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Man-made cellulosic fibres are derived from plants, most often trees, that are processed into pulp before being extruded into a fibre. The most common man-made cellulosic fibre is viscose, but this group also contains lyocell, modal and cupro and acetate. Characterised by their excellent breathability and drape, man-made cellulosic fibres account for around 6% of global fibre production volume, according to the Textile Exchange. Their production volume doubled between 1990 and 2018 and is expected to grow further.

The sourcing of man-made cellulosic fibres can leave a significant environmental and social footprint. Approximately 150 million trees are logged annually to produce the feedstock for viscose fibre, according to Canopy. Avoiding forest loss and degradation is imperative in reducing carbon emissions, preserving biodiversity and maintaining critical services to local communities. You can find out more about our approach to protecting forests here.

Secondly, transforming wood pulp into a fibre requires several manufacturing steps of intensive water, chemical and energy use. The manufacture of man-made cellulosic fibres uses potentially hazardous chemicals, which if managed improperly can be harmful to both human health and the environment.


Approach

Man-made cellulosics are an important material group to M&S Clothing and Home, we source around 11,000 tonnes of fibre per year for our products. Since 2015, we have been working to address the impacts of sourcing these fibres. Find out more about our journey below.

Establishing and maintaining clear minimum sourcing standards
Setting minimum standards for responsible sourcing of Man-made Cellulosic Fibres

In 2010, we committed to zero deforestation in all M&S products. In 2015, we partnered with Canopy and released our ‘Protecting Forests Through Fabric Choices’ commitment, working with other brands to help Canopy map the global supply chain of man-made cellulosic fibre producers. We mapped our own supply chain and in 2018 published our first policy for the responsible sourcing of man-made cellulosic fibres, which introduced minimum sourcing principles to address the environmental and social impact of this fibre group in both raw material sourcing and production. 

We are committed to achieving greater supply chain transparency and, where appropriate, traceability of our key raw material sources. In 2019, we published the locations of our man-made cellulosic fibre suppliers on our interactive map. We update this map annually in line with the annual review of our policy.

Read our MMCF Responsible Sourcing Policy here.

Sourcing more sustainable Man-made Cellulosic Fibres
In addition to our minimum responsible sourcing policy, we also recognise some man-made cellulosic fibres as ‘sustainably sourced’, for their demonstration of elevated environmental performance and traceability.


Viscose

LENZINGTM ECOVEROTM

Derived from renewable wood from sustainably managed forests. The production of these viscose fibres is EU Eco Label certified, generating up to 50% lower emissions and water impact compared to generic viscose. The fibre has an inbuilt tracker, providing traceability in the final product.

Aditya Birla LivaEco

Derived from renewable wood from sustainably managed forests.  The production of these viscose fibres is in line with EU Best Available Technique manufacturing and the fibre is traceable through end to end blockchain technology and an inbuilt tracker.

Lyocell

Lenzing TENCELTM Lyocell 

Derived from renewable wood from sustainably managed forests. The fibre manufacturing process recycles water and reuses the low toxicity solvent with a recovery rate of over 99%, resulting in a fibre with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. 

Aditya Birla Excel

Derived from 100% certified wood from sustainably managed forests. The fibre manufacturing process reuses the low toxicity solvent with a recovery rate of over 99%, resulting in a fibre with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. 

Lenzing TENCELTM Lyocell with REFIBRATM technology

Derived from recycled cotton scraps and wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. The fibre manufacturing process recycles water and reuses the low toxicity solvent with a recovery rate of over 99%, resulting in a fibre with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. 

Modal

Lenzing TENCELTM Modal

Derived from renewable beech wood from sustainably managed forests. The environmentally responsible integrated pulp-to-fibre process is self-sufficient in energy and recovers co-products from component parts of the wood. 

Acetate

Eastman NaiaTM

Derived from renewable wood from sustainably managed forests. This fibre has safe and environmentally sound chemical use and has a low impact manufacturing process through dry spinning and a closed-loop process.


Supporting market transformation through working with industry partners, standard setting organisations and other stakeholders
Canopy

We’ve been partnered with Canopy since 2015, a non-profit who use direct purchasing power and market leverage to protect forests, species and climate. We’re committed to working with industry and civil society partners to spark a shift to more sustainable supply chain practices that ensure protection of the world's remaining ancient and endangered forests and endangered species habitat. 

As a proud partner of the CanopyStyle Initiative, we’re committed to:

  • End the sourcing from ancient and endangered forests, endangered species habitat and controversial sources 
  • Support lasting conservation solutions
  • Promote the use of next generation alternative feedstocks that have a reduced environmental footprint, such as recycled textiles and agricultural residues from food production

We’re also part of the CanopyStyle Leaders for Forest Conservation Group, providing vision, strategic insights, inspiration and active leadership for our world’s forests.

You can learn more in our MMCF Responsible Sourcing Policy.

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals

M&S are engaged in the Roadmap to Zero Programme, operated by the ZDHC. The ZDHC solutions and platforms include the newly released ZDHC Man-made Cellulosic Fibre (MMCF) Guidelines

The ZDHC MMCF Guidelines outline integrated expectations for discharge wastewater quality, emissions to air, and chemical recovery for manufacturing facilities producing man-made cellulosic fibres. Through a three-level (foundational, progressive, aspirational) approach for the limit values and/or recovery rates of the proposed parameters, facilities can implement a driven, continuous improvement plan to reduce their impacts.

In April 2020, Marks and Spencer adopted these ZDHC tools within its Man-Made Cellulosic Fibre Responsible Sourcing Policy and we’re working with our supply chain partners to implement them.



Changing Markets

The Changing Markets Foundation was formed to create and support campaigns that shift market share away from unsustainable product and companies and towards environmentally and socially beneficial solutions. Following the report ‘Dirty Fashion’ in 2017, which highlighted the environmental and health impacts of the viscose and modal supply chains, M&S became a signatory brand of the Changing Markets ‘Roadmap towards responsible viscose and modal fibre manufacturing’.

Working with others

Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business. 

We are working with a number of industry and civil society organisations to tackle many of the challenges faced in the man-made cellulosic fibre sector. Outlined in more detail above, these include Canopy, the Textile Exchange, the ZDHC and The Changing Markets Foundation.