Our approach to sustainable Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres

Last updated 31.01.2020

Context

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 Approach

Our Little Helps Plan includes commitments on responsible sourcing and our environment agenda includes work on deforestation and freshwater sustainability that are both relevant to the 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 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 our supply chain partners only source MMCF from producers who are ranked green and considered low risk in the CanopyStyle audit.

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 supporting to develop MMCF responsible production guidelines that will be published in early 2020.

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.

Progress

We have developed a sourcing policy specifically for sustainable MMCF in order to ensure our suppliers are able to help us 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 is already sourced through low risk suppliers as ranked in Canopy’s annual Hot Button report  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.   In 2019, we published our key MMCF producer list in our website. We have also strengthened the traceability capacity of our MMCF supply chain, both through working with our two key suppliers (Lenzing and Aditya Birla), in addition to the piloting of a new MMCF traceability platform.

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 raising the bar and setting more ambitious goals through the MMCF Brand Roundtable Group.  We aim to continue strengthening the collaboration and engagement of wider stakeholders in the industry.