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Canopy, Rainforest Alliance Launch First-Ever Audit for Rayon-Viscose Supply Chain

Image Credit: Rainforest Action Network

Cotton is often king in discussions surrounding the creation of a more sustainable apparel industry, yet over 120 million trees are felled every year — 30 percent of which originate from ancient and endangered forests — to produce textiles such as viscose and rayon.

The CanopyStyle initiative was launched in 2013 by environmental non-profit Canopy to encourage global brands, designers and retailers to protect these valuable natural resources by adopting sustainable sourcing policies and producing fabrics and textiles derived from lower-impact fibers such as straw and recycled fabrics.

Taking its commitment to transforming the environmental footprint of the rayon and viscose supply chain to the next level, Canopy, in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, has developed the CanopyStyle Audit, a new comprehensive and independently verified auditing system for global viscose and rayon producers to assess their risk of sourcing from endangered forests. The findings will help brands know what level of risk there is of their fabrics originating from ancient and endangered forests, like those of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem or Canada’s Boreal.

Lenzing, the world’s largest producer of viscose, is the first to undergo the audit. The audit uses a risk-based approach and requires verifiable evidence that wood and pulp used by Lenzing for the production of fabric and fibers fulfill a robust verification framework and audit process that was developed by Canopy and the Rainforest Alliance.

“Canopy welcomes these first audit results as a key milestone on the CanopyStyle path to end the use of endangered forests in fabrics,” said Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director of Canopy. “These audits are a learning tool for producers and an instrument for Canopy and our 100 brand partners in assessing risk within the rayon-viscose supply chain.”

The results of the audit confirmed that Lenzing’s supply chains are at low risk for sourcing from ancient and endangered forests, excluding small volumes of trial materials.  The audit also demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the company’s supply chain structure and the geography of all dissolving wood pulp manufacturers, as well as a strong commitment to the company policy to avoid sourcing from ancient and endangered forests.

“The Rainforest Alliance is proud to participate in this important initiative that matches our mission to conserve biodiversity and help ensure sustainable livelihoods,” stated Richard Donovan, Senior VP of Rainforest Alliance and VP of Forestry.

“Our role includes serving as the trusted auditor, helping drive the sustainable use of non-timber forest elements in fashion and independently evaluating Lenzing’s progress. We conduct field evaluations, analyze and report on the progress required, and deliver audit results that are a snapshot in time, highlighting commitments met and areas for improvements.”

Armed with this new information, Lenzing will continue to work with CanopyStyle Pathway to improve existing processes and is developing a scheme to include Rainforest Alliance and Canopy into risk assessment of new supply chains.

Additionally, to improve their annual audit results, the report suggests Lenzing:

  • Collect more specific data on the forest of origin of the materials being received
  • Build on existing chain of custody and certified material sources to include certification claims on supporting sales and delivery documentation
  • Continue producing products containing recycled content and progressively forward the use of closed loop fibres
  • Apply the sourcing policy and systems to all trial materials
  • Pass along forest of origin and certification claims to customers

“Lenzing is proud to be a proactive member in the CanopyStyle initiative. Our leadership is re-affirmed by completing this third-party verified audit of our wood and pulp sourcing,” said Stefan Doboczky, CEO of the Lenzing Group. “These audit findings are of great value, offering us insights and confirming our path to continue innovating on closed-loop sourcing and offering our customers even more sustainable products.”


Libby MacCarthy is an Editorial Assistant at Sustainable Brands, based in Maine and France. She is a former urban planner specializing in sustainable cities, and an urban farming and film photography enthusiast. She holds a BA in Environment, Society and… [Read more about Libby MacCarthy]