Where are we in the fight to save our forests?
Mid-point evaluation of CanopyStyle
17 November 2020
Protecting ancient and endangered forests through a collaborative approach with industry brands and the world's top 10 largest viscose producers. The aim is to motivate and support companies to establish better policies and for viscose producers to audit supply chains and move to alternative circular fibres.
To get up to 140 brands to honour their endangered forest protection commitments by March 2023, to engage their viscose suppliers, promote conservation and prioritise innovative next generation fabrics and circular economy solutions
To have 15 viscose producers with formal CanopyStyle policies in place by March 2023, with at least 75% of these undergoing annual CanopyStyle audits
To conserve or have under moratorium for logging between 1.5 to 5 million hectares of additional high carbon and biodiversity forests by March 2023
To achieve a target of 40% of global viscose containing 50% circular economy fibres and/or waste fibres from other processes by 2023
To have straw, recycled clothing and other useful materials make up 10-30% of the raw materials used to make viscose fabrics by 2025
Investment: EUR 2.16 million
Duration: 2016-2019 - ongoing until 2023
Geographic region: Global
CanopyStyle has used science-based arguments to spur clothing brands, retailers and viscose producers into action – to get them more committed to cleaner and more sustainable viscose supply chains:
- CanopyStyle has analysed industry trends and has authored an evidence-based argument on viscose production, strengthening relationships with a wide set of organisations (brands, retailers, viscose producers, public agencies and the environmental movement). The initiative's integrated approach involves creating a shared understanding with brands to initiate change in the viscose supply chain and then sharing this message with producers, finding tools to monitor forest-friendly supply chain behaviours, aiming to widen fibre alternatives and consumer messaging through brands. In an e-survey sent during the evaluation, 87% of respondents reported that a multi-pronged approach was the right way to move the viscose supply chain in support of protecting the world’s forests
- The initiative has been able to address the complexities of the forest-to-fibre segment of the viscose supply chain due to its specific focus. The myopic view on sourcing has, however, prevented work on damaging practices in the supply chain. Another problem is the lack of advocacy work aimed at consumers
At the grant mid-term, more brands/retailers had CanopyStyle policies in place - significantly exceeding targets , however forest commitments were being implemented at uneven levels
- CanopyStyle requires commitments on sourcing practices that avoid ancient or endangered forest systems and resolutions to promote adoption of circular fibre alternatives. Brands/retailers implementing CanopyStyle policies cover a diversity of organisations in terms of their size, and include fast fashion and boutique names. At the end of the first year of the current contract, CanopyStyle reported 191 brands and retailers implementing CanopyStyle policies (at the time of the mid-point evaluation this number was 202), with 67 policy holders having circular fibre targets in place. In both cases, the 2023 targets have been exceeded
- However, CanopyStyle's focus has been limited to global retailers and brands originating from Europe and North America leaving a significant and untapped segment of Chinese and Indian companies using viscose in apparel manufacturing
- CanopyStyle's monitoring has suggested that not all organisations are acting with equal purpose regarding their commitments and this could turn into a potential disincentive to producers aiming to meet demands for sustainably sourced viscose
CanopyStyle plays a significant role in helping brands implement their policies, but more needs to be done to increase the target of total land area under formal protection
- CanopyStyle is influential in getting brand participants to implement their policies. The independent CanopyStyle audit and Hot Button scoring system has been important in reforming and transforming the supply chain. ForestMapper is also a satisfactory information tool and is moving towards being positioned as a sourcing tool
- So far, brand engagement in ancient and endangered forest conservation is limited to a core of committed brands. The initiative needs to secure more total land area under formal protection as per its ambitious targets. It is challenging to communicate with brands more directly regarding landscape protection/ conservation work and brand willingness appears hinged on the proximity of the brands’ supply chains to those landscapes
- Various organisations have indicated high levels of trust in CanopyStyle. Its approach towards brands, producers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has also received positive feedback
What did we learn?
Laudes Foundation is encouraged by the interim results
- The value of the collaboration is increased due to the selection of partners that have a clear and targeted focus and are highly aligned to the foundation's vision and mission
- Supporting an initiative that is solutions oriented in linking the fashion industry to forests has proved to lead to strong emerging results
- Stable partnerships between funders and partners allow for planning multi-year systems change work through both funding security and addressing organisational development needs of partners. The effectiveness and sustainability of initiatives and projects are amplified when organisational support is provided
For Partners & Others
- Maintaining network relationships is time intensive. Therefore, forming new engagements after alignment assessments can help in charting organisational mission compatibility and skills that are then further calibrated to changes occurring over time
- Bringing on board the largest producers first and early on significantly catalysed the recruitment of other producers
- Specific drivers of results include supportive national level government policies, market opportunities by differentiating services for sustainability conscious brand/ retailer marketplace and reinforcing messages from the fashion media and environmental groups
- More transparency in the viscose supply chain, as well as finding innovative means of tracking fibre from its source to the viscose mill and ultimately to the garment stage is to be encouraged.