New research has shed light on the negative contribution of fast fashion brands and design houses to the destruction of the environment. Released on Monday, the study by STAND.earth named the many brands which are at high risk of contributing to the largest scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest owing to their links with leather suppliers and tanneries.
The study, based on nearly 500,000 rows of custom data, stated that 6.7 million hectares (16.5 million acres) of forests were lost in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest biome over the last decade (2011-2020), according to government data. It attributes JBS, the largest beef/leather company in Brazil as one of the largest contributors of deforestation in the Amazon.
“All companies sourcing directly from JBS or indirectly from JBS via leather processors are therefore linked to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest,” the report said.
“Furthermore, these studies also show that while JBS is the largest leather exporter and the most implicated in deforestation, this problem is endemic of the entire Brazilian leather industry — not just JBS. This includes other tannery companies like Minerva and Fuga Couros,” it added.
The extensive data also revealed the hidden supply chains linking 100 shoe and fashion brands to Amazon rainforest deforestation with multiple as well as single connections to deforestation leather, with the former bearing the highest risk. Brands like Zara, Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Puma, H&M, LVMH, Prada, Guess, Coach, and Calvin Klein feature on this list, amongst others. Ted Baker, Maison Margiela, Georgio Armani, Charles & Keith, and Decathlon are reported to have single connections to the Amazon deforestation.
The report, which identified the brands participating in the Leather Working Group, stated that “each individual connection is not absolute proof that any one brand uses deforestation leather, it demonstrates that many brands are at very high risk of driving the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.” The Leather Working Group is capable of tracing the tanneries back to the slaughterhouse, and not to the farm.
These findings directly contradict and challenge the policies recently announced by a number of brands included in the survey against sourcing leather from deforestation, including Nike, Adidas, LVMH, and Puma, thereby “potentially breaching their own policies”, while some have no relevant policies in place at all.
For instance, earlier this year, LVMH, one of the ‘high risk’ brands contributing to Amazon’s destruction, pledged to protect this ecologically vulnerable region along with UNESCO.