Author: Tobias Schultz
This is the first blog post in a series focused on the groundbreaking Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study completed by SCS on behalf of Stella McCartney in October 2017. Download the full report, and click here to watch a webinar on the topic.
Leading apparel companies are keenly interested in identifying environmentally preferable fibers for use in the manufacture of clothing. One type of fiber about which little environmental performance information has been available is viscose fiber (also known as Rayon), a type of manmade cellulose fiber (MMCF). Furthermore, the limited analyses that have been conducted to date have not factored in critical areas of impact, such as the negative effects on ecosystems resulting from the harvesting of wood used to produce the dissolving pulp used to produce the fibers.
To fill this knowledge gap with accurate, credible information, the leading luxury designer Stella McCartney commissioned SCS to develop a groundbreaking Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparing the environmental performance of ten different raw material sources of MMCF. In this study, conventional viscose produced from wood was compared with innovative new technologies such as flax-based fiber substitutes. The study broke new ground by including an evaluation of impacts on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in the forests and farms of origin.
Both in its breadth and depth, this LCA provides an unprecedented analysis of the distinct impacts of different MMMCF sources. Some key learnings from the study include:
In completing the study, we applied the latest science and data, conforming to the internationally recognized ISO 14040 and 14044 LCA standards, the draft national standard for LCA (LEO-SCS-002) being developed under the ANSI process, and the Roundwood Product Category Rule (PCR). The report was then peer-reviewed by representatives from Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, and the influential environmental not-for-profit organization, Canopy. This level of scrutiny ensured that the report’s findings are robust and reliable.
The study is a great resource for the entire apparel industry as it provides insights into the wide range of impacts that a brand’s or supplier’s choice of MMCF fiber source can have, including impacts on species, forest ecosystems, freshwater, global climate and human health.
In the coming weeks, I will be writing more about the details of this LCA, highlighting and describing the most important features of the research, including:
Stay tuned for future blog posts, and click here to watch our webinar.
Tobias Schultz is Director of Research & Development at SCS Global Services, and an experienced LCA practitioner. Mr. Schultz headed up the certification team for this LCA study. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling +1.510.452.6389.