Lenzing’s circular economy practices

[ESRS E5-2; GRI 3-3d, 306-2]

A summary of the “Actions taken” can be found in the management approach at the beginning of this chapter.

Lenzing pursues its vision by following three key practices that incorporate various elements of the circular economy into its circular business model. These practices are outlined in figure “Circular economy model” and described below:

  • Natural circularity
  • Resource-efficient products and technologies
  • Developing commercial-scale recycling technologies

Circular economy model

Circular economy model (illustration)
a) Applies to TÜV certified biodegradable and compostable LENZING™ fibers

Natural circularity


Lenzing’s fibers consist of cellulose, a naturally renewable polymer that is biodegradable and obtained from the renewable raw material wood. The wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests and plantations (as described in the “Raw material security” chapter).

LENZING™ Lyocell, Modal and Viscose Standard fibers are certified by TÜV Austria as biodegradable and compostable1. The safe disposal of those fibers into the natural environment enables the cellulose material loop to close in alignment with the biological cycle. Natural circularity covers this biological cycle and also focuses on different end-of-life solutions.

When referring to a “circular product” of nonwovens, Lenzing is focusing less on just a “fiber solution”, but more on a circular value chain model, as requirements and usage of the end products differ between the various nonwoven end products. This means that the impact of Lenzing’s fibers needs to be considered with regard to raw material, performance, waste and end-of-life, delivering the highest value and causing the least impact on the environment. Lenzing is therefore following a structured approach for its new products to answer the market needs for most sustainable solutions.

Glacier protection Fleece

The melting of glaciers is symbolic of the repercussions of global warming. As a company committed to science-based targets to limit the rise of the global temperature, Lenzing also seeks new product solutions that can contribute to this topic. One key example and highlight in 2023 has been the development of a glacier protection fleece made 100 % from Lenzing’s cellulosic fibers.

Traditional glacier protection fleeces use synthetic fiber-based geotextiles, which can contribute to micro plastic pollution. If the fibers are degrading through the impact of sun, water and wind, small particles of plastic are released in the sensitive alpine environment.

Lenzing, in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck’s Institute of Ecology, Austrian glacier tourism, and the Chamber of Commerce (WKO Tirol), used a new approach, utilizing cellulosic LENZING™ fiber-based geotextiles. This award winning innovation (winner of the Swiss BIO TOP Award 2023) helps to protect glaciers without contributing to the microplastic pollution.

End of life

By applying a more application-specific approach, Lenzing drives to look at various end-of-life solutions, such as biodegradability, recycling, or reuse, depending on the fiber, end-product and markets. Lenzing is therefore strategically involved in policy discussions as well as engaged in circular initiatives to further develop and advance the world’s change to a more holistic economy.

Resource-efficient products and technologies

Biorefinery for pulp production

In pulp production wood is turned into dissolving wood pulp for further fiber production. At Lenzing’s pulp sites, this is an energy self-sufficient process. Lenzing uses all raw materials efficiently, has high recovery rates for solvents and chemicals, and minimizes waste production. The Lenzing Group operates three biorefineries, in Lenzing (Austria), Paskov (Czech Republic) and Indianópolis (Brazil). As depicted in figure “Highly efficient use of the raw material wood”, Lenzing’s biorefinery technology converts wood into pulp, co-products and bioenergy. Lenzing sells the valuable biorefinery products to other industries, thereby making a major contribution to the maximum utilization of wood and process chemicals. For more detailed information, please see the “Resource outflows” section below.

Highly efficient use of the raw material wood

Highly efficient use of the raw material wood (illustration)

Surplus energy from pulp production is supplied as renewable energy in the form of steam and electricity. At the Lenzing (Austria) site surplus energy is directly powering fiber production lines. In Paskov (Czech Republic) and Indianópolis (Brazil) surplus energy is exported to the electricity grid and thereby supports the shift to renewable energy in these regions. This is a prime example of the cascading use of biomass and 100 percent utilization of wood without generating any waste.

Fiber production

Lenzing produces specialty fibers and innovates cellulosic fiber technologies. The high-quality fibers, viscose (rayon), modal, and lyocell, are supplied to the textile and nonwoven industry, as well as being used in industrial applications, and are valued for their special properties.

Furthermore, Lenzing’s lyocell process is a closed-loop solvent-based technology that allows the manufacturing of cellulosic fibers without chemical modification of the cellulose. The process follows a basic dissolution concept and allows 99.8 percent of the solvent to be recovered and fed back into the loop. This avoids waste and ensures high resource utilization, while reducing water consumption and emissions. Compared to conventional production, recovering solvents and chemicals avoids or reduces environmental impacts, such as GHG emissions – thereby supporting the mitigation of climate change. For additional information, please see the “Responsible production” focus paper.

Manufacturing steps in the textile industry

To address textile industry waste challenges, Lenzing has developed an innovative recycling technology, REFIBRA™. This technology utilizes pre- and post-consumer textile waste and turns them, together with virgin pulp, into new fibers.

We give waste a new life. Every day

In line with its vision, “We give waste a new life. Every day”, Lenzing is striving to make textile waste recycling a common standard process similar to paper recycling. Lenzing has set a target and taken measures to make this vision a reality: it plans to offer viscose, modal and lyocell staple fibers with post-consumer recycled content on a commercial scale. For more information, please see the “Sustainability targets, measures and progress” section of “General information” chapter.

