We are at a tipping point in tackling the issues of Ancient and Endangered Forests in fashion and textiles. Thanks to the commitment and engagement of partner clothing brands, retailers, and designers, and to the responsiveness of MMCF producers, a transformation of the viscose supply chain is underway.
As the CanopyStyle initiative reduces impacts on our world’s Ancient and Endangered Forests, it is clear we have more to accomplish together. There is a need for more MMCF producers to engage and for some, concrete actions on core risks are still outstanding. We will not be successful in our fight against the climate crisis, in safeguarding biodiversity, or in defending the rights of frontline forest communities until lasting conservation solutions are in place and innovative Next Generation Solutions displace the current pressure on our forest ecosystems.
The momentum we have built together is tangible, and in 2020, despite the challenges of a global pandemic, we have seen significant actions and leadership from MMCF producers.
Highlights of Producer Performance in 2020 Include:
- Surpassing the 50% threshold: 52% of the global production capacity have obtained ‘green shirt’, which is a requirement for Canopy’s 320 brand partners with commitments not to source from Ancient and Endangered Forests.
- Ten MMCF producers — Eastman, ENKA, Formosa, Jilin, Kelheim, Tangshan Sanyou, Xinxiang Chemical Fiber (Bailu), and Yibin Grace have earned green shirt designations, with Birla Cellulose and Lenzing obtaining the first-ever ranking of dark green shirts.
- The growing leadership taken by four viscose producers in China to address their environmental footprint for forest-based raw materials sourcing.
- Ninety percent of the global production capacity is committed to the CanopyStyle initiative through public sourcing policies.
- Four new audit contracts were signed in the fall of 2020, and a total of 72% of global capacity have completed their independent CanopyStyle Audits with reports being publicly available.
- Eleven producers have leant their support to conservation solutions. Some have agreed to attend an event in January 2021 to support lasting solutions in the Great Bear Rainforest.
- Aditya Birla has invested deeply in conservation planning in a region linked to their pulp and paper supply chains, and has agreed to scenarios with Canopy that propose to conserve approximately 70% of key Ancient and Endangered Forests. Read more in the Geographies section, below.
- Ten producers, out of more than 30 listed, have red shirts or red within their shirts, which indicates they do not meet minimum requirements for compliance and/or it has been confirmed by the CanopyStyle Audits that pulp known to be at high risk of coming from Ancient and Endangered Forests and/or other controversial sources remains in their supply chain.
- Support and Scale up for Next Generation Fibre
Next Generation Solutions are key, and indisputably needed to diversify the viscose fibre basket and ensure that in the future, the majority of fabrics available on the market will be made from lower impact raw materials such as used clothing, agricultural residues, and microbial cellulosic fibres. Led by the demand of CanopyStyle brand partners committed to innovative solutions, we are seeing consistent progress in the development and adoption of innovative and disruptive technologies. These include:
- Four of the top five largest producers with deep supply chain integration have invested significantly in the advancement of Next Generation Solutions and are now selling viscose made from recycled textiles.
- MMCF producers declared to be investing, for the course of the next 5-10 years, a combined sum of USD $233 million in the advancement of Next Generation Fibre Solutions.
- Producers have signalled, to investors interested in securing equity for innovation, their intent to potentially procure 274, 000 tonnes of Next Generation pulp in the future. This is enough to replace approximately eight million trees.
- Nine producers support the targets and timeline within the Next Generation Vision for Viscose, which defines an ambitious goal for surging forward on Next Generation inputs like recycled clothes and agricultural waste to replace trees in these fabrics.
More specifically, targets and timelines within this Next Generation Vision for Viscose include support for:
- All new viscose production capacity and/or mill expansions to be located in proximity to, and tailored for, the processing of Next Gen feedstocks.
- Twenty percent of all viscose production will be using Next Generation feedstock content — with a priority of replacing any remaining sourcing from Ancient and Endangered Forests and/or controversial sources, by the end of 2021.
- Production of enough innovative Next Generation fibre to replace at least 90% of viscose production volumes currently coming from Ancient and Endangered Forests, by 2025.
