Forests are important as carbon sinks, absorbing billions of tons of CO2 annually. However, over five billion trees are cut down yearly for paper, packaging, and fashion fabrics. Many of these cut-down forests are the world’s oldest and most carbon- and biodiversity-rich.
For over 20 years, Canopy has worked with major brands to transform unsustainable supply chains and protect forests worldwide. The company works with fashion, food and beverage, beauty and care brands, publishers and printers that have traditionally been the feed source for paper, packaging and viscose, a textile made from plant pulp. Canopy has worked with over 750 companies to develop policies eliminating sourcing from Ancient and Endangered Forests. The company has secured large-scale conservation gains in 25 million acres in forests in Indonesia, Canada’s Boreal Forest, and North America’s Temperate Rainforests. Canopy has become one of the most effective not-for-profit environmental organizations utilizing companies to protect endangered forests.
The company recently announced it would receive $60 million in funding from the Audacious Project to catalyze the commercial production of low-carbon and circular solutions across the globe. The Audacious Project is a collaborative funding initiative housed at TED that drives social impact on a large scale. Every year they select a group of solutions working to solve the world’s most urgent challenges.
Canopy will use this funding to develop more sustainable sourcing practices that move away from the dependence on ancient and endangered forests. Their Next-Generation materials for fabrics, paper and packaging are supposed to be low-impact environmentally, deriving from food, agriculture and textile wastes. According to the company, the Next Gen alternatives have, on average, 95% to 130% less greenhouse gas emissions, use 88% to 100% less land, and have a lower impact on biodiversity over five times.
Canopy is working to connect with its network of well-known brands with sustainable material innovators. Some of these materials include Renewcell, which has developed a process for turning cotton fabric waste into viscose (one of the most popular textile materials). Spinnova uses agricultural fibres such as wheat to create textiles, and 9Fiber uses agri-waste to create packing products without petroleum or timber. The funding from the Audacious Project will help these startups scale up their supply chains as the demand for low-impact fibres is currently outweighing the supply.
By 2033, Canopy hopes to eliminate the use of Ancient and Endangered forests, divert nearly 800 million tonnes of agricultural residue and waste textiles from being burned or sent to the landfill, and create over 60 000 000 tonnes of low-carbon NextGen fibre production.
Canopy is working with some of the world’s largest brands to help reduce their impact on the planet. The Audacious Project’s funding will help them invest in sustainable materials and practices and move away from forest dependence. Canopy’s efforts will be necessary for other companies looking to reduce their environmental impact.