to provide a more comprehensive view into raw materials of clothing manufacturers’ supply chains.

According to Google, the work with Stella McCartney is still ongoing and has been pivotal in shaping the concept of the platform and will continue to be the first fashion brand to test new features and functionality.

WWF Sweden and long-term partner IKEA created a similar tool in 2018, focused on analysing the risk and impact of various textiles raw materials.

Now, under the new partnership, Google and WWF Sweden will collaborate on an updated platform leveraging all of these data types, aiming to further increase the accuracy and relevance of raw materials assessments.

The new platform will also move beyond cotton and viscose as first announced, to include additional raw materials based on WWF data and knowledge.

In addition to Stella McCartney and IKEA, WWF and Google are also in consultation with a large number of other fashion, luxury, denim, and athletic brands and retailers.

Google UK/IE head of customer engineering, Retail, Ian Pattison says, "It's our ambition to create a data-enriched decision-making platform that enables analysis of the supply chain in a way that has not been possible before at this scale.

"Partnering with WWF brings together Google Cloud’s technical capacity, including big-data analysis and machine learning, and WWF’s deep knowledge of assessing raw materials.

"Together, we can make supply chain data visible and accessible to decision makers, and drive more responsible and sustainable decisions."

Google sustainability officer Kate Brandt says, “Sustainability is a challenge that crosses industry boundaries, and we firmly believe that solutions require strong partnerships and collaboration.

“Our ambition is to fill fundamental data gaps by bringing greater accuracy to environmental reporting - ultimately moving toward more sustainable processes. By combining our technology, and with data inputs from many key industry brands and retailers, we believe we can significantly magnify this work together.”

WWF Sweden CEO Hkan Wirtn says, "WWF’s partnership work with companies has always been motivated by the need to drive real transformation at the largest possible scale.

“This project is an excellent example of how we can take valuable work with a long term partner like IKEA, collaborate with another strong WWF partner like Google to make that work even more powerful, and make it open source so that hopefully it can help with the transformation of a whole industry.”