M&S continues to raise the bar on transparency

M&S continues to raise the bar on transparency

Retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has added man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCF) to the list of raw materials that appears on its interactive supplier map.

The list covers fibres such as viscose, rayon, lyocell and modal, and includes details of the factory name, location, fibre type and production volume for its 23 suppliers in 7 countries. In total, the retailer says it sources 10,500 metric tons of MMCFs a year.

"We know our customers and stakeholders care about how and where their clothes are made and as a retailer committed to transparency, we're always looking to expand the map," explains Phil Townsend, technical lead for environmental sustainability.

"As part of our goal to only use responsibly sourced materials, we're focused on not only limiting the environmental impact of cellulose-based fibres like viscose, but also looking at innovative solutions to reduce our dependency on forests."

Viscose is the third most commonly used textile fibre in the world – and the third biggest raw material in M&S's Clothing & Home business.

Not only are brands and retailers are under increasing pressure to ensure the wood pulp source for their viscose is not derived from the world's ancient and endangered forests, but that the negative impacts of chemical processing and wastewater discharge and pollution are tackled too.

"Our aim at M&S is to only use responsibly sourced raw materials and where we face challenges, we're working with the wider industry and non-profit organisations to find solutions," it adds.

In 2016, the retailer was the first to transparently publish details of the 500+ factories and raw material suppliers that make M&S Clothing & Home products.

Its interactive supplier map also lists the 12 certified farms in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Uruguay where M&S sources its wool fibre.

A report released last month found that while the issue of responsible viscose production is now firmly on the fashion industry agenda, for the vast majority of brands this is yet to translate into concrete and impactful action: Brands still failing to deliver on responsible viscose sourcing.