SUPPLY MANAGEMENT: Rayon producer commits to forest protection policy

By Marino Donati, originally published in Supply Management.

Rayon producer Aditya Birla has pledged to eliminate sourcing from ancient and endangered forests for all of its viscose fibres.

The Indian manufacturer produces 20 per cent of the world’s supply of the material, made from wood pulp fibres, which is widely used in clothing and textiles.

The commitment applies to wood and pulp sourcing for all its mills, and the company will not source fibre from endangered forests or endangered species habitat, such as Indonesia’s tropical forest and Canada’s boreal forest, unless meaningful conservation plans are in place.

At least 30 per cent of trees felled to produce pulp for fabric originate in the world’s ancient and endangered forests, according to Canadian environmental group Canopy, which helped Aditya Birla develop its new policy.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, said: “We’re committed to avoiding any endangered forest fibre in our products and are excited to help drive innovation in the development of fabrics made from new fibres that reduce the pressure on the world’s natural forests.”

“We and many of our customers in the fashion industry are equally committed to developing sustainable business solutions that help conserve forests and species.”

Aditya Birla owns dissolving pulp mills in Laos, Sweden, Canada, and India, producing around 1.1 million tonnes annually. The company is committed to exploring research and development opportunities for alternative fibre sources and new technologies that reduce environmental impacts.

Canopy said it had helped 25 major fashion brands, including H&M, Zara, Levi Strauss and Marks & Spencer and Stella McCartney, develop similar endangered forest commitments in the past 18 months.

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