The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Sustainability Working Group has been selected by the White House as a Champion of Change for Corporate Environmental Sustainability. The OIA Sustainability Working Group (OIA SWG) is a volunteer collaboration among more than 250 outdoor industry brands, retailers and suppliers working to identify and improve the environmental and social impacts of their shared global supply chains.
The White House Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, the program highlights a different sector and group of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, and recognizes them for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
“This recognition is a welcome validation of our industry’s commitment to promote socially, environmentally and ethically responsible business practices that reflect the underlying values of the outdoor industry and our customers,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA. “While the OIA SWG is proud to accept the Champions of Change award, we recognize that our industry’s journey toward sustainability is just beginning. We don’t have all of the answers, but we are committed to collaboration and to finding realistic yet aspirational solutions.”
The OIA SWG grew from the efforts of leading outdoor industry companies that were independently exploring ways to identify and improve their environmental and social impacts. These companies recognized that in order to see meaningful reduction in impacts, they needed a consistent and global benchmarking and measurement tool.
In 2007, these companies began to develop the OIA Eco Index, a shared product sustainability indexing tool that provides a standardized framework and language to assess product-level sustainability. In 2011, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) – a broader coalition of brands representing 30 percent of the global apparel and footwear supply chain – announced that it would adopt the OIA Eco Index as the basis for its apparel and footwear indexes. The OIA SWG continues to work closely with the SAC to further develop the index, and the first version, focused on apparel, is set for broad release later this year.
The OIA SWG is recognized globally for its thought leadership and ability to take action to address supply-chain and product-level sustainability challenges, as well as for showing that it is possible for traditional industry competitors to work together toward meaningful change in their business operations.
On Thursday, April 12, Hugelmeyer is attending a White House Champions of Change recognition event on behalf of the OIA SWG, along with OIA SWG Advisory Council members Betsy Blaisdell, senior manager for environmental stewardship at Timberland; Sandra Cho, corporate responsibility manager for Columbia Sportswear; Jill Dumain, director of environmental strategy for Patagonia; and Kevin Myette, director of product integrity for REI.
The current OIA SWG Advisory Council is comprised of representatives from Black Diamond, Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Nau, Nester Hosiery, Patagonia, Petzl, PMI, Polartec, REI and Timberland.
The OIA SWG is methodically examining product-level sustainability issues, seeking solutions in four key areas: 1) index development for apparel, footwear and equipment, 2) responsible chemicals management, 3) materials traceability in the supply chain, and 4) social responsibility and fair labor issues.
“Cutting waste, reducing energy use and operating more sustainably translates to less pollution and lower utility bills for businesses across the country,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The leaders we’ve selected as Champions of Change are proving that sustainable practices work for companies’ bottom lines, and work for the health of American communities.”
About the Champions of Change Event
Thursday, April 12, 2012 1:30-3:30 EDT
The White House
Live stream at whitehouse.gov/live