Kiwi company Icebreaker, which now has its headquarters and design studio located in Portland, Oregon, has been selected to test the next phase of the Eco Index, an innovative online tool to benchmark and measure the environmental impact of apparel, footwear and gear products. Four other Portland-area brands will also test the index.
The index has been in development since 2007 by member companies of Colorado.-based trade group Outdoor Industry Association. It uses environmental guidelines, environmental performance indicators and environmental footprint metrics to assess the impacts within six product life cycle stages: Materials, packaging, product manufacturing and assembly, transport and distribution, use and service, and end of life.
Icebreaker is no stranger to showcasing its eco credentials. In 2008 it launched its aptly named Baacode tracebility system for merino wool. By typing in a barcode, customers can bare witness to the “living conditions of the sheep, meet the high country farmers who run the sheep stations, and follow the production process that turns premium merino fibre into Icebreaker's exceptional, performance-driven garments”.
Lisa Thompson, president of Icebreaker’s US operations, said the index provides the “perfect extension” to the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility and transparency already shown by its Baacode programme.
“We know we have lots to learn and we hope this tool can guide us on our journey to become one of the cleanest clothing companies in the world."
In the project's next phase, Icebreaker and the four other brands will put the next version of the Eco Index, called the ‘Apparel Tool’, to the test in an actual work environment for the first time. The new Apparel Tool, which has been developed jointly by the OIA Eco Working Group and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, uses the Eco Index framework and content as its foundation, while also incorporating Nike's Materials Assessment Tool - providing the functionality for product designers and developers to begin making data-driven materials sourcing choices to reduce environmental impact. Additional index modules for footwear and equipment are also under development.