Guiding document on creating product category rules

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition created a document to guide the apparel and footwear industry in creating consistent and reliable product category rules (PCRs). PRé conducted a third party review of the document before publication.


The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an industry-wide group of over 100 leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers, nonprofits, and NGOs working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. With the support of the Institute for Environmental Research and Education (, a program operator), SAC created a sector guidance for the apparel and footwear industry for the creation of consistent and reliable product category rules (PCRs). As part of its adherence to high quality standards, SAC requested a third party review of the PCR guidance document before publication. The guidance document aims to be the reference under which all new apparel PCR’s are made.


PRé gathered a three person panel with combined expertise in the footwear and apparel sector, PCRs, and Type III labeling from Europe, US and Japan. An assessment of the sector guidance was performed to ensure its compliance with ISO 14025 and its use as a robust resource for the creation of PCRs. The first step was to distill criteria from the ISO standard against which to review the documents as this has not been performed at the PCR guidance level in the past. Comments were classified as general comments and ISO 14025 specific comments. General comments focused on areas such as structure, completeness, level of detail, consistency, interpretation, and practicality. ISO 14025-specific comments focused on areas such as scope of the program, involvement of interested parties, procedure for defining product categories, procedure for data management, procedure for maintenance of PCRs, and incentive for sufficient harmonization.

PRé was impressed with the scope and ambitions of the sector guidance. However, as part of the critical review, PRé also noted areas for improvement, which were classified as low, medium and high priorities.  PRé determined that if all high priority issues were addressed, then the sector guidance would form an excellent basis for the creation of PCRs for SAC and serve to achieve the intended business goals, while fulfilling the relevant requirements.


Working with PRé, SAC was able to finalize its guidance and further the utility and development of PCRs in its industry. SAC is now entering its pilot phase, which is expected to last into 2014. As the industry members use the guidance to create PCRs, the current document will be revised based on the experience of the pilot program.

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