The recently released The New Business Imperative: Valuing Natural Capitol report highlights 24 global companies for best business practices and environmental stewardship. One first timer on the list worth watching is CRAiLAR Fiber Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT). The company has developed proprietary technologies to process bast fibers such as flax and hemp, cellulose pulp and the resulting by-products into a fabric with almost the same hand and heft as cotton. The eco report evaluates CRAiLAR’s longest running partner, Hanes Brands Inc., alongside Dell, Disney, Nike, Unilever, Patagonia and others.
First announced by the Corporate Eco Forum and The Nature Conservancy at the 2011 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, The New Business Imperative details each of the 24 companies’ commitments to “demonstrate the need for business to protect and restore green infrastructure around the world including forests, fresh water and marine systems.” The report outlines four main environmental and corporate benefits of prioritizing ecosystems in business planning and investments: reduce risks, cut costs, enhance brand and reputation and fuel revenue growth.
Hanes Brands has committed to developing and commercializing the incorporation of sustainable flax fiber into select products that have traditionally been 100% cotton or cotton/poly blends, starting with Hanes socks in 2012. The apparel company will assist Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) in developing a facility that will be capable of processing a million pounds of fiber annually by 2014 and to work closely with NAT and farmers to establish an agronomic case for the introduction of flax to farmlands. Hanes Brands’ ecosystem focus is on freshwater, soil and forests through the optimization of resources.