The stakeholder review period for the Outdoor Industry Eco Index is now underway, providing companies with the opportunity to test the current “Beta Phase 1” version of the product-level environmental assessment tool and provide feedback toward the formal version scheduled for release in early 2011. 

The Eco Index is a collaboration between Outdoor Industry Assocation (OIA) and the European Outdoor Group (EOG). Over 80 companies from around the world are currently signed up to participate in the Eco Index Pilot Program, and more are welcomed.  Organizations with member companies involved in the pilot include the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industries (WFSGI), the Hong Kong-based Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium (SFBC), and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA.) 

Companies can participate in the Eco Index Pilot Program in the following ways: practicing application of the Eco Index using a generic bill of materials (BOM); applying the Eco Index to a company’s products/facilities; and/or conducting a “desktop review” of the overall Eco Index content and structure (reviewing the supporting documentation and tools and providing feedback.) 

“The apparel, footwear and gear industries are diverse in product type as well as in the varying levels of knowledge and resources available to companies.  The Eco Index was designed with this dynamic in mind, using a modular structure to help ensure usability throughout the industry.” said Beth Jensen, Corporate Responsibility Manager for OIA.  “We are looking to the pilot program for critical feedback on the success of this approach from those who will actually be implementing the Eco Index.”  

The stakeholder engagement period, scheduled to be open through December 2010, will also include a third-party review of the Index conducted by a group of environmental advocacy organizations, investors, and the academic community.  The review is being facilitated by Boston-based Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups that works with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges.   

Getting started with the Eco Index

If your company is interested in participating in the Eco Index Pilot Program, the process is as follows:

• E-mail Beth Jensen at Outdoor Industry Association with contact name, email address, company name and the types of product(s) you intend to pilot.  

• Visit and review the Eco Index Guidelines, Indicators and Metrics.  

• Download the Indicator Scoring Tool spreadsheet and gather the appropriate BOM’s to be used in the pilot (either by downloading the generic version or appropriating BOM’s for your own products.)
A number of feedback forums are available on the website to post questions and provide input during the process, and a survey will be posted shortly as another method by which piloters may submit feedback. All comments will be collected, aggregated and rolled into the formal Eco Index prior to its launch (scheduled early 2011.) 

About the OIA Eco Index

The OIA Eco Index is a product-level tool designed to help companies benchmark and measure their environmental footprint, allowing them to identify areas for improvement and make informed sourcing and product life cycle decisions.  In development since 2007 by the Eco Working Group, a volunteer industry committee including more than 100 outdoor companies, the Eco Index tool encompasses guidelines, performance indicators, footprint metrics and a comparative scoring system against a six-stage lifecycle approach. 

The Eco Index initiative, a partnership with the European Outdoor Group, has been facilitated by Zero Waste Alliance (ZWA), a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit focused on developing standards, tools and practices that lead to a more sustainable future.  The Portland Development Commission has provided critical financial support for the Eco Index.