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COP 27 commitment to new fibres

Market pull essential to attract necessary investment for building scale.

14th November 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Leading companies including H&M, Inditex, Ben & Jerry’s, Stella McCartney, HH Global and Kering have announced a collective commitment to purchase over half a million tons of regenerated cellulosic and other alternative fibres for fashion textiles and paper packaging at COP 27.

Spearheaded by environmental nonprofit Canopy, this commitment to next generation solutions reflects a growing urgency across industries to accelerate the transition to nature-positive business models and the market pull is essential to attract the investment necessary to scale the game-changing fibre alternatives on ecologically meaningful timelines.

At last year’s UN Climate Change Conference, protecting nature was at the centre 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 fibre 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 founder and executive director Nicole Rycroft. “This commitment will allow us to take a historic leap closer to the $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 fibre.

© Canopy

“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. “Low-carbon solutions, such as regenerated cellulosic fibres from waste textiles, microbial cellulose or agricultural residues, will play a vital role to help us reduce our impact on climate and protect forests, so no ancient and endangered forests are put at risk to make fashion. These next generation solutions and collaborations like Canopy’s help us taking strong steps towards our goal for all our materials to be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030.”

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 fibres, Next-Generation Solutions have on average 95% to 130% less CO2 emissions, 18% to 70% less fossil energy resource depletion, 88% to 100% less land-use impacts and at least five times lower impact on biodiversity and threatened species.

Canopy is a not-for-profit environmental organisation dedicated to protecting forests, species, and climate. Canopy has collaborated with more than 750 companies to develop cutting-edge environmental policies that transform unsustainable supply chains, spark innovative solutions, and protect our world’s remaining Ancient and Endangered Forests.

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