FASHIONATING WORLD: Canopy helps brands source sustainable fiber, save forests

March 9, 2016. Originally published in Fashionating World.

An initiative called Canopy is inducing apparel brands and retailers to make sustainable viscose sourcing commitments. About 70 million to 100 million trees are felled every year to produce textiles, approximately 30 per cent originating from ancient and endangered forests. Global expansion of plantations for the production of pulp for fabrics has greatly impacted indigenous and forest-dependent communities.

Viscose manufacturers representing more than 60 per cent of global rayon production are now committed to the Canopy campaign. New alternative fibers such as garment waste, recovered fabrics, agricultural residues, and other non-woods can be part of the solution to reduce the pressure on the world’s forests. Companies are expanding the scope of their work on alternative fibers and looking to explore whether they can become a replacement for forest fiber.

Six large Chinese viscose producers have committed to end their use of endangered forest fiber. They are committed to eliminating sourcing from threatened forest ecosystems, high-carbon rainforests, and sources where land-grabbing concerns are an issue in the production of their viscose and rayon textiles.

With continued shift in brands’ environmental requirements, incorporating sustainable forest fiber procurement criteria has become a sound business decision. Using endangered forest fabrics is now out of vogue.