Biodiversity and Lenzing’s impacts and dependencies

[GRI 304-2; ESRS E4-5]

Biodiversity is defined in a recent report by IPCC and IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)1 as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part”. Human livelihood and wellbeing depends in many ways on the contributions from living organisms and ecosystems, as they offer services beyond nutrient cycling and can also serve as recreational areas. Without safe-guarding biodiversity and ecosystems, there is no prosperity for future generations. There are strong links between climate change, land use, pollution and biodiversity.

The World Economic Forum identifies biodiversity loss and natural resource crises as two of the top five existential threats to the economy, people, and planet in the long term (5–10 years)2. Global biodiversity loss has recently moved into the focus of the sustainability debate in many industries, including the textile and nonwoven sector.

According to the IPBES, pressures on nature leading to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions are categorized into five groups (IPBES 20193 as cited by Science-based Targets for Nature (SBNT)4):

  1. Land/water/sea use change
  2. Resource exploitation
  3. Climate change
  4. Pollution
  5. Invasive species

In the context of global biodiversity loss, the textile and apparel industry has recently become more aware of its contribution to this problem5;6. The focus is on the agricultural production of natural fibers (mainly cotton) and pollution issues related to fiber production and textile processing, although wood sourcing from forests is also seen as a potential cause of biodiversity loss. Products have potential negative impacts at the end of their life due to waste pollution in land and water ecosystems, especially via non-biodegradable materials that are leaked into the environment. Lenzing as a leading cellulose fiber manufacturer is focusing on three areas: its wood and pulp sourcing, production processes, and products’ end of use, in order to address biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity and ecosystem improvement: targets and actions proposed by the SBTN

To respond to the pressures on nature by taking positive action, the Science Based Targets for Nature Initiative introduced the Action Framework with five key types of actions: “Avoid – Reduce – Restore and Regenerate – Transform” in its Initial Guidance for Business (2020)7. This scheme was also adopted by the Textile Exchange Biodiversity Benchmark.

The AR3T framework of Science based targets for naturea

The AR3T framework of Science based targets for nature  (illustration)
a) Science-based targets for nature. Initial guidance for businesses. 2020
Framework of actions for nature, from SBTN (2020)a

Prevent impact from happening in the first place: prevent the impact entirely

Minimize impacts, but without necessarily eliminating them

Initiate or accelerate the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity, and sustainability, with a focus on permanent changes in its state

Take measures designed to increase the biophysical function and/or ecological productivity of an ecosystem or its components within existing land uses, often with a focus on a few of nature’s specific contributions to people (e.g. regenerative agriculture often focuses on carbon sequestration, food production, and nitrogen and phosphorus retention)

Take measures contributing to system-wide change, notably to alter the drivers of nature loss, e.g. through technological, economic, institutional, and social factors and changes in underlying values and behaviors

a) Science-based targets for nature. Initial guidance for businesses. 2020

1 IPBES-IPCC 2021: Scientific outcome of the IPBES-IPCC co-sponsored workshop on biodiversity and climate change

2 WEF Global Risk Report 2021

3 IPBES 2019: Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondizio, J. Settele, S. Díaz, and H. T. Ngo (editors). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. https://ipbes.net/global-assessment

4 Science-based targets for nature. Initial guidance for businesses. 2020.

5 Textile Exchange, Biodiversity Insights Report 2021. https://mci.textileexchange.org/biodiversity/insights/

6 Global Fashion Pact, Transforming the industry. 2020. https://thefashionpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/038906e111abca13dce4c77d419e4f21.pdf

7 Science-based targets for nature. Initial guidance for businesses. 2020

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