Textile Exchange and the Leather Working Group (LWG) are putting out a call to action for brands and retailers to commit to sourcing all their leather from verified deforestation-free supply chains by 2030 or earlier.
- The objective is to end deforestation as quickly as possible to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity and preserve carbon stocks to mitigate climate change.
- The intent is also to ensure that the cost of preserving forest is shared more equitably by the two ends of the supply chain and between majority and minority world countries.
- The official launch date of the programme is the International Day of Forests: 21 March 2023.
- TE and LWG want the call to action to align with the upcoming EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which is expected to be published by end of 2022.
The Strategy: To reach these objectives, the strategy is to:
- Leverage the size and power of consumer-facing leather brands to drive action in beef/leather value chains.
- Address the barriers to action: long, opaque, and complex supply chains in which leather brands have no connection with producers and cannot communicate or reward deforestation-free practices.
- Send clear signals to producers about the demand for deforestation-free leather.
- Facilitate immediate investments by brands to producers to support the preservation of forests and verification.
- Align industry actions.
- Collect and report on data to build momentum.
The Details: The call-to-action scope is bovine leather only (from cattle, primarily raised for beef production), but the two organisations are encouraging companies to extend their deforestation-free policy and commitment to other commodities at risk of being linked to deforestation.
- The call to action refers to the Accountability Framework Initiative’s definition of no deforestation. This refers to gross deforestation and prohibits both legal and illegal deforestation, including direct and indirect farms.
- Conversion is included and will be expected to be addressed in a company’s policy. However, due to the lack of data availability, monitoring methodologies and verification systems for conversion, targets will be expected to be set at a later phase.
- Brands are responsible to monitor that all their slaughterhouses in high-risk regions have third-party verification that all direct and indirect farms supplying the slaughterhouse are fully deforestation (and/or conversion) free. Brands will also be asked to have traceability along their supply chains to the slaughterhouse.
Commitment Timeline: Companies will need to meet the following targets.
- Within six months from joining the call to action: Have set up a deforestation-free leather sourcing policy; have publicised the details of its commitment to source all leather from verified deforestation-free by 2030 or earlier.
- Within one year from joining the call to action: Have begun investing in deforestation-free cattle farming.
- Within 18 months from joining the call to action: Have mapped its bovine leather supply chain to slaughter and identified the location of all slaughterhouses.
Dates and additional milestones may be added to the call to action over time.
Tools and Resources: The call-to-action toolkit (to be ready by early next year) aims to provide and reference the guidance and tools necessary for a brand to achieve deforestation-free leather sourcing by 2030. The goal is to enable brands to access all the reliable resources they need in one place, providing efficiency and alignment within the industry. The toolkit will also reference credible tools and systems needed to solve deforestation-free verification and traceability. The toolkit includes:
- Policy guidance for brands and for leather suppliers,
- Public Commitment guidance,
- SC mapping and assessment guidance,
- Workplan guidance,
- Guide on investing in DF cattle production,
- Call to Action Communication & claims guide,
- Guidance on how to communicate expectations to SH,
- Guidance on how to monitor the verification of SH,
- Guidance on traceability from SH to Brand,
- Reference to credible DF verification systems for SHs,
- Reference to credible DF verification protocols for farms.