Sustainability progress in the fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year, new data reveals

Sustainability progress in the fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year, new data reveals

May 13, 2019
Press Release: Global Fashion Agenda

The fashion industry is facing a rapidly growing demand worldwide and at the same time many companies are stepping up their work toward more environmentally and socially responsible practices. But is it enough? Not according to the latest Pulse of the Fashion Industry report

The Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) have together released the 2019 update of Pulse of the Fashion Industry, an annual assessment of the fashion industry’s environmental and social performance in terms of the Pulse Score.

The 2019 update reveals that the pace of sustainability progress in the fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year and is not moving fast enough to counterbalance the harmful impact of the fashion industry’s rapid growth. Unless the current trend of the Pulse Score improves, fashion will continue to be a net contributor to climate change, increasing the risk that the Paris Agreement’s objective of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius during the remainder of this century will not be achieved.

The Pulse Score increased by four points in 2019, from 38 to 42 (out of 100). In 2018, it increased by six points, so the speed of measurable progress in the past year has decreased by a third.

As detailed in the 2019 findings, the pace of positive change does not match the projected growth of the fashion industry. Projections suggest that by 2030 the global apparel and footwear industry will have grown by 81%, to 102 million tons, exerting an unprecedented strain on planetary resources. If the industry’s Pulse Score – a metric of sustainability – remains on its current trajectory, the gap between industry output and Pulse Score will continue to widen, and the harmful consequences of increased production will become even more challenging to overcome.

“These latest findings emphasize the dire need for the whole industry to join the race and accelerate change now,” said Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer at Global Fashion Agenda. “Scaling existing solutions will depend on leadership from brands. However, some transformational changes will take cooperation among policy makers and stakeholders across the entire value chain.”

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