Within COP27, currently taking place in Sharm El Sheik, a group of leading companies including H&M, Inditex, Stella McCartney, and Kering announced their collective commitment to purchase over half a million tonnes of low-carbon, low-footprint alternative fibers for fashion textiles and paper packaging. The move aims to support the protection of the world’s vital forests and ecosystems and lower forest degradation pressures from the fashion and packaging supply chains.
At the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, protecting nature was at the center of commitments to deliver on global climate targets. Today, one-third of the world’s most influential companies have yet to make forest conservation commitments, despite the scientific community’s warnings that at least 50% of the world’s forests need to be conserved or restored by 2030 to ensure global temperature rises stay below 1.5 °C.
Every year, over 3.2 billion trees are cut down to produce fiber for packaging and clothing, releasing vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Alternatives to wood - such as agricultural residues and recycled textiles - are readily available and can be scaled in order to prevent the logging of these forests at this untenable rate. Moving to Next Generation Solutions could help avoid almost 1Gt of CO2 emissions between now and 2030.
“We are thrilled to advance this commitment with forward-looking partners who are willing to challenge the status quo and in doing so provide a breakthrough for these game-changing technologies,” said Canopy’s founder and executive director, Nicole Rycroft. “This commitment will allow us to take a historic leap closer to the US$64 billion of investments in sustainable alternatives needed to ensure forest conservation for our planet’s climate and biodiversity stability.”
Today’s commitment will help unlock the investment needed to build 10-20 new low footprint, Next Generation pulp mills, provide farm communities and cities with new markets to replace the burning of straw residue and textile landfilling, and prevent an estimated 2.2 million tons of GHG emissions from going into the atmosphere relative to the equivalent production of virgin forest fiber.
"At H&M Group, we are committed to becoming a circular business, in which moving towards more sustainable alternatives for our materials is crucial. Canopy has showed true leadership by bringing the fashion and regenerated cellulosic industries together with the purpose of reducing fashion’s dependency on forests,” said Madelene Ericsson, environmental sustainability business expert, H&M Group.
The signatories have also committed to ensuring their respective supply chains are free of Ancient and Endangered Forests and are calling on industry peers to follow suit by shifting towards sustainable Next Generation alternatives - such as fibres made from agricultural residue or recycled textiles. When compared to forest fibers, Next-Generation Solutions produce on average: 95% to 130% less CO2 emissions, 18% to 70% less fossil energy resource depletion and 88% to 100% less land-use impacts and at least five times lower impact on biodiversity/threatened species.
“At Kering, we aim at reducing our footprint on biodiversity, and contribute to preserving and restoring critical ecosystems”, said Yoann Régent, head of sustainable sourcing & nature initiatives, Kering. “We are excited to be joining our long-time partner Canopy to support a rapid scale-up of sustainable Next Generation materials production as well as uptake of low-carbon, low-footprint alternative fibers for textiles and paper packaging.”
“We are collaborating with Canopy to accelerate the development and adoption of Next Generation Solutions within supply chains rooted in forests. I am proud to say we have been partnering with Canopy since 2014 and have been a zero-deforestation brand since 2017 – never sourcing from ancient, endangered or protected forests. We must take action today in order to protect our forests for tomorrow,” said Stella McCartney.