Two new supply chain tools have been launched by the Outdoor Industry Association's Sustainability Working Group (OIA SWG) to help companies proactively manage their supply chain and sourcing practices.

The first is the Rapid Design Module for Equipment. Modelled on the existing Higg Index Rapid Design Module Prototype for Footwear and Apparel, it adds product-level environmental indicators specific to hardgoods and accessories.

The tool provides guidance to product designers around the potential environmental impacts of decisions during the product creation process, and is currently being piloted by OIA SWG members.

The second development is the Social Responsibility Toolkit: Phase 2, which identifies 14 essential elements that make up a robust social responsibility programme. It will also serve as an industry reference point around how to implement each of the elements, the group says. 

The toolkit was developed with the input of dozens of outdoor industry companies, and can be adapted to enable any company or supplier to create and continuously improve their social responsibility programme. Its ultimate goal is to help improve working conditions and labour rights across outdoor industry supply chains.

Looking at the next stage, Beth Jensen, director of corporate responsibility at OIA, says: "We now shift our collaborative efforts from tool development to adoption and execution, toward industry-wide implementation of best practices." 

The Social Responsibility Working Group is one of the issue-specific working groups under the umbrella of the OIA Sustainability Working Group, which formed in 2007 to explore issues of corporate responsibility in the outdoor industry.

The group has already developed a number of tools and resources to help companies benchmark and measure their environmental and social footprints, identify areas for improvement, and make informed sourcing and product life cycle decisions.

Past initiatives include the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) to ensure the accurate labelling of recycled content in materials; and the Organic Content Standard (OCS) to help companies track and verify certified organically grown raw materials through the supply chain.

It also created the first global Eco Index for apparel, footwear and equipment, which forms the basis of the Apparel Tool being developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a group of 35 global brands, retailers, and other stakeholders working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products worldwide.