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Over 300 Million Trees Logged Annually for Viscose: Canopy’s Mission for Sustainable Textiles

The global fashion industry faces mounting criticism for its environmental impact, particularly its significant role in deforestation. Every year, over 300 million trees are logged to produce cellulosic fabrics like viscose, with ancient forests in Indonesia, Canada, and Brazil suffering the most.

Environmental non-profit Canopy is leading the charge to transform supply chains through its CanopyStyle initiative. The organization collaborates with fashion brands, retailers, and viscose producers to develop alternatives that protect endangered forests.

One promising avenue for sustainability is the development of “Next Generation Solutions.” These innovative fabrics are made from recycled textiles and agricultural waste, potentially revolutionizing the industry’s environmental footprint. According to Canopy, these alternatives use 75 percent less energy and up to 90 percent less water than conventional wood-based fabrics, and they incorporate greener chemicals in production.

Several major producers of Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres (MMCF) are already embracing these technologies. However, scaling up remains a significant challenge. Canopy has proposed an ambitious ten-year action plan to remove 50 percent of wood fiber from the pulp used in paper and MMCF supply chains by 2030.

“Deforestation continues to be a problem,” Nicole Rycroft, founder of Vancouver-based Canopy, told The Guardian. “It’s 2024 – surely we are smarter than mowing down 1,000-year-old trees to make T-shirts.”

As consumer awareness grows and regulatory pressures increase, the fashion industry stands at a crucial juncture. Adopting these sustainable alternatives could preserve critical forest habitats, offer new revenue streams for farmers, and reduce textile waste in landfills.

The industry’s ability to pivot towards these innovative solutions will likely shape its future sustainability credentials and market positioning in an increasingly eco-conscious global market. The move towards sustainable fashion not only promises to protect ancient forests but also to create a more responsible and resilient industry.

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