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Lenzing, Birla Might Be World’s ‘Greenest’ Viscose Suppliers

Birla and Lenzing retained their “dark green” marks on CanopyStyle’s “2021 Hot Button Report,” reaffirming their “status as true leaders in the field” of man-made cellulosic fibers .

The CanopyStyle initiative demonstrates that there is no need to destroy forests to produce these fibers, often referred to as MMCFs, from trees and illustrates the wealth of next-generation alternatives and circular economy approaches that, when scaled up, can alleviate pressure on forests and tackle waste problems at the same time.

CanopyStyle, which brings together fashion’s most progressive players to ensure the planet stays environmentally sound, said this past year, the need to achieve sustainable development goals and tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss has become more urgent than ever before. The fashion sector, textile supply chains and apparel waste are vital components, the organization noted, and the sector has shown progress in addressing these imperatives, in particular in its convergence to stop the ongoing loss of the few remaining ancient and endangered forests, and recognizing the irreplaceable role forest ecosystems have in storing carbon and in nurturing and maintaining biodiversity.

In its “2021 Hot Button Report,” a ‘green shirt’ designation is based on the number of buttons allocated based on specific criteria and this ranking signals to the marketplace that these producers have met, or are on course to meeting, the requirements of these brands and retailers who are part of the CanopyStyle initiative.

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“Brand leaders are making their intentions known, with companies being very clear they now exclusively purchase their supply from ‘green shirt’ producers,” the report said.

Not resting on their light-green laurels, Jilin and Bailu earned enough buttons to attain partial-dark green shirt status, joining Eastman, ENKA, Kelheim and Sanyou, which also maintained their partial-dark green shirt ranking through proactive leadership.

Today, more than 455 global brands are looking to source from ‘green shirt’ producers, the report stated. These same brands have combined annual revenues of over $791 billion, so this demand is a driver of change.

“It has catapulted us to seeing half of the global viscose supply qualify for ‘green shirt’ status, and 74 percent of suppliers voluntarily undergoing audits to confirm and address any risk of sourcing” from ancient and endangered forests, CanopyStyle said.

Two more producers have earned a green shirt since last year’s report, bringing the total to 13. Together these green shirts continue to represent half of total global production volumes. This is significant, as CanopyStyle’s 455 brand partners are committed to only buy from green shirt producers to eliminate the use of materials from vulnerable, valuable forests.

Four producers moved out of red shirt territory, largely the result of getting audits done and acting to eliminate risk. Nine producers improved their shirt color over last year, with four jumping ahead by multiple shirt colors.

China Textile Academy is most improved, earning a full 15 buttons over last year’s score, followed by MI Demo and Acegreen, earning an additional 11.5 each, followed by Century Rayon at 10. These new players initiated their first CanopyStyle audits in the past year, and their work has quickly paid off.

This year, the Hot Button Report saw the first “green-yellow-red” shirt earned by Sateri, indicating that while significant volumes of known risk still remain in its supply chain, progress has been made in other areas.

Three producers were assigned “rainbow shirts,” signaling early-yet-active engagement. CanopyStyle said it anticipates constructive progress to be made in the coming year, including commitments to CanopyStyle-aligned sourcing policies and the initiation of CanopyStyle Audits.

Several smaller-volume producers have yet to engage with CanopyStyle, which was therefore not able to rank them. Instead, they are listed as a point of reference to provide a complete picture of the sector and assigned a “white shirt.”

“Over the years, many producers that began as white shirts have quickly climbed the ‘shirt ladder,’” CanopyStyle said. “We encourage these MMCF producers to reach out and contact us with a view to being part of Hot Button 2022.”

Next-generation solutions are a path to significantly reduce the impact of MMCFs on forest habitats and to reduce overall carbon, energy, water and chemical use, CanopyStyle noted.

“In fact, brands and retailers must prioritize designing with and procuring next generation solution MMCF’s above all else to create lasting supply chain transformation and meet the vision of ending sourcing” fashion and apparel from ancient and endangered forests, CanopyStyle said.

Canopy’s Hot Button Ranking and Report is the primary fiber sourcing analysis tool for the fashion sector that focuses on forests. This includes the CanopyStyle brands, retailers and designers that are committed to eliminating the use of Ancient and Endangered Forests in viscose and other cellulosic fabrics, and to giving preference to textiles made from innovative fibers. In the past 18 months, 200 new brands and retailers have joined the CanopyStyle initiative.