‘First Global Baseline’ for Biodiversity in Fashion?: Textile Exchange’s Biodiversity Insights Report released Tuesday in partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy and Conservation International, spotlights the gaps between thought and action on nature.
As the report examines, Textile Exchange is working to establish a baseline on the industry’s biodiversity progress.
Of the 157 industry participants surveyed, 59 percent have made public commitments on biodiversity. Yet only 38 percent of companies are starting to act on regenerative practices. Fewer yet (only 14 percent of companies) know where their key raw materials are grown or extracted — a major kink to smooth out before transparency is realized.
“Nature is at the core of fashion — providing the fibers needed to clothe us, the water to dye and wash fabric, and in many cases the inspiration for design. Protecting biodiversity is in the best interest of the fashion sector,” said Bambi Semroc, senior vice president of the Center for Sustainable Lands and Waters, Conservation International, who said the report is “crucial to understanding the state of play of the fashion industry” and setting science-based sector initiatives.
Along with case studies on companies like Ralph Lauren Corp. and Levi Strauss & Co., the report identified calls to action including tracing sourcing strategies and impact back to local geography and urging players to participate in Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark program (which launched in December 2020).
New Corporate Sentiments Swarm: As governments gather to talk climate and biodiversity, corporate commitments compete for media play, while nudging world leaders.
On Tuesday, at the U.N. climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, Amazon Inc. announced it has helped mobilize $1 billion to protect the world’s tropical rainforests, as part of the Leaf Coalition, a public-private initiative to halt deforestation through financing.
Unrelated to COP26, companies more broadly unleashed a slew of sustainability news Tuesday. The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. released its fiscal 2021 social impact and sustainability report, Primark launched a circular denim line in line with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation guideposts and the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol (a pandemic-born sustainability standard for cotton) celebrated one year since its official launch.
And that’s just some of the announcements to sift through.
In an earlier news rush, more than 600 businesses penned an open letter urging G-20 country leaders to fulfill obligations outlined in the Paris Agreement. The call to action was spearheaded by a group of nonprofits under the We Mean Business Coalition, and included companies like Aldo Group, Burberry, eBay and Guess.
The reasoning is clear. “Guess wants to contribute to the global voice and to urge leaders to prioritize action on climate, we want all leaders to prioritize our world and our future,” Carlos Alberini, chief executive officer of Guess Inc., said in a statement to WWD. As is a growing standard among fashion, the company set science-based targets in line with halving its owned emissions by 2030.
Marcial Vargas-Gonzalez, innovation strategy lead at global sustainability strategy firm Quantis, said events like COP26 are “mostly political,” adding “the right messages are there, but what we are often lacking is how it translates into action….What I’ve come to realize is that most companies don’t really understand what the implications of inversing that trend or tendency is.”
In a few words: a lot of work is yet to be done.
Finance Follows Sustainability Tech: Regenerative and fiber tech are proving a boon for sustainability-minded finances.
This week, textile innovation firm Evrnu announced $15 million in Series B financing to scale its NuCycl tech (which turns textile waste into new fiber) while ReGen Ventures, an early-stage investor in regenerative technology, nabbed $50 million in funding to create a capital shift to regenerative tech space.
Dan Fitzgerald, founder and managing partner at ReGen Ventures called sustainability an “insufficient goal” in a statement, adding that “regenerative technologies go well beyond incrementally reducing harm by actively restoring ecosystem health.”
The San Francisco-based company is only one year old, but already counts Hide Biotech (cow-free leather from food waste) and Seqana (AI-driven, cost-efficient satellite farming solution) innovations in its portfolio.