Management of production waste

There are several contexts in which waste is generated in Lenzing’s facilities, such as within production processes, the packaging of procured goods and of sole fiber bales. Lenzing follows a waste hierarchy and avoids waste wherever possible. For more information, please see the “Waste management” section in this chapter.

To advance its circular economy, Lenzing uses recycled or reused materials whenever possible, instead of extracting virgin resources from nature. However, it should be considered that recycling processes can require a high amount of energy due to fiber blends and chemicals used in the value chain and therefore a holistic approach is needed (e.g. design for circularity, use of renewable energy and “low-impact” chemicals in the value chain) to truly mitigate climate change.

Commercial-scale recycling technologies

Lenzing is using two types of recycling, chemical and mechanical. Firstly, pulp from chemically recycled cotton textile waste is used to produce new fibers together with virgin wood pulp. Lenzing’s fiber technology REFIBRA™ utilizes a proportion of cotton waste as well as dissolving wood pulp as raw materials.

Lenzing continued to offer TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ branded lyocell fibers with a minimum of 30 percent recycled content in 2023. While this creates a significant environmental improvement, it creates high-quality fibers with the same properties as fibers from virgin dissolving wood pulp. The fiber is available under the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), certifying that all production processes in the entire supply chain have undergone the relevant steps to ensure the integrity of the final product.

Expansion to lenzing™ ECOVERO™

In 2023, the eco-efficient REFIBRA™ technology was expanded from TENCEL™ branded lyocell to LENZING™ ECOVERO™ branded viscose fibers. Now available worldwide, LENZING™ ECOVERO™ with REFIBRA™ technology features a minimum of 20 percent of this recycled content from cotton textile waste.

Secondly, textile materials (pre-consumer/post-industrial, post-consumer) are also recycled mechanically by Lenzing. These textile fabrics are shredded down to the individual fiber level as far as possible. Because of the necessary and severe shortening of the fiber length in the recycling process the fibers lose some of their performance (e.g. strength), these mechanically recycled fibers therefore require carrier fibers to become spinnable. For more information, please see “Sustainable innovations” chapter.


Brands and retailers have the influence to offer products with recycled content to costumers, but also to make sure that their products are designed in a way that facilitate circularity in terms of durability, recycability and biodegradability. Lenzing runs an active research and development project to further improve the utilization of pre-consumer textile waste for the production of fully biobased and biodegradable fibers.

Consumer use

Lenzing strives to offer the best possible materials for products used by consumers and end-users, so that they can purchase products that satisfy their needs for performance and sustainability.

So, one of Lenzing’s goals is to recycle post-consumer textile waste more efficiently. Given the complexity of global value chains, Lenzing collaborates with various stakeholders with the clear goal to drive systemic change in the textile and nonwovens industry.


Transparency makes partnerships easier and provides a foundation for credible sustainability performance, especially the circular economy that will be part of the upcoming EU legislations. Gaining a deeper understanding of Lenzing’s suppliers and downstream customers is critical to minimizing the Lenzing Group’s overall environmental as well as social impact and putting it on the right track to achieve circular and net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 (“Long-term science-based net-zero target”). More information on transparency through digitalization is provided in the “Digitalization & cyber security” chapter.

Partnering for systemic change is one of the basic principles of Lenzing’s “Naturally Positive” sustainability strategy for jointly achieving targets with Lenzing’s major stakeholders. For example, to make it possible to acquire low carbon footprint chemicals such as “low-impact” caustic soda produced (by using renewable energy sources), Lenzing is actively engaging with its suppliers. Only with this supply chain wide engagement it is possible to lower the carbon footprint of Lenzing’s products.

Collaboration is therefore essential. Lenzing is part of several initiatives that strive to foster the circular economy in the fashion industry. More information can be found in the “Stakeholder engagement” section of this chapter.

Lenzing and partners launch Austria’s largest textile recycling project

In a collaborative effort to advance the transition to a circular economy, Lenzing partnered up in 2023: with logistics and sorting partner ARA (Altstoff Recycling Austria AG), the textile service provider Salesianer Miettex, the NGO Caritas, and the Swedish pulp producer Södra. Together, they are working to collect used household and clothing textiles for producing recycled pulp, ultimately leading to the production of new lyocell and viscose fibers.


In 2023, Lenzing intensified its cooperation and development with Mundao, a French eco-conscious start-up company, which has developed an industrial compostable diaper. Lenzing has supported the French company with its expertise in biodegradable materials and use of cellulosic fibers. As a result, the revolutionary diapers, marketed under the brand Popotine, include a range of VEOCEL™ fibers in different components of the diapers.

“Popotine” compostable diapers, the first of its kind in the European diaper market, are currently commercialized to child daycare facilities, collected after use by city-bike associations, and repurposed in industrial composting. This end-of life concept offers a sustainable solution for disposable diapers as feedstock for agricultural compost and for biomass industrial plants.

1LENZING™ fibers which are TÜV certified biodegradable (soil, fresh water & marine) and compostable (home & industrial) include the following products: LENZING™ Viscose Standard textile/nonwovens, LENZING™ Lyocell Standard textile/nonwovens, LENZING™ Modal Standard textile, LENZING™ Lyocell Filament, LENZING™ Lyocell Dry and LENZING™ Web Technology. An exception in certification applies for the fibers LENZING™ Lyocell Filament and LENZING™ Lyocell Dry, for which the necessary tests for confirming biodegradability in marine environment were not yet done or finalized.

Topics filter

Results for