What environmental impact do my clothes have? It’s a question you may have asked yourself from time to time.
Imagine: you’re walking out of the store, new t-shirt in hand... You wonder, “How environmentally friendly are the products I just bought? Should I have bought the t-shirt made from recycled or organic cotton?”
This, in a nutshell, is the question that a Life Cycle Assessment tries to answer. An LCA measures the environmental impact of a product through every phase of its life – from production to waste (or recycling, etc.).¹ This data can be used to compare the environmental footprint of one product or material with another.
What is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a scientific method used to measure the environmental footprint of a product. The result is a measurement of over 15 impact categories.
An LCA is far from simple – there are countless factors involved as you evaluate the potential environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of a product. This also includes the upstream (e.g., suppliers) and downstream (e.g., waste management) processes associated with the production, use phase, and disposal. It covers all relevant inputs from the environment (e.g., crude oil, water, land use) as well as emissions into air, water and soil.
How does Recover™ measure its impact?
We have conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Recover’s fiber products. This is a so called 'cradle to gate' LCA because it focuses on only the material stage of the full lifecycle of the final product, which can be a garment or another textile product. The methodology and data collection are executed in accordance with the “PEF Methodology” version 3.0 based on ISO 14040 and ISO 14044.
To calculate the LCAs of Recover’s products across multiple production facilities, we work with the Ecochain Helix foot-printing tool, supported by the Ecochain expert team.
Before we can publicly communicate any of the LCA results, Ecochain creates an LCA report which we then submit for a third-party review. It is only after approval from a third-party reviewer, that we are able to share the data publicly.
How does Recover™ calculate its impact savings?
The goal of an LCA is not only to measure and improve, but also to support our customers and final consumers to make informed decisions when they buy our products. To communicate the environmental advantages of Recover’s products efficiently and appealingly, without sacrificing legitimacy and integrity, we take great care in calculating savings. To do this, we compare the impacts of our recycled products to the environmental impacts of virgin conventional cotton.
This is easier said than done, because the available reference data on the environmental impact of traditionally produced cotton fibers has a large variability. Due to this complexity, we commissioned a study to better understand which impact categories we should focus on, how to ensure we are comparing correctly (apples with apples), and which reference data to use.