Preferred man-made cellulosics Protecting endangered forests

Viscose (also known as rayon), modal and lyocell are derived from cellulose made from the dissolved wood pulp of trees. They account for 7.5% of the materials used at C&A.

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 160 other brand partners. We joined the initiative in 2015 and published our Forest & Fabric policy the same year.

Our global commitment, means we will assess our sourcing of cellulose based fibres and:

  • Eliminate the sourcing of fabrics made from pulp from ancient and endangered forests, and other controversial sources.
  • Show a preference for suppliers who are working to preserve endangered forests or use FSC-certified methods.
  • Train and engage suppliers on the Canopy Style Initiative, encouraging them to conduct verification audits and share their results publicly.

We also recognize that viscose production impacts do not stop at the forest.  In this light, we are committed to the Changing Markets Foundation roadmap toward cleaner viscose production and are committed to working with ZDHC on developing standards and protocols for assessing performance and driving continuous improvement in fibre production.

Our 2017 performance

Taking bold steps to lead the market

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.   We constantly monitor the sources of our raw materials and publish the suppliers of the viscose fibre used in our garments on an annual basis.

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 will make a real difference.

From 2018 onwards, all products containing man-made cellulosic fibres that are delivered to C&A stores in Europe and China will be sourced from producers that are free from ancient and endangered forests.

Piloting more sustainable cellulosics in Brazil

C&A Brazil launched a pilot to understand how our Forest & Fabric policy can be implemented in its domestic supply chains, and found that suppliers’ management systems needed to be improved in order to comply. We plan further rollout of the approach in our Brazilian supply chain in 2018.

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 25% of the global production of man-made cellulosics is at low risk of sourcing from ancient and endangered forests. An additional three producers, representing 30% of global production, are now in the CanopyStyle audit process. Publication of their results is expected in 2018.

We need brands and retailers to continue supporting the initiative and send a strong signal to the market. For this reason, C&A Foundation is supporting Canopy to help strengthen the initiative, so it can bring more brands on board.

Cutting carbon through more sustainable viscose

We estimate that our sourcing of more sustainable viscose in 2017 avoided 20,124 metric tons of CO2e emissions, a reduction of 19% compared to conventional viscose.

Read more about how we reduce our CO2 emissions


Where next?

Rolling out our global commitment

In 2018, based on the learnings from the first pilot, C&A Brazil will increase its procurement of cellulosic materials from producers that have been verified as having a low risk of controversial fibre. C&A Mexico will develop its approach, investigating its supply chain as a first step.

Looking at the environmental management practices of man-made cellulosic producers

Raw material sourcing is only one of the many challenges in the production of man-made cellulosics. In February 2018, the Changing Markets Foundation authored a report about the steps to be taken to address these challenges.  We are committed to the roadmap and to working with the industry and with producers to improve chemical and environmental practices at cellulosic fibre production, and to remediate current challenges.  More concretely, we are working with ZDHC on thier development of standards and protocols for the viscose industry, collaborating with like-minded brands and working directly with Lenzing and Birla on a continuous improvement plan.  The areas of focus as outlined in the roadmap are as follows:

  • compliance with laws and workplace regulations
  • recognition, respect for and upholding of human rights and the rights of communities
  • raw materials are sourced from plantations, forests or farms that are responsibly managed through our Canopy committment
  • consideration for biodiversity
  • waste is prevented, reused, recycled, recovered and/or disposed of in an environmentally sustainable way
  • greenhouse gas emissions are reduced;
  • air emissions from processing plants are reduced, with appropriate air pollution control systems
  • in place;
  • impacts on water are mitigated by implementing water management plans and additional measures in water-stressed areas, including:
    • establishment of impact assessments, including water resource assessment
    • minimisation of water withdrawal from the environment
    • prevention of water pollution, in particular the cessation of release of any priority hazardous substances with the ZDHC MMCF Roundtable
    • deployment of dedicated wastewater treatment systems appropriate to the volume of wastewater produced, so that chemicals used in the production of viscose are discharged in compliance with best practice

  • implementation of precautionary measures to reduce/eliminate release of toxic chemicals, including accident-prevention measures and regular surveillance
  • development of a plan for zero discharge of hazardous waste through leaks, spills, regular operations, uncontrolled discharges etc.
  • transparent communication on environmental track record, e.g. making monitoring data available online