Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has received a $10,000 grant from the Portland Development Commission (PDC) that will allow OIA to finalize the development of the association's Outdoor Product Environmental Leadership Standard (OPELS) project, a family of environmental leadership standards for outdoor products scheduled to debut in August 2010.
OIA has also announced plans to develop a companion tool focusing on fair labor practices and recently opened collaboration with the European Outdoor Group to ensure global adoption of the index.
OIA will hold a panel discussion Jan. 22 at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010 featuring product designers from major brands discussing the practical use and business case related to the adoption of the Packaging and Material Guidelines. The panel is a primer for designers on adopting the initial pieces of the index that will prepare companies to adopt the Phase 1 Index next year.
The OIA Eco Working Group, formed by OIA in 2007 to explore the issues of environmental sustainability as related to the outdoor industry, was instrumental in establishing the OPELS project, which will lead to the industry's first environmental assessment tool or “Eco Index.” The OIA Eco Working Group consists of more than 125 individuals from more than 80 outdoor businesses collaborating to develop the index, which aims to contain environmental guidelines, environmental performance metrics and a comparative scoring system. PDC provided a grant of $30,000 in November 2008 to initiate the project.
“PDC is committed to providing a strong foundation for the outdoor industry's first Eco Index, as a strategic initiative in building the region’s leadership and competitiveness in the outdoor industry,” said Bruce Warner, executive director of PDC.
“The Portland Development Commission has been an exemplary partner to our industry and its members,” commented Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association. “The PDC's support of this project is instrumental in the final product and its long-term benefits for our businesses and ultimately, our consumers.”
The PDC funding has enabled OIA to use Portland-based Zero Waste Alliance as the working group's project manager for the development of the index. Upon completion of the draft Eco Index, OIA will set a public comment period to collect additional stakeholder input.
“Portland is making a name for itself by being one of the greenest cities in America. The grant money PDC has earmarked for the OIA Eco Working Group provides a timely infusion to an effort that will likely have global implications and will reflect well on Portland, “added Jill Dumain, chair of the OIA Sustainability and Fair Labor Advisory Council and director of environmental analysis for Patagonia.
“We’ve worked with the outdoor industry for several years to identify the areas where PDC can be most supportive and are very pleased to provide funding to complete the creation of the OIA Eco Index. This grant responds to the industry’s desire to more clearly define ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ and leverages the efforts of several Portland companies committed to environmental responsibility, notably Columbia Sportswear, Keen and Nau,” added Jennifer Nolfi, PDC’s liaison to the outdoor industry.
Stakeholders interested in participating in the completion of the Eco Index are encouraged to contact Amy Roberts, OIA vice president, government affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.327.3511 for more information.