- In 2030, 50% of all viscose made from Next Generation feedstocks.
Chemical Use and Emissions – Reinforcing ZDHC Guidelines
Over the years, the textile industry has been encouraged by several organizations such as the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), and Changing Markets to address their factories’ chemical use and hazardous waste, as well as air and water emissions that affect environmental quality and human health.
The impacts of pollution from viscose processing are important to consider parallel to the impacts related to raw material sourcing on ecosystems, water, biodiversity, climate, and communities. New in 2020, Canopy is providing the clothing sector with an integrated tool needed to assess the progress by producers in addressing both of these core risks.
As part of our collaboration with ZDHC, Canopy is now reporting on producers’ efforts to adopt and follow through with implementation of the new ZDHC MMCF Guidelines. As the ZDHC MMCF Guidelines have only been released recently, the 2020 Hot Button Report is only able to document which producers are contributors to ZDHC and/or which have made a public commitment to key elements of the Changing Markets Roadmap at this time. In the details of this section of the Hot Button Report, both brands and producers can see what is coming for 2021 reporting.
In Some Geographies, Risk Remains High
Overall, the Hot Button Ranking shows that we are making strong gains as we work together to transform the viscose sector. However, considering the ever-increasing urgent calls of climate scientists and biodiversity experts, all have a responsibility to adapt and mitigate the global climate disruptions and to curb biodiversity loss.
A recent UN report1, launched as we are facing the global COVID-19 pandemic, also suggests that continued biodiversity loss, and the ongoing degradation of natural ecosystems, are having profound consequences on human wellbeing and survival.
Overall, threats to forest ecosystems are on the increase, meaning if an area is no longer at threat from MMCF, other demands, such as paper-based packaging, biofuels or tissue are still of concern. This underscores the importance of an accelerated scale up of conservation, as well as production of Next Generation Solutions.
The total area of tropical rainforest loss and temperate forest degradation has not abated across the globe. While devastating forest fires in Brazil, Indonesia and Australia compound the loss, industrial activities such as logging, mining, and commodity driven agriculture and tree plantations continue to be the driving cause of impacts to forests and a leading cause of the climate crisis.
As such, it is Canopy’s responsibility to highlight the risk related to producers, such as Sateri, whose independent Audit identified substantive risks in its supply chain, related to impacts on Ancient and Endangered Forests, and social controversy in Indonesia linked to sourcing by its sister company APRIL, whose operations, largely on peatlands2,3, have historically been, and are still, fraught with controversy 4,5,6.
While a dialogue has been initiated between Canopy, and Sateri and APR supplier APRIL, it is important to note this is the first step in a long-term process to shift this high impact supply chain. Addressing core risks requires serious long-term investment and actions in ecological and social remediation, conservation and restoration. A commitment to address core issues and embark on a concrete pathway to solutions is a critical and still much-needed step.
We are seeing an understanding of the importance of lasting solutions in critical areas of Ancient and Endangered Forests from MMCF producers. Eleven producers have shown an interest in lending their support to conservation solutions, by agreeing to attend an event in January 2021 to support lasting solutions in the Great Bear Rainforest, or by meaningfully engaging their pulp suppliers with the goal that they will forward conservation in the Ancient and Endangered Forests they source from.
Of note, Aditya Birla has invested deeply in conservation planning in a region linked to their pulp and paper supply chains. Although fibre from this region is not currently enter their MMCF facilities, Birla has taken on a proactive approach to ensuring that its broader operations also consider Ancient and Endangered Forests. Aditya Birla has agreed to scenarios with Canopy that propose to conserve approximately 70% of key Ancient and Endangered forests, and the advancement of FSC certification in sourcing tenures — while maintaining the harvesting opportunities critical to First Nations and local communities, and recognizing that in Canada’s Boreal Forests all final decision rest with First Nations’ and Provincial governments.
Solutions such as the protection of existing forests and restoring deforested areas that have been harvested more than is ecologically appropriate have been identified by scientists as one-third of the climate solution, and necessary to maintain habitat for 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Large-scale forest conservation within the next decade will be critical for humanity and our continued life of Earth.