Retailers speed up shift to alternative fibres at COP27


Leading retailers announced a collective commitment to purchase over half a million tonnes of low-carbon, low-footprint alternative fibres for fashion textiles and paper packaging.

The announcement by 30 retailers coincides with the COP27 climate discussions currently taking place in Egypt until November 18 to improve plans to curb global warming.

Fashion accounts for about 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to World Bank figures.

Global emissions have continued to increase even as temperatures reached record levels this year.

A U.N. report in October showed emissions were likely to rise 10.6 per cent by 2030 from 2010 levels.

Retailers agreed to purchase 550,000 tonnes of alternative, forest-free fibres — made from waste textiles and agricultural residues instead of forest fibres — which will prevent the release of around 2.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental nonprofit Canopy, which convened the group, said.

Over 3.2 billion trees are cut down every year to produce fibre for packaging and clothing. Moving to low carbon alternatives could help the industry to avoid almost a giga tonne of CO2 emissions between now and 2030, according to Canopy.

Nicole Rycroft, Canopy founder, said: “This is about to kickstart the transition from a millennia of extractive supply chains, the logging of trees into pulp and the manufacturing of clothing from viscose [before they end up in] landfill,” reports Zawya.

Lower carbon fibres make up a tiny fraction of the 7.5 million tonnes of man-made fibres produced each year, which Rycroft said was in part because of the challenge of accessing finance to scale new technologies.

The agreement will help to unlock finance for 10 to 20 low footprint pulp mills to produce these alternative fibres by securing offtake agreements from retailers, Canopy said.

Clothing company Inditex has committed to using 100 per cent sustainable cellulosic fibres by 2023. 

M&S aims to source 100 per cent green rated man-made cellulosic fibres by 2025.