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January 28, 2019

Chinese viscose group plans first sustainability report

By Hannah Abdulla

The Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (CV), an initiative launched by some of the world’s largest viscose producers to improve the sustainability of the sector from sourcing to production, is to release its first Sustainability Report in March.

The group says the report will detail the sustainability performance of its members, who have been tasked with developing initiatives to drive down the ecological impact of their viscose production. 

Launched in partnership with two Chinese textile trade associations – the China Chemical Fiber Industry Association and the China Cotton Textile Industry Association – CV also includes 12 other Chinese viscose producers whose businesses account for more than 50% of the global viscose production capacity.

The group met earlier this month in Beijing to exchange perspectives and recommendations with participants from the wider viscose, yarn, fashion, pulp, forestry and NGO sectors.

Viscose has a natural advantage in terms of sustainability in that it is 100% plant-based, making it fully biodegradable, as well as requiring less land and water per tonne produced compared to cotton. However, due to the large amount of chemicals required for its production and the release of waste-gas and waste-water, there are concerns about the environmental impact of its manufacturing process.

In addition, brands are increasingly concerned about the origins of raw material, including the use of wood pulp from potentially endangered or ancient forests. The Chinese government has also shut down some viscose enterprises for non-compliance with increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

Some of the issues raised at the meeting were the need for companies to promote responsible procurement and eventually form a responsible market, which will provide new impetus for future development. Supply chain management of risks – including ensuring wood-based raw materials come from sustainable sources through certification – can also help increase the fibre’s value. 

CV’s members have already set out a three-year roadmap of sustainability goals, and is now working towards its Roadmap to 2025.

It plans to release its first Sustainability Report in March this year which will summarise the sustainability performance of its members in a bid to increase transparency. Next steps to accelerate sustainable development of the textile industry will also see CV reach out to other players along the value chain, such as yarn spinners, to join its mission to close the loop when it comes to sustainable viscose production.

“The meeting concluded with a few key takeaways: firstly, transparency is the foundation for sustainable development and trust; secondly, multi-stakeholder participation and collaboration is critical; lastly, capacity building for producers. CV believes that having these in place will help create an enabling environment for the industry to achieve transformation for the industry,” the group explains.

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