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New Plan Guides Cellulosic Sector Toward Sustainable Circularity

Key industry players and stakeholders in the man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCF) value chain have revealed an ambitious shared vision for unleashing the fibers’ untapped potential for building resilience in the global textile industry.

Created with co-convenors Forum for the Future and Textile Exchange, MMCF 2030 Vision outlines how the sector can take the lead in transforming the textile and apparel sectors, while building on existing standards and the progress already being driven by existing industry initiatives to address specific social and environmental issues.

It calls on businesses and industry actors from apparel and personal care brands to fiber producers to align behind its goals and act collaboratively to build a resilient industry that helps to simultaneously regenerate society and planetary health. The organizers noted that MMCF–including viscose, modal and lyocell–is the second-biggest cellulosic fiber group after cotton and holds the potential to contribute to advance circular fashion, regenerate ecosystems, unlock vital carbon sinks, and bolster community resilience and prosperity.

The MMCF 2030 Vision sets out five interrelated areas for ambitious and collaborative action along the entire life cycle to help move the sector forward at the pace and scale needed and stimulate new kinds of partnerships and investment.

These actions are “regenerating ecosystems” by ensuring a carbon negative value chain and taking regenerative landscape approaches; “producing with zero harm” by managing chemicals and other inputs, zero emissions and closed-loop production systems; “enabling circular systems” through designing, incentivizing and implementing circular value chains and zero waste; “creating prosperity” by distributing economic value equitably through applying a living wage and providing universal access to education and healthcare; and “upholding rights” through community empowerment and protecting the rights of individuals, indigenous peoples and other communities.

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The groups said the vision is launched at a time when COVID-19 is hitting the MMCF sector considerably. This makes the shared vision even more important to guide the industry as it emerges from the crisis in a way that will build industry resilience and reduce the likelihood of future disruptions.

“The MMCF sector is facing significant social and environmental challenges, including deforestation, chemical use and labor rights,” Dr. Sally Uren, CEO at Forum for the Future, said. “The current COVID-19 crisis is intensifying these challenges. While progress is being made on traceability, innovation and sourcing practice, opportunities for deeper, systemic change are being lost in the absence of a holistic approach to addressing these interrelated challenges within the full value chain.

“By aligning behind a shared vision for a resilient and sustainable industry, the MMCF industry could lead the transformation of the apparel and textile sector, as well as make a positive contribution to other industries that source this versatile fiber,” Uren added.

The vision with its five components and enablers will be taken forward by the industry and facilitated through the Textile Exchange MMCF Round Table. Industry stakeholders will convene in early November for various initiatives to give updates on progress on the vision, and participants will identify the critical innovation areas that need to be taken forward collectively.

“Textile Exchange has seen the industry make great strides in our nearly 20 years of operation, but we know it still has a long way to go,” said LaRhea Pepper, managing director for Textile Exchange. “2020 is kicking off a decade of change and the launch of the MMCF Vision is a big driver of the change that is needed. We must reduce carbon emissions from fiber and material production by 2030. Textile Exchange has adopted a Climate+ Strategy to accomplish this and increasing the uptake of preferred man-made cellulosic fibers is part of the solution.”

The MMCF 2030 Vision was built through an extensive participative process engaging more than 50 stakeholders from more than 40 organizations representing views from across the MMCF value chain. It is not intended as a formal commitment document or standard against which organizations will be measured, but instead seeks to serve as a set of guiding principles to inform how existing standards and practices must move at an accelerated pace.

Forum for the Future is an international sustainability non-profit with offices in London, New York, Singapore and Mumbai, specializing in addressing critical global challenges by catalyzing change in key systems.

A global non-profit, Textile Exchange develops, manages and promotes a suite of leading industry standards, as well as collects and publishes critical industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage and track their use of preferred fibers and materials.