Viscose (also known as rayon), modal, and lyocell are derived from cellulose made from the dissolved wood pulp of trees. They account for 8% of the materials used at C&A during 2018.
Less than 20% of the world’s ancient forests remain in tracts large enough to maintain biological diversity [SOURCE: Canopy]. We have a responsibility to protect what is left, and we need to do it quickly – at current rates, 55% of the Amazon rainforest could be gone by 2030.
We are working with the CanopyStyle initiative to tackle the logging of the world’s ancient and endangered forests, alongside 170 other brand partners. We joined the initiative in 2015 and published our Forest & Fabric policy the same year.
Our global commitment means we are assessing our sourcing of cellulose-based fibres and eliminate the sourcing of fabrics made of pulp from ancient and endangered forests, and other controversial sources.
Responsible environmental management practices in cellulosic production
Raw material sourcing is only one of the many challenges in the production of man-made cellulosics. Production practices are important as well. In 2018, the Changing Markets Foundation authored a roadmap towards responsible viscose and modal fibre manufacturing, outlining the steps needed to address these challenges.
We are committed to working with the industry and with producers to improve chemical and environmental practices in cellulosic fibre production using the best practices identified in the roadmap, and to helping suppliers remediate current challenges. This includes working with ZDHC on their development of standards and protocols for the viscose industry, collaborating with like-minded brands, and working directly with suppliers on continuous improvement plans. The areas of focus as outlined in the roadmap include regulatory compliance, human rights, raw materials from responsibly managed resources under our Canopy commitment, biodiversity, waste minimisation, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, water impacts minimisation, prevention of water pollution, and other considerations.
In 2017, all C&A Europe and C&A China suppliers signed an agreement to source viscose from two suppliers only – Birla and Lenzing – when producing garments for C&A. Both companies are third-party-verified suppliers of cellulosics and have been confirmed as ‘low risk’ of controversial fibre. This verification gives us confidence that they have the right practices in place to prevent ancient or endangered forest products entering their supply chain. As of 2018, 100% of man-made cellulosics for C&A in Europe and China have been confirmed as low risk.
We are one of the only large brands to have taken this significant step, and we did so in order to send a clear signal to the market that we are serious about protecting the world’s forests. Since C&A Europe accounts for the majority of viscose used within the company, our new agreement makes a real difference for C&A’s viscose sourcing.
C&A Brazil implemented our Forest & Fabric policy in its domestic supply chains with 20 suppliers responsible for approximately 60% of the domestic man-made cellulosic fibre volume. In 2018, we increased procurement of cellulosic materials from producers that have been verified as having a low risk of controversial fibre. We plan further rollout of this approach in our Brazilian supply chain in 2019. C&A Mexico began evaluating its supply chain as a first step, work that will continue in 2019.
Helping to shift the market
The CanopyStyle initiative aims to shift the entire man-made cellulosics market and eliminate the sourcing of fabrics made of pulp from ancient and endangered forests, and other controversial sources. To achieve this, producers must go through the CanopyStyle verification audit and publish their results.
To date, CanopyStyle has confirmed through audits that 28% of the global production of man-made cellulosics is at low risk of sourcing from ancient and endangered forests.An additional four producers, representing 30% of global production, have completed and published their CanopyStyle audit, but have yet to drive improvements in their wood supply chain to be verified as low risk. Canopy also released the ForestMapper tool in late 2018, which will enable us to view where ancient and endangered forests are located and make more informed decisions when purchasing viscose fabrics. Along with more than 100 other companies across various industries, we are committed to using ForestMapper to reduce the risk of sourcing from the world’s ancient and endangered Forests.
Cutting carbon through more sustainable viscose
We estimate that our sourcing of more sustainable viscose in 2018 avoided 62,054 metric tons of CO2e emissions, a reduction of 47% compared to conventional viscose.
Rolling out our global commitment
Globally, we will continue to work with suppliers to eliminate the sourcing of fabrics made from controversial sources and train suppliers on the Canopy Style Initiative. We will also work with them to adopt the practices in the Changing Markets Foundation roadmap for cleaner viscose production and continue working with ZDHC on standards for assessing performance that will help to drive further improvement in fibre production.