Our approach to sustainable Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres
Man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCF) are derived from natural plant materials, most commonly wood pulp. The wood pulp is processed using chemical solvents and turned into different types of MMCF such as Viscose, Rayon, Tencel and Modal. These MMCF are used in a wide range of products including clothing, textiles and hygienic products such as baby and household wipes. Viscose is the third most used fibre in the textile industry after polyester and cotton. Tesco’s F&F clothing range is our biggest use of viscose.
Viscose Sustainability Challenges
Viscose has great potential to be a sustainable fibre given it is a renewable source and its ability to biodegrade. However, the viscose industry faces two main sustainability challenges, deforestation from its sourcing of wood and pollution from the chemical processing of wood pulp into fibres.
Our Little Helps Plan includes our commitments on responsible sourcing and our environment agenda includes work on deforestation and freshwater sustainability which are the relevant to our sourcing of viscose.
Our sourcing of viscose and zero-net deforestation
As part of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Tesco has committed to achieving zero-net deforestation by 2020 in our sourcing of palm oil, soy, Brazilian beef and wood and paper products. To implement this commitment on products containing MMCF, since 2016 Tesco has been participating in the CanopyStyle initiative, which aims to eliminate the sourcing of MMCF from ancient or endangered forests. Producers in our MMCF supply chain are required to complete an annual CanopyStyle audit to verify their sourcing practices. Tesco is committed to using Canopy’s annual Hot Button report rankings to ensure that by 2020, our supply chain partners only source MMCF from producers who rank in the top two performance levels of the Hot Button matrix.
Our sourcing of viscose and freshwater sustainability
For viscose used in our F&F supply chain, we have committed to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals across the entire product life-cycle by 2020. To achieve this, F&F is a signatory member of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) initiative. As a ZDHC signatory we are helping to develop specific guidelines for MMCF producers which will be published in 2019.
Building on this, in 2017 we announced our commitment to the Greenpeace DETOX campaign. In addition to specific timelines for phasing out certain chemical groups, our individual DETOX action plan includes increased transparency about our supply chain and their wastewater testing performance.
Going beyond our direct clothing suppliers where materials like viscose are produced, in February 2018, Tesco also committed to supporting the Changing Markets Foundation’s Roadmap for responsible sourcing of viscose and modal manufacturing. We are now working with our supply chain partners to ensure that the MMCF producers we source from have developed their own action plans for meeting the requirements of the Roadmap within the set timeline.
We have developed a sourcing policy specifically for sustainable man-made cellulosic fibres sourcing in order to ensure suppliers helps us to fulfil the commitments outlined above. We have also provided tools and training sessions to support the implementation of this policy in our supply chain.
The majority of our MMCF sources are already rated as low risk in Hot Button ranking and most suppliers have publicly shared their CanopyStyle audit report. We also work with our key suppliers closely and regularly review their progress against our requirements.
We strive to support the industry transformation for more sustainable MMCF sources and we understand the need to work with other stakeholders to make the changes required. Therefore, we work collaboratively with our peers and wider industry through direct engagement and collectively advocate to raise the bar and set more ambitious goals.