Fuzzy Mathematics for Evaluating Environmental Impacts in Wearing Apparel Companies

Project facts

Project promoter
University Jaume I
Project Number:
ES07-0060
Target groups
Researchers or scientists
Status:
Completed
Initial project cost:
€20,550
Final project cost:
€17,745
From EEA Grants:
€ 17,745
The project is carried out in:
Spain

More information

Description

The incorporation of fuzzy logic helps to reduce the complexity of the environmental impact assessment and make the selection of criteria and the weights less arbitrary. The main result of this project is to develop a methodology that allows the evaluation of environmental impact at a corporate level in the wearing apparel industry. The result of this project contributes to the environmental evaluation tools used by management systems, allowing wearing apparel companies measure their progress towards environmental targets and enhance the pressures of the other market actors in order to move toward sustainable development. All the actors involved in the study of environmental impact are expected to benefit from the project. The Project promoter (University Jaume I) will be able to address legal problems in the environmental impact assessment such as the different legislative approaches in the various countries involved in the supply chain. Donor partner, University of Oslo, is an expert in the company law, sustainability issues, and interaction between law and social norms.

Summary of project results

A growing number of scholars and agencies have developed synthetic indices and ratings to provide environmental information to different stakeholders. However, the underlying dimensions of indices are not clearly defined and the opacity of the methodologies employed call into question the reliability and comparability of scores. The procedure followed for the elaboration of a synthetic index implies the selection and standardization of the variables, the construction of indicators, the selection of the aggregation methodology and its functional form and their implicit and explicit weightings. The traditional methodologies have not implemented any external weighting system that assumes greater importance for certain indicators or address the offsetting problem, Positive and negative environmental impacts are not mirror images and therefore a firm by “doing good” are not necessarily “avoiding harm” to the environment. These methodologies do not include the preferences of market actors in the assessment process, either. This project has developed a new methodology to assess the environmental impact at company level, overcoming the limitations of the traditional methodologies. To that end, the proposed methodology has integrated expert knowledge based on fuzzy mathematics into the assessment process. With the aim of providing a robust methodology, different fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making methods, such as Fuzzy Inference System and Fuzzy TOPSIS were explored. With the aim of illustrating the proposed methodology in a specific industry, this project examined the wearing apparel industry. This industry is a valuable example of important environmental impacts along the supply chain (product design, fiber production, yarn and fabric production, fabric dyeing and finishing, clothing production, selling and distribution, recycling, and disposal) such as significant CO2 and GHG emissions originated from clothing production or high consumption of energy and water during washing of clothes. Moreover, the textile industry is a global one, and the legal system of a single country would not be able to address the great environmental problems. As a result, this project has contributed to wearing apparel industry by providing a methodology that allows companies to measure their progress towards environmental targets and market actors to use relevant, standardized and comparable information to make sustainability decisions.

Summary of bilateral results

The partnership contributed to the success of the project in different ways: 1) allowing to integrate the legal requirement of the environmental consideration and the specificities of the wearing apparel industry into the synthetic index design. The legal requirements were the starting point to advance in the sustainability direction and they represent lower levels of the index. 2) The wearing apparel industry is a global one where the different business activities of the supply chain are located in different countries with different legislation. The planned cooperation of this project made it possible to address this question in the synthetic index design. 3) To examine the market actors’ preferences in different countries and with different contextual frameworks such as Spain and Norway. This made the selection of criteria and the weights more robust and valid, and helped standardize the environmental impact assessment; 3) To extend the dissemination of the results of the actions undertaken within the framework of this programme. The partnership significantly contributed to disseminate the proposed methodology in the academic and professional worlds, with the aim of, ultimately, increasing the pressures of the different market actors in order to move towards sustainable development. Partners organized and attended various workshops and meetings, established numerous relations with stakeholders of the wearing apparel industry and with scholars, both from Norway and from Spain. During the project, partners contacted other scholars to extend the NILS project to consider other sustainability dimensions as social, corporate governance and economic, as well as other industries. These efforts were materialized in an application H2020 of the Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART) project, led by Norwegian research group, the methodological package being led by the Spanish research group. The development of this project proposal allows the Spanish group to extend their network, since the proposal of the SMART project was jointly prepared with experts from other universities and institutions such as University of Oslo, CICERO Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, Universiteit Nyenrode, Copenhagen Business School, Polski Instytut Praw Czlowieka I Biznesu, University of Ghana, Allerhand Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of Bristol. University of Sheffield and University of Stockholm among others.