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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Overhaul of Paper, Textile Industries Can Halt Climate, Extinction Crisis in a Decade

Canopy’s ‘Pulp Thriller’ outlines a plan to save the world’s forests and climate by replacing 50% of forest fiber from pulp manufacturing with next-generation, alternative fibers such as agricultural residues and waste cotton.

This week, from the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, international environmental conservation group Canopy launched a visionary action plan for transforming the unsustainable global paper packaging and viscose textile industries.

Survival — A Pulp Thriller outlines a plan to save the world’s forests and climate by removing 50 percent of the forest fiber from pulp manufacturing, and replacing it with next-generation alternative fibers such as agricultural residues and waste cotton textiles. According to the report, doing so will enable 30 percent of the world’s forests to be conserved by 2030.

This latest report by Canopy — which has engaged over 170 fashion brands, manufacturers and suppliers throughout the global textile chain through its CanopyStyle campaign; and developed an interactive mapping tool called ForestMapper to support companies in making better sustainability decisions when purchasing paper, packaging, lumber and/or viscose fabrics — provides a roadmap for averting the climate and biodiversity catastrophe within ten years. The IPCC has listed protection of forests, especially original forests, as critical to a safe world.
The transformation, which will cost $69 billion over the next decade, involves establishing mills that can pulp alternative fibers; introduce reduction/efficiency initiatives; and plant new, well-sited, well-managed fiber-supply forests — which in turn enable the restoration of plantations currently sited on high-carbon/biodiverse landscapes (to put this scale of investment into context, the manufacturer of Botox sold for $63 billion in 2018). The action plan outlines, in pragmatic terms, the steps that need to be taken by industries, investors and corporate buyers to safeguard more of the world’s forests. It has been developed in response to the climate crisis and extinction crisis threatening thousands of species worldwide.
“This is an action plan to shift global production of pulp, paper, packaging and viscose textiles out of Ancient and Endangered Forests and help us secure the scale of conservation that’s needed. Our brand partners want these next-generation solutions, and the technologies are ready,” said Canopy Executive Director Nicole Rycroft. “We’re thinking big, because there’s no point to doing anything less. Now is not the time for climate despair, but for transformative action; and ultimately, hope for our forests, climate, and people the world over.”

“Collaboration across supply chains, at scales beyond what has been considered before, is needed in order to address the climate and biodiversity challenges we face,” said Madelene Ericsson, Environmental Sustainability Business Expert at H&M, a member of CanopyStyle. “We welcome Canopy’s approach that breaks the action plan into components for producers, investors and corporate purchasers of pulp products.”
Maintaining healthy forests will account for one-third of what’s needed to avert the climate crisis and is critical for terrestrial biodiversity. Achieving that will require equal measures of innovation and investment.

DWS believes that protecting global biodiversity and increasing carbon sinks from forests will play an instrumental role in sequestering carbon as a climate change mitigant on a global level. Approaches like Canopy’s, targeting supply chain sustainability across the paper products and textiles industries, represent a critical component of this effort,” said Andrew Pidden, Global Head of Sustainable Investing at DWS (formerly known as Deutsche Asset Management). “DWS Group, with over 20 years of experience in impact investing, believes this represents another opportunity to deliver on circular economy-based investment solutions for corporate clients focused on minimizing their environmental footprint.”

According to Canopy’s Next-Generation Action Plan, eliminating 50 percent of wood fiber from pulp, paper, packaging and viscose will require:

  • 200 agricultural fiber pulp mills

  • 107 recycled-pulp-for-paper mills

  • 17 recycled cotton garment and/or microbial cellulose fiber-dissolving pulp mills

  • 7.5 million hectares of new forests for fiber planted on lands not prioritized for food production, habitat restoration or carbon storage

  • 16.65 million tons of consumption will be reduced through reuse and material-efficient design initiatives.

Canopy believes that this ambitious but achievable scenario provides a clear path to helping protect our planet for all life.
“Canopy’s call to action points to the essential role of the world’s forests in mitigating the climate crisis and the growing sense of urgency to prevent further loss of biodiversity,” said Lisa Morden, VP of Safety & Sustainability at Kimberly-Clark. “In alignment with Canopy’s ambitions, we are continuing the challenging work to diversify the fiber used in Kimberly-Clark’s products, including progress toward our goal to replace 50 percent of the fiber we use from natural forests with alternative sources.”