STeP by OEKO-TEX® introduces Carbon and Water Footprint Tool

Facilities will soon be able to measure and report their carbon emissions and water usage impact –
at the facility level, by processing step or for 1kg of material.

As part of its Roadmap to Excellence, the STeP by OEKO-TEX ® programme has developed a
simple, user-friendly digital Carbon and Water Footprint Tool for facilities.

Participation is voluntary and will be available to any textile production facility applying for or already holding a STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification.

The Carbon and Water Footprint Tool will be launched beginning 2022.

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STeP by OEKO-TEX® evolves constantly to meet industry challenges!

Consumers and brands alike are increasingly selecting products and companies that demonstrate climate action and commitments. In response, over 100 fashion brands have signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, committing to reducing GHG emissions 30% by 2030. In addition to carbon emissions, water risk is growing, and the apparel sector is underperforming in measurement and monitoring its water impacts (according to a CDP industry comparison report). 

Understanding and reporting carbon emissions and water usage across various production stages will likely be a standard requirement of every textile-related business in the future.

The complexity and differences across global value chains and production processes in the textile industries make the task of gathering robust environmental data very challenging.

OEKO-TEX® is launching a Carbon and Water Footprint Tool to provide production facilities an initial estimate and assessment on the materials and process steps that contribute most to their overall environmental impact.

  1. Understand – production-related carbon emissions and water usage at factory, process step, and per kg of product levels
  2. Identify – which processes have highest environmental impacts
  3. Act – to reduce carbon and water usage in the future
  4. Report – results and reduction measures to customers

What is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a framework used to analyze of the potential environmental impacts of products or services during their entire life cycle; it covers five stages:  raw material extraction, manufacturing & processing, transportation, usage & retail, and waste disposal. Many LCA standards have been developed typically based on the ISO 14’040 and 14’044 standards.

There are different types of LCAs:

  • Product LCAs assess the environmental impacts of a single product throughout its value chain
  • Comparative LCAs compare the impacts of identical functional units of products, for example, comparing the LCA of a T-Shirt made of cotton vs. viscose.
  • Corporate LCA often defined as Corporate Footprint assess an organization’s entire footprint, including employee transportation and focuses generally only on the carbon footprint not the water footprint.

What methodology is used in the Carbon and Water Footprint Tool?

OEKO-TEX® with its partner Quantis, a leading sustainability consultancy, chose the Screening Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach to develop the tool. A Screening LCA is easier, faster and less expensive than a full LCA – and it provides sufficient initial and credible insight into where a facility’s biggest carbon emissions and water impacts occur across its processing steps and for the types of fibres used.

Our tool methodology required a customized approach to calculate carbon emissions and water footprints addressing the specific needs and processes of textile production facilities. We applied elements from the Product LCA to measure the impacts at the material output level, and the Corporate LCA to measure the impacts at the overall facility level. 

We incorporated recognized international databases and recommended standards:

  • The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol recommends the IPCC 2013 100a approach for calculating carbon emissions (Co2-eq).
  • The EU Commission recommends the AWARE methodology to measure the water impacts (m3).

Once a facility has input its data into the tool, the totals are allocated across the production processes and multiplied by relevant data from ecoinvent v.3.5 and the World Apparel and Footwear Database (WALDB) databases. The WALDB is internationally recognized and developed by Quantis in collaboration with many textile companies.

Download the Carbon and Water Footprint flyer to view more details.