December 23, 2015. Originally published in Sustainable Brands by Hannah Furlong.
Viscose and rayon fibers are made from wood pulp and are some of the most widely used in clothing and textiles, threatening endangered forests. Approximately 120 million trees are logged annually for fabrics and about one third of them are sourced from ancient and/or endangered forests. Since its launch in October 2013, 60 companies have committed to eliminate endangered forests from their fabric supply chains by 2017 through the CanopyStyle initiative.
CanopyStyle is setting a trend for collaboration between environmental not-for-profit Canopy and brands and retailers such as H&M, Zara/Inditex, Levi Strauss & Co.,Marks & Spencer, EILEEN FISHER, Stella McCartney, G-Star Raw, Arcadia Group,C&A China, and Lindex to establish less destructive supply chains. The 60 signatories represent a purchasing power of over $85 billion in annual sales.
“Protecting the world’s endangered forests is quickly becoming the norm for apparel brands and designers. This added momentum is providing critical incentive for more brands and home retailers to join CanopyStyle in 2016. Together we’re setting the sustainability bar for viscose producers with the incentive of new customer loyalty and market access,” said Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director of Canopy.
Three viscose producers, representing 35 percent of the global market, have adopted endangered forest sourcing policies since the campaign began two years ago. The viscose supply chain is poised for swift progress – just ten companies control three-quarters of global production.
“I’m particularly excited by the strong uptake by brands, the traction we’re gaining through the viscose supply chain, and how this work is translating to gains on the ground, in places like Indonesia’s rainforests and the Great Bear Rainforest,” Rycroft added.
Canopy expects to make two big announcements for forests in 2016: The organization is working with local partners to protect the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia – the last place on earth where oragutans, elephants, rhinos and tigers all still live together; and is working with brand partners, NGO allies, First Nations and the Province of British Columbia to finalize the conservation of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, which has been the subject of negotiations for more than 15 years.
Canopy is also working with its brand and designer partners to develop fabric innovations such as using recycled clothes, straw or sustainably grown bamboo instead of trees.