Major retail industry players including H&M, luxury brand holding company Kering and Zara parent company Inditex have agreed to purchase 550,000 metric tons of sustainable alternatives to materials sourced from ancient and endangered forests.
Every year, more than 3.2 billion trees are cut down to produce fiber for packaging and clothing, releasing vast amounts of CO2. However, wood alternatives such as agricultural residues and recycled textiles are available and can be scaled to prevent logging these forests at an untenable rate.
Spearheaded by environmental nonprofit Canopy and announced at the COP27 climate summit taking place in Egypt through Nov. 18, 2022, these more sustainable lower-carbon alternatives, known as Next Generation Solutions, produce on average:
- 95% to 130% less CO2 emissions;
- 18% to 70% less fossil energy resource depletion;
- 88% to 100% fewer land-use impacts; and
- At least 5X lower impact on biodiversity/threatened species.
Other companies joining these purchase commitments — which are vital to attracting the necessary investment to scale up use of these alternatives on ecologically meaningful timelines — include Ben & Jerry’s, Stella McCartney and media company HH Global.
This initial round of purchase commitments will help unlock the investments needed to build 10 to 20 new low-footprint Next Generation pulp mills; provide farm communities and cities with new markets to replace burning straw and textile landfilling; and prevent an estimated 2.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from going into the atmosphere relative to the equivalent product of virgin forest fiber.
“This commitment will allow us to take a historical leap closer to the $64 billion of investments in sustainable alternatives needed to ensure forest conservation for our planet’s climate and biodiversity stability,” said Nicole Rycroft, Founder and Executive Director of Canopy in a statement.
“Innovative low-carbon solutions such as regenerated cellulosic fibers 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,” said Madelene Ericsson, Environmental Sustainability Business Expert at H&M Group in a statement. “These next generation solutions and collaborations like Canopy’s help us take strong steps toward our goal for all our materials to be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030.”
“I am proud to say we have been partnering with Canopy since 2014 and have been a zero-deforestation brand since 2017, never sourcing from ancient, endangered or protected forests,” said Stella McCartney in a statement. “We must take action today in order to protect our forests for tomorrow.”