Fashion firms must turn the spotlight on biodiversity conservation as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and work to improve the impacts their raw material choices have on nature if they are to truly build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, writes GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Beth Wright, Apparel Correspondent for GlobalData, says: “An increasing number of fashion firms are beginning to realise the importance of safeguarding biodiversity, yet much more work remains if the industry is truly going to move the needle post-pandemic. The crisis has acted as a catalyst for many industry players to make bold new sustainability pledges amid a new breed of more responsible consumers.”
The apparel sector is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss, according to McKinsey & Company, which notes the industry’s supply chains are directly linked to soil degradation, conversion of natural ecosystems, and waterway pollution.
A number of steps have, however, recently been taken to tackle fashion’s onslaught on nature. French luxury goods group Kering published its first dedicated biodiversity strategy this summer, outlining a set of commitments to minimise biodiversity loss across its global supply chains and create net positive conservation. While Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), a vertically integrated producer of viscose rayon, recently updated its Follow Our Fibre blockchain solution to include an overview of its suppliers’ conservation and biodiversity efforts.
Biodiversity is also spotlighted in the Fashion Pact, a coalition aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the apparel industry.
More recently, a new Biodiversity Benchmark tool has launched to help the fashion and textile industry understand – and improve – the impacts its raw material choices have on nature. The new Biodiversity tool is part of non-profit Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark (CFMB) programme, and has been developed with The Biodiversity Consultancy and Conservation International with support from biobased materials provider Sappi.
Wright adds: “These are all steps in the right direction and it seems the industry is beginning to understand the importance of safeguarding nature but, going forward, it needs more actionable tools to help players better understand how their businesses impact biodiversity, and indeed how to minimise and guard against further loss. Policymakers must come together worldwide to draft legislation regarding such safeguarding of nature, with punitive measures for those that fail to comply.”