By using low-carbon fibres, fashion retailers can preserve forests

COP27: H&M, Inditex, Stella McCartney commit to low-carbon fibres for textiles

H&M, Inditex, and Stella McCartney are among several global brands to commit to purchasing low-carbon fibres for textiles and packaging, in a move aimed at protecting some of the world’s vital forests and ecosystems.

At COP27 this week, those businesses – along with Ben & Jerry’s, HH Global, Kering, and others – said they would purchase over half a million tonnes of “low-carbon, low-footprint alternative fibres for fashion textiles and paper packaging” to reduce forest degradation pressures from the fashion and packaging industries.

The initiative known as ‘Next Generation Solutions’ is spearheaded by environmental non-profit group, Canopy, and it reflects growing urgency across sectors to accelerate the transition to nature-positive business models.

At last year’s UN Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow, protecting nature was at the centre of commitments to deliver on global climate targets. But today one-third of the world’s most influential companies have yet to make forest conservation commitments, such as using low-carbon fibres, according to the Forest 500 index.

This inaction comes 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 degrees Celsius, which is the target in place to prevent catastrophic climate-related damage to the planet.

Canopy said 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 in the process. It added that alternatives to wood – such as low-carbon fibres sourced from agricultural residues and recycled textiles – are available and can be scaled in order to prevent these rates of logging.

Madelene Ericsson, environmental sustainability business expert at H&M Group, said: “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.”

She added: “Innovative 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.”

Canopy founder & executive director, Nicole Rycroft, commented: “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.”

The signatories also committed to ensuring their respective supply chains are free of Ancient and Endangered Forests.

Read more about retail and COP27 on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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