Preferred man-made cellulosics Focusing on conservation and environmental protection

Viscose (also known as rayon), modal, and lyocell are derived from cellulose made from the dissolved wood pulp of trees. They account for 7% of the materials used at C&A during 2019.

CanopyStyle research has found that, increasingly, forests are being used in the manufacture of dissolving pulp to produce fabrics such as rayon/viscose, modal, and lyocell. In fact:

  • More than 150 million trees are logged every year and turned into cellulosic fabric – if placed end to end, those trees would circle the earth seven times.
  • Between 2013 and 2020, it is expected that the number of trees being logged every year and turned into fabric such as viscose will have doubled.
  • Dissolving-pulp (the base material for rayon/viscose) wastes approximately 70% of the tree and is a chemically intensive manufacturing process.
  • Less than 20 percent of the world’s ancient forests remain in intact tracts large enough to maintain biological diversity.
  • Forests in Indonesia, Canada’s Boreal and temperate rainforests, and the Amazon are being logged for next season’s fashion and apparel. [SOURCE: Canopy]

 

 

Protecting endangered forests

To support the conservation of Ancient and Endangered Forests in the production of viscose, we are working with the CanopyStyle Initiative. Through this initiative we have committed to assessing the sourcing of cellulose-based fibres and eliminating fabrics made of pulp from Ancient and Endangered Forests, and other controversial sources.

Our actions include:

  • Showing a preference for suppliers who are working to preserve endangered forests or use Forest Stewardship Council- (FSC)-certified methods, including those that have been awarded 'green shirts' in the CanopyStyle Hot Button Report.
  • Training and engaging suppliers on the CanopyStyle Initiative, encouraging them to conduct verification audits and share their results publicly.

Suppliers are audited by CanopyStyle and their results are published to verify they are not sourcing fabrics made of pulp from Ancient and Endangered Forests, and other controversial sources. 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. Canopy also released the ForestMapper tool, which enables us – and suppliers – to view where Ancient and Endangered Forests are located, and make more informed decisions when purchasing viscose fabrics. 

Committed to responsible viscose production

Viscose production may result in environmental degradation if our suppliers' manufacturing processes are not well controlled. In 2018, the Changing Markets Foundation authored a roadmap towards responsible viscose and modal fibre manufacturing, outlining the steps needed to address these challenges. C&A committed 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 Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (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.

 

Our 2019 performance

Sourcing from suppliers that value conservation of forests

CanopyStyle's Hot Button Ranking and Report serves as the primary fibre sourcing analysis tool for the fashion industry. It includes more than 200 brands, retailers, and designers committed to eliminating the use of Ancient and Endangered Forests in viscose and other cellulosic fabrics. It also gives preference to textiles made from innovative fibres by the end of 2020. The Hot Button Ranking rates the largest global producers of viscose and cellulosic fabrics according to their raw material sourcing practices, and highlights product development with lower impact, as well as producers showing leadership in supporting global forest conservation solutions.

A 'green shirt' designation, the highest rating, as well as a 'yellow/green shirt', signal that these producers have met or are on the path to meeting the requirement to eliminate sourcing from Ancient and Endangered Forests by the end of 2020. The viscose used in C&A collections is sourced from only three suppliers: Birla and Lenzing for staple fibre and Enka for filament — all of which earned 'green shirts' in the Hot Button report.

Additionally, C&A Brazil has been working since 2018 to raise awareness amongst the supply chain about the importance of choosing viscose fibre which does not come from endangered forests, and of the need to select the best origin of this raw material. In 2019, approximately 65% of the volume of viscose used for C&A Brazil products came from suppliers who, through a commitment letter, were made aware of and engaged with this important cause.

Sourcing from suppliers committed to responsible viscose production

In 2019, Changing Markets categorised brands in their Dirty Fashion Report to determine which are leading the transition to working with suppliers that minimise environmental impacts. In the categorisation, C&A was listed at the #3 position in the 'frontrunner' group with nine other brands.

Cutting carbon through more sustainable viscose

We estimate that our sourcing of more sustainable cellulose in 2019 avoided 57,157 metric tons of CO2e (tCO2e) emissions compared to conventional cellulosic fibres, a 45% lower impact than conventional cellulosic fibres.

Read more about how we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions

Where next?

Globally, we will continue working with suppliers to eliminate the sourcing of fabrics made from controversial sources and train suppliers on the Canopy Style Initiative. We will also continue working 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.