The apparel industry has seen a proliferation of companies setting and committing to science-based targets (SBTs) in recent years. Currently, over 100 companies have approved SBTs or commitments to set them – up from a dozen just three years ago. Given this momentum, identifying how companies and the sector will deliver on these ambitious targets is imperative. Determining the “how” is the central objective of the Roadmap.

Using data from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Textile Exchange, this report estimated apparel sector emissions to be 1.025 gigatons CO2e in 2019. Unchecked, emissions will grow to 1.588 gigatons by 2030 – off pace to deliver the 45% absolute reduction required to limit warming to 1.5°C. This report identifies six interventions to deliver roughly three quarters of reductions to align with a 1.5°C scenario: maximizing material efficiency, scaling sustainable materials and practices, accelerating the development of innovative materials, proliferating energy efficiency, eliminating coal in manufacturing, and shifting to 100% renewable electricity.

To close the gap, the industry will need to transition to circular business models and practices. While data on GHG benefits of circularity are sparse, there is a significant opportunity to reduce impact by moving away from today’s linear model (take, make, waste).

Key Findings

We identified six interventions for the sector to significantly reduce emissions:

1) Maximizing material efficiency:

Through design, material selection, and methods of manufacturing, increase the percentage of raw materials used in components and products.

2) Scaling sustainable materials and practices:

Increase the use of more sustainable materials (e.g. recycled polyester) and practices (e.g. conservation tillage for cotton).

3) Accelerating the development of innovative materials:

Ramp up investment in “next generation” preferred materials including textile recycling, bio-based materials, and plant-based leather.

4) Proliferating energy efficiency:

Expand energy efficiency efforts across manufacturing facilities.

5) Eliminating coal in manufacturing:

Replace coal as an energy source for materials and product manufacturing.

6) Shifting to 100% renewable electricity:

Deploy renewable energy across the supply chain.

Executive Summary

When WRI initiated work on the Apparel and Footwear Sector Science Based Targets Guidance in late 2017, there were roughly a dozen apparel and footwear companies that had joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi); by May 2021, over 100 such companies had joined. During this time, the list of companies has diversified to include brands, retailers, and manufacturers of all sizes and geographic locations.

The Guidance provided a blueprint for apparel companies to set SBTs, summarized the SBTi criteria, and offered sector-specific context and examples. The goals of the Roadmap are to provide direction for how companies and the sector can deliver on these ambitious targets and focus the sector’s collective attention on the most impactful interventions for reducing emissions 45% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.