The group working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear production around the world has added Swiss-based specialty chemicals company Clariant as one of its members.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition was formed by apparel and footwear brands, retailers and manufacturers including Adidas, Arvind Mills, Li & Fung, H&M Hennes & Mauritz and Wal-Mart, along with non-governmental organisations, academic experts and governmental agencies.

Its first project has been to create a universal Sustainability Index, setting a standard for apparel manufacturing that takes energy usage, fair labour practices, waste removal methods and water quality into account.

Designed as a business-to-business tool for internal decision-making, the Index will include supply chain-specific data to deliver a product footprint score. All of the members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition have agreed to support the collection of this data and make a commitment to developing more sustainable practices.

The results of the Index will be a resource for product designers, technical development teams, material suppliers, manufacturers and retail buyers. Currently in beta testing stage, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition expects to launch the Index for public use later this year.

Clariant supplies chemical solutions for the textile industry, and says membership of the SAC will provide it with a platform to actively contribute to the development of sustainable best practices in the textile industry.