New Google data model to tackle fashion industry waste

three-3075752_1920Google is beefing up its environmental credentials in a joint venture with WWF with the launch of a new data platform for sourcing professionals in the fashion industry, which details the pollution and emissions impact of their business decisions.

The new tool uses Google’s cloud, machine learning and big data analysis technologies to track the environmental impact of the sector’s most commonly-used materials – including cotton and viscose – at all stages in the supply chain.

WWF, meanwhile, has said it will provide its “deep knowledge” of the environmental impacts of textile supply chains in context, and of the most common routes and processes for the supply chains for the materials.

The ultimate aim is to provide data that will enable fashion companies to factor in the true impact of their supply chains.

The partnership builds on Google’s ongoing work with the fashion brand owned by Stella McCartney, which has seen the launch of a cloud-based tool tracking raw materials in clothing manufacturers’ supply chains.

Google said it is currently in consultation with “a large number of other fashion, luxury, denim and athletic brands and retailers” in a bid to collect more data for the tool, and to expand its use across the fashion sector.

Google chief sustainability officer Kate Brandt said: “Sustainability is a challenge that crosses industry boundaries, and we firmly believe that solutions require strong partnerships and collaboration.

“Our ambition is to fill fundamental data gaps by bringing greater accuracy to environmental reporting—ultimately moving toward more sustainable processes. By combining our technology, and with data inputs from many key industry brands and retailers, we believe we can significantly magnify this work together.”

The global fashion sector produces up to 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, and could potentially emit 50% more by 2030. It also accounts for one-fifth of wastewater generation on a global annual basis and is regarded as the world’s second-largest polluter of water.

Not that Google is exactly saving the planet. The tech giant emitted just over 15 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2018, although it claimed that all of its emissions were neutralised by carbon offset projects.

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