The Material Change Index (MCI) is a voluntary benchmark that tracks the apparel and textiles sector’s progress toward more sustainable materials sourcing, as well as alignment with global efforts like the Sustainable Development Goals and the transition to a circular economy. As one of a few voluntary benchmarks, the MCI is based on companies’ willingness to be transparent and disclose their materials uptake and management practices.
Our methodology is continually refined through consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including our participating companies.Our program and processes are externally assured by BSD Consulting in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, bringing increased credibility and confidence in the results as the program grows in size and importance.
The Benchmark survey framework follows a systematic approach to integrating preferred fibers and materials into business strategy. It is divided into three key areas:
- Strategy and Integration — establishing corporate commitment and intent.
- Materials Portfolio — target setting, progress tracking and measuring impact.
- Circularity — reducing and shifting consumption from virgin resources to reclaimed.
Companies follow a self-assessment process intended to help identify the strengths and gaps where future progress can be made. All company submissions are reviewed by Textile Exchange’s expert team for completeness, accuracy and consistency of data, and our process is externally assured by BSD Consulting in line with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines.
Companies then receive a confidential scorecard of their results and a position in the Material Change Index, enabling them to compare progress with peers and to transparently communicate performance and progress to stakeholders. By comparing their own year-on-year scores, as well as their scores against those achieved by the whole sector, companies can plan improvement efforts and prioritize action areas.
Participants tell us that the process of completing the benchmark paired with the company scorecard is a highly effective mechanism for engaging leadership and raising awareness internally.
Publicly reported indices also encourage healthy company competition that accelerates required change and drives a race-to-the top.
Participants select their portfolio composition based on which materials are most used in their supply chain. The benchmark includes modules for cotton, down, leather, wool, manmade cellulosics, polyester, and nylon. There is also the opportunity to report additional materials important to a company (such as cashmere and rubber), through a generic materials module.
Companies have the option to participate in the benchmark at different levels, with full participation earning eligibility for the overarching Material Change Leaderboard.
- Full assessment. Companies completing the full survey receive a placement in the Materials Change Leaderboard, Material Circularity Index and Material SDG Index , as well as placements for each Materials module completed.
- Partial assessment. Companies completing one or more Materials modules receive index placements for each module completed.
- Uptake tracking. Companies reporting on their uptake targets and volumes are listed as participants in the Material Change Index for all reported materials.
To reaffirm our commitment to good data and strong processes, we engaged BSD Consulting to externally assure our process in 2019. Textile Exchange reviews all survey submissions, checks calculations and carries out consistency checks year-on-year, but we do not verify the accuracy of the data. That responsibility remains with the participating company. Click here to view our disclaimer.
A portfolio approach to preferred materials
Some of the biggest sustainability impacts and “hotspots” of textile production occur in the growing and extracting of raw materials.
The Material Change Index celebrates companies that have taken a “portfolio approach” that involves building a suite of preferred fibers and materials, from a choice of preferred options, through the consideration of impacts and organizational priorities.
Textile Exchange defines a preferred fiber or material as one which results in improved environmental and/or social sustainability outcomes and impacts in comparison to conventional production. Taking a portfolio approach means recognizing that there might not be one single fiber, material or program that meets all requirements or business needs, and that a company’s selection might change over time. It can be achieved by:
- Building a suite or mix of preferred fibers and materials, based on the consideration of impacts and organizational priorities.
- Embedding a strategy that leads to preferred options replacing unsustainable or less sustainable options over time — including target setting to align commercial and sustainability teams and drive progress.
- Having a commitment to integrity and the principles of continuous improvement, thus ensuring the options selected result in a positive impact.
Textile Exchange recognizes that “one size does not fit all” and allows participants to build their own portfolio based on the fiber and materials options and programs their company is implementing. The master list of preferred fibers and materials evolves over time as sustainability innovations prove themselves. Textile Exchange consults widely with its members and NGO partners to ensure the categories are always reflective of the latest thinking.
See our Survey Guide for more information on terminology and definitions.