GS1 Aims for Better Sustainable Practices in Material Sourcing

GS1 is looking to create greater transparency for consumers in where the material comes from in their apparel by urging partners to follow its guidelines.

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GS1 US has published the “Best Practice Guideline for Exchanging Raw Material Attributes,” created by apparel and general merchandise leaders to help industry utilize standards in their upstream supply chain practices. By leveraging GS1 Standards to efficiently share information about product components in an effort to speed up raw material sourcing decisions, industry can better support sustainability initiatives and enhance transparency for consumers. The guideline addresses retail industry challenges associated with the time-consuming process of mapping raw material data attributes from multiple sources.

Developed by members of the GS1 US Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative, the guideline offers a common vocabulary that defines attributes in four primary material types—knit fabric, woven fabric, leather and synthetic material. It also helps supply chain partners categorize like-kind materials using a common set of definitions which will contribute to streamlined sourcing decisions, clearer purchasing specifications and reduced time to market.

In addition to enabling transparency in product sourcing, these efficiencies can also support platforms that promote a circular economy and lead to enhanced sustainability in the retail supply chain. When items are identified consistently and that identification remains linked to the item, goods become reusable and repairable long after the time of first purchase, prolonging the life cycle and reducing waste.

“As more retail companies are focused on improving sustainability and transparency, the consistent identification of raw materials is an important step toward achieving those goals,” said Angela Fernandez, vice president of community engagement, GS1 US. “This industry guidance provides how to define, compare and communicate raw material data across retail operations, which can help partners share higher quality data while reducing product development cycle times.”