Two of the world's largest fashion companies, H&M and Inditex, have set out new sourcing commitments to ensure the rayon and viscose fabrics used in their clothes is not derived from ancient and endangered forests.

They are working with environmental organisation Canopy, which has produced research that suggests threatened forests are routinely making their way into rayon, viscose, modal and other trademarked fabrics.

The forests are being cut down, pulped and spun into suit jacket linings, dresses, skirts, T-shirts and tank tops, the group says.

It is especially alarmed that the dissolving pulp/viscose industry is poised for ambitious expansion and poses an increasing risk to threatened forest ecosystems around the world.  

"We are fully committed to exploring our supply chain and doing our utmost to avoid these fabrics within the next three years", said Henrik Lampa, environmental sustainability manager at H&M.

He said the company would also take the additional step of "encouraging leaders throughout the supply chain to support conservation in endangered forests and use alternative inputs, for example recycled clothing, so our actions create lasting change."

As well as Inditex/Zara and H&M, companies including Loomstate, Eileen Fisher, Quiksilver and 17 other brands and designers are supporting Canopy's "Fashion Loved by Forest" initiative which is tackling supply-chain transparency specific to forest-fabric sourcing.

Last year, an estimated 70m trees were cut for fabric production, with this number projected to double in the next 20 years. 

For more insight into this issue, click on the following link: Concerns grow over fibre sourcing from forests