A Critical Evaluation of Social and Eco-Labels Used in the Textile Industry: Their Possible Impact Demonstrated Through Environmental and Social LCA
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AbstractThis thesis evaluated and compared social criteria of ecological (eco) and social labels used in the textile and apparel industry. Information about relevant end consumer facing labels was collected through standardsmap.org and ecolabelindex.com. Social criteria were evaluated by the topics and stakeholder groups covered, and by the specificity of the requirements. To assess the potential positive impacts of the social criteria a social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) was conducted. The baseline assessment was done for conventional cotton blouses produced in India and sold and used in the USA. A second comparative S-LCA was applied to cotton blouses with a social label. The impact assessment was carried out in SimaPro with the Social Hotspots Database (SHDB) and the Social LCIA method 2 V2.00.
An environmental life cycle assessment (E-LCA) was also conducted to measure differences between eco-labeled and conventional apparel. Impact assessment was carried out with the ReCiPe (H) methodology as international data was used. This was done in OpenLCA with the ecoinvent database. Data collection for the life cycle inventory was mainly carried out through literature review and former LCA studies. Input and output adjustments to the comparative E-LCA were made based on the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label requirements. This included, among other requirements, that certain chemicals prohibited by GOTS were not used in the cotton cultivation and textile production.
During research the focus shifted from environmental to social issues and opportunities because there were already several rankings of eco-labels available on different websites. Furthermore, if workers or any other stakeholder cannot meet their basic needs they are most likely not able or willing to consider environmental impacts. Hence this thesis is an attempt to recommend textile labels that improve stakeholders’ livelihoods. Some additional label criteria were proposed to further strengthen the label. This research also wants to encourage end consumers to support such social developments through purchase of eco and socially (sustainably) labeled products, specifically garments. Sustainable products might be more expensive but if the positive impacts are better managed and communicated, this may encourage consumers to demand more of these products.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:37945104