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World’s Largest Supplier of Rayon Commits to Sustainable Sourcing

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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Sustainable fashion lovers have something to cheer about. Aditya Birla, global maker of viscose fibers, better known as rayon, has a new fiber sourcing policy. It’s a policy that seeks to embed sustainable sourcing into company’s supply chain. The main aim of the new policy is to stop sourcing from ancient and endangered forests. The world’s largest producer of viscose, the company makes about 20 percent of the world’s supply which is manufactured from wood pulp.

The fiber sourcing policy states that the company will “implement its best efforts” to avoid sourcing and trading wood fiber that has been harvested illegally, in violation of civil rights, from uncertified high conservation value forests, from plantations, and harvested from ancient and endangered forests. Aditya Birla’s fiber sourcing policy applies to wood and pulp sourcing for all its mills.

“We’re committed to avoiding any endangered forest fibre in our products and are excited to help drive innovation in the development of fabrics made from new fibres that reduce the pressure on the world’s natural forests”, said Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, in a statement. “We and many of our customers in the fashion industry are equally committed to developing sustainable business solutions that help conserve forests and species.”

Aditya Birla worked with Canopy, a forestry nonprofit, to develop the sourcing guidelines. Canopy collaborates with 700+ companies on timber sourcing policies.

“Aditya Birla’s global forest sourcing criteria sets a high bar for all other producers to meet,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s founder and executive director. “We’re very excited to continue our collaborative work with the Aditya Birla team as we help them translate this bold policy into action.”
The pulp production sector continues to grow by about 10 percent per year, according to Canopy’s report, A Snapshot of Change. If the sector continues to grow at that pace, total global production will more than double within the next decade. A good share of dissolving pulp goes into clothing production. Presently, 10 major man-made cellulosic fiber producers provide about 80 percent of the global supply of viscose fiber.

The good news is that sustainably sourcing pulp is becoming a trend in the clothing sector. In 2013, Canopy launched the Fashion Loved by Forest initiative. Since the launch of the campaign, over 25 clothing companies representing over $75 billion in annual sales have made commitments to sourcing sustainably and protecting the world’s forests. These companies include H&M and Zara/Inditex, the world’s largest clothing brands. Both brands have made commitments to stop sourcing from endangered forests by 2017. Other brands have made similar commitments, including Stella McCartney, Levi Strauss & Co. and Marks & Spencer.

Photo: Flickr/Dejan H.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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