Over the last six years, collaboration has deepened between the world’s largest viscose and cellulosic fibre producers and Canopy. As a result of this solutions focused work and the corporate leadership of many of these producers, a transformation of the viscose supply chain has begun. In this market shift, the industry is reducing its impact on our world’s Ancient and Endangered Forests, and using its commercial, political and social influence to advance tangible forest conservation solutions.

These dramatic shifts are directly attributable to the actions of leading viscose producers and of course, the strong and consistent engagement by clothing brands, retailers and designers of their supply chain. The visionary commitment of CanopyStyle brand partners to innovative solutions is also driving the development and adoption of innovative and disruptive technologies. These Next Generation Solutions will diversify the viscose fibre basket to ensure fabrics in the future are made from lower impact raw materials such as used clothing, agricultural residues and microbial cellulosic fibres.

Considerable work still lies ahead to build a truly circular economy for fashion. With the urgent calls of climate scientists and biodiversity experts, it is indisputable that bold systematic change of the viscose supply chain needs to happen quickly and at scale. This year’s Hot Button Ranking shows that we are making strong gains as we work together to transform the viscose sector. We are confident that with continued work together, we can accelerate the pace and scale of change!

Highlights of Producer Performance in 2019 include:

  • Zero to 42.5% green shirts in six years: Birla Cellulose, ENKA, Kelheim, Lenzing, Tangshan Sanyou and Xinxiang Chemical Fiber (Bailu) all earn green shirt designation – with Birla Cellulose and Lenzing obtaining the first-ever partial dark green shirts.
  • Three producers are now selling viscose made from recycled textiles, and 11 producers have made investments for the advancement of Next Gen solutions.
  • Seven percent of the industry’s production capacity earned a ‘yellow/green shirt’ with Yibin Grace, Formosa and Eastman putting policies into action and showing significant continuous progress.
  • Five producers developed new policies in 2019 including by the world’s fifth largest viscose producer Zhongtai Textile Company Ltd, Jilin, Formosa, ITOCHU Corporation Textile Company Fashion Apparel Division and Kelheim. This means that now a total of 17 viscose producers, representing 84 % of global viscose production, have formal CanopyStyle policies in place.
  • Twelve producers, which represent 70% of global production capacity, are now formally and actively engaged in the CanopyStyle Audit process.
  • Eleven producers have taken action to support the conservation of critical forest landscapes, such as Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem, Canada’s Broadback Forest and Vancouver Island Rainforests, including Aditya Birla who has seeded initial investments in support of science-based conservation-planning.
  • Five producers have ‘red shirts’, which indicates they do not meet minimum requirement for compliance.

Breakthrough of New Green Shirts in China and the Emerging Role of CV

A noteworthy development in 2019 has been the growing leadership taken by viscose producers in China to address their environmental footprint for forest-based raw materials sourcing, as well as impacts related to the chemical processing of viscose.

Leading Chinese producers are deepening their engagement with their dissolving pulp suppliers and reducing risk in their supply chain. These companies are rigorously gathering sourcing information, shifting away from risk, engaging supply chain partners to participate in large-scale conservation solutions, and using their influence amongst peers to reduce impacts on Ancient and Endangered Forests and support their protection.

It is a strong testimony to the consistent and dynamic engagement of China-based producers that two of them are awarded light green shirts for the first time in 2019, with an additional one earning yellow/green shirt.

In addition, the Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (CV) has also played a considerable role in raising awareness, among its members and China’s textile sector, of the environmental impact related to both the chemical processing of viscose, as well as raw material sourcing. Currently, 80% of CV’s members are engaged within CanopyStyle, and two members have attained light green shirts.

Canopy and CV have been exploring possibilities for cooperation that meets the objectives of both organizations. Canopy hopes that we will eventually arrive at a mutually agreeable solution in order to meet brand expectations and help position even more Chinese viscose producers to be competitive in a rapidly evolving global market.

Risk Mitigation – Opportunities and New Tools

Opportunities to mitigate risk can include different approaches, from directly removing a controversial source, to launching investigations, from developing new due diligence systems to engaging suppliers to persuade them to take immediate remedial actions.

One such case of early stage risk mitigation is showcased by producer Sateri, whose 2018 CanopyStyle Audit identified substantive risks in its supply chain. Sateri’s audit showed both impacts on Ancient and Endangered Forests and social controversy in Indonesia linked to sourcing by its sister company APRIL, an Indonesian company whose operations, largely on peatlands1,2 , have historically been, and are still, fraught with controversy4,5. In October 2019, Sateri announced the adoption an action plan to start addressing the significant social and environmental impacts of its raw material sourcing for viscose. Canopy is encouraged by some of their commitments to date, but it is important to note this is the first step in a long-term process to shift this high impact supply chain. Shifting suppliers’ practices does not happen immediately and will require serious long-term investment in redress and restoration.

To assist producers as they complete their CanopyStyle verification audit and transition to more sustainable sources of fibre including Next Generation Solutions, Canopy created a Dissolving Pulp Mill Classification. Supported by the CanopyStyle Leaders for Forest Conservation as well as other CanopyStyle brand partners implementing their MMCF sourcing policies, the Classification is designed to help producers prioritize their efforts and resources where they are most urgently required to safeguard the world’s last large tracts of Ancient and Endangered Forests. In order to enable conservation of forests with the highest ecological value, the CanopyStyle initiative has also identified Ancient and Endangered Forests that intersect with Intact Forest Landscapes as additional priority areas.

Key priority Ancient and Endangered Forest landscapes are as follow:

  • Canadian and Russian Boreal Forests;
  • Coastal Temperate Rainforests;
  • Tropical Forests and Peatlands of Indonesia;
  • Tropical Forests of the Amazon;
  • Tropical Forests of West Africa.

The Dissolving Pulp Mill Classification is a dynamic tool that will be updated on a regular basis as new verified information becomes available. It responds to the clear call made at the Brand and Producer CanopyStyle Summit in Shanghai in June 2019, where industry saw the opportunity to create efficiencies in engaging and advancing solutions with dissolving pulp supply chain partners.