Research and Development

The Lenzing Group reorganized its innovation activities in 2023. The product development and product applications area has been divided into the areas of textile fibers and nonwoven fibers, while basic research activities and process developments are combined within a central area. This enables the company to respond to different market requirements to an even greater degree.

For this reason, key innovation indicators can only be compared with previous years to a limited extent. A total of 222 people were employed in the Group’s various research and development areas as of the end of 2023 (compared to 218 employees as of the end of 2022). Research and development expenditures calculated according to the Frascati method (after the deduction of grants) amounted to EUR 31.6 mn (compared with EUR 34.8 mn in 2022). The Lenzing Group’s products and technologies were protected by 1,351 patents and patent applications (from 163 patent families) in 50 countries as of the end of 2023.

Focus areas in 2023

In addition to the clear focus on customers and consumers, sustainability is a key guiding principle for all of the Lenzing Group’s innovation activities, including process and product development, with a particular focus on recycling and the circular economy. Almost all of the development projects reflect key aspects of environmental sustainability and support the ambitious target of net zero by 2050. These especially include projects to close production cycles and reduce wastewater emissions, as well as to enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Textile recycling formed a further focus of the Lenzing Group’s research and development activities in 2023. The transformation of the textile business model from a linear to a circular economy model requires cooperative approaches along the entire value chain. Lenzing also works with partners outside the traditional textile value chain, such as sorting and recycling companies. The partnership with Swedish pulp producer Södra, which is focusing intensively on developing the recycling of used textile and the construction of a pilot plant, features as a flagship project in the textile recycling area. The European Union is supporting the project with funding of EUR 10 mn as part of its LIFE program.1 Lenzing and Södra were awarded this funding in 2023 for the LIFE TREATS project.2

Lenzing was also increasingly active at the European level in the reporting year in fostering further cooperation in the context of funded projects. For example, Lenzing is a partner in the Horizon Europe CISUTAC (Circular and Sustainable Textiles and Clothing) project, which was launched last year, and in the ESCIB project, which was approved in 2023 and launched in January 2024. This entails the development of methods to assess the ecological sustainability and recyclability of industrial biobased systems, to which Lenzing is contributing a case study.

Lenzing was also involved as a leading partner in a submission for the further development and application development of TENCEL™ LUXE filaments in 2023.

With the expansion of its REFIBRA™ technology to include LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibers, Lenzing also set new standards in the textile industry in terms of product development during the reporting year. The new viscose fibers embodying REFIBRA™ technology contain up to 20 percent post-consumer textile waste, which derives from cellulose-rich materials or polyester-cotton blends. With the successful development and scaling of production, LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibers with REFIBRA™ technology are now available to customers worldwide.

Moreover, Lenzing presented a new product solution for hygiene products with its LENZING™ Lyocell Dry fibers, which until now could only be achieved by using synthetic fibers. The hydrophobic cellulose fibers feature the innovative property of conducting liquids on their surface. They are not classified as “plastic” under the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive and offer a very soft and environmentally responsible cellulose-based alternative for brands and manufacturers looking to develop plastic-free feminine and personal care products.

Further highlights from Lenzing’s product development in the reporting year include the new resource-efficient dyeing approach for TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers and an industry-first innovation that reduces the discoloration of cellulose-based garments during thermoplastic molding processes. Further information and key figures about “Sustainable innovations” can be found in the non-financial statement of the Annual and Sustainability Report.

1 https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/programmes/life_en

2 Project 101113614 — LIFE22-ENV-SE-TREATS

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