One person’s trash, another person’s treasure

For textile recycling to become as commonplace as paper recycling it will take more than fashion know-how. It requires commercial and innovative leadership, and the right partnerships too.

Commercial leadership for a cleaner textile industry

Scaling up innovation to make sustainably produced fibers an everyday choice

30 years of TENCEL™

Our flagship fiber brand celebrated three decades of fiber innovation in 2022.

“Brand awareness is at 37 percent, almost doubling in the past five years,”

said Harold Weghorst, Vice President of Fiber Marketing & Branding. “It’s also the number two ingredient brand in the market, behind Lycra, which means we’re number one for sustainability.*”

With carbon-neutral TENCEL™ branded fibers on the market since 2021, the product has even more market appeal. “We can support a real change in the industry by showing what’s possible through innovation,” said Harold. “Three decades of TENCEL™ is also 30 years of working with, supporting and empowering partners across the supply chain to adopt more sustainable practices – it goes beyond the fiber production.”

Florian Heubrandner, Vice President of Global Textiles Business, agreed. “We keep sustainability top of mind until buying sustainably produced fibers becomes as normal as buying synthetic fibers.”

Robert van de Kerkhof, Chief Commercial Officer Fiber, is proud of the progress made by our branding initiative this year and in recent years. He added,

“TENCEL™ was the only ingredient brand in the textile market to grow in awareness even during the pandemic.*”

* Source: Nielsen Brand Tracking

600 million products in the market

2022 was a year of major milestones for our branded fibers, with 600 million licensed products on the market – up from 90 million five years ago. Products range from carpets to coats to hygiene wipes, and all of them contain either TENCEL™, LENZING™ ECOVERO™ and VEOCEL™ fibers. This is a huge achievement within a challenging market.

“We made the decision to focus investment where we could have the most impact,”

explained Harold Weghorst, Vice President of Fiber Marketing & Branding. “This meant prioritizing product visibility, and we knew collaboration with brands and retailers would reach a bigger audience. We talk a lot about technology, which is hugely important, but we also have brands we can be proud of – especially high quality brands that consumers recognize. We are pioneers in many ways, including pioneers of quality products.”


trees planted

TENCEL™ made a birthday splash on social media in early 2022. Our #MakeItFeelRight campaign encouraged consumers to #MakeAPledge by sharing their sustainable fashion choices. One tree was planted per pledge, totalling 10,100 trees at the end of the year.


e-shop visits

We partnered with retailers in the TENCEL™ x Campaign to raise awareness of our TENCEL™ eShop launched in 2021. Consumers can browse products containing our branded fibers and access the retailer websites in just one click.

300 partner brands

Sustainability is fast becoming a fashion must-have alongside quality and comfort. Our partner brands now range far and wide across both the textile and nonwoven markets. Collaboration with Italian legwear brand Calzedonia was a big hit earlier in the year, and outdoor apparel brand Gore-Tex joined our portfolio thanks to the launch of our Tree Climate outdoor fabric collection in April 2022. We also teamed up with Neutrogena, the biggest brand for personal hygiene wipes.

“Retailers and brands have been approaching us rather than vice versa,” said Harold Weghorst, Vice President of Fiber Marketing & Branding. “Many want to use our branding in their marketing communications, which increases consumer appetite for our fiber. We don’t just sell fibers down the supply chain, we pull in demand right from the end.”

Robert van de Kerkhof, Chief Commercial Officer Fiber, added, “We now have a new record number of licences for individual products containing our fibers and most of these products are co-branded. When retailers combine their own trademark with ours, it’s really a sign of their trust, which also helps us to gain consumer trust.”

The year started really well, with high demand coming from the brand and retail side as well as direct customers.”

Listen to Caroline Ledl, Head of Product Management

Premium fibers, premium designs

Our fibers made it to the Oscars for the third year running in March 2022 when custom-made gowns featuring TENCEL™ fibers were modelled by Hollywood A-listers. Our collaboration with Red Carpet Green Dress also took TENCEL™ to the London premier of „AVATAR: The Way of Water“ in December. This year, our fibers were seen at London and Paris Fashion Week, and also featured in designs by Patrick McDowell and the late Vivienne Westwood.

Transparency adds value to supply chain

Our success is not possible without the trust and support of our supply chain partners. As the market slowdown impacts us all, we’re making sure our value proposition remains strong, and building transparency remains key. Florian Heubrandner, Vice President of Global Textiles Business explained more.

“Products that are produced sustainably are generally priced higher,” he said, “but the cost is amassed throughout the supply chain. We’re working with customers to enhance efficiency at every price point. Increasing transparency around the value of our fiber, as well as investing in digital traceability and fiber identification, also supports them in their negotiations with suppliers. We’re all part of this together and we can all benefit from better choices.”

US debut for VEOCEL™

VEOCEL™ branded lyocell fibers are in production at our site in Mobile, Alabama, for the first time, allowing us to expand our US customer portfolio. This will also reduce the climate impact of the site as VEOCEL™ branded fibers offer a 30 % lower carbon footprint than the group average for generic lyocell.

“We’re also enabling our partners to reduce their product emissions by choosing VEOCEL™,” explained Jeff De Gruttola, Head of Business Development, Europe & AMEA. “Plus proximity to domestic supply removes the need to transport products from one continent to another.”

Educating the value chain is the next crucial step. “Many people don’t know that wipes or tampons contain plastic, so there are many perceptions we need to overcome.” Jeff and his team have already hosted webinars for partners and will also coordinate education in schools. “If you engage with the younger generations, you tackle these perceptions early,” he added. “As pioneers, we have no example to follow. It can be a lonely road but it’s also rewarding. It feels good to be doing the right thing for people and the planet, as well as our business. What we’re doing really matters and that feels priceless.”

Making textile recycling as normal as paper recycling

Influencing policy and building relationships for systemic change

Influencing EU policy

When the European Commission introduced Green Deal proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emission by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, we welcomed the news. We know that regulation is needed and we’re working with the Commission to ensure the right regulations are put in place.

“The Green Deal affects Lenzing from a 360 degree perspective,” explained Dominic Köfner, Vice President of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs. “It’s therefore important that we are active in all discussions with policymakers. We want to lead on changes, but we also want to make sure we can remain competitive. The Commission is very clear that in order to operate in Europe, you have to innovate, and we welcome this. We want to spearhead changes, because this is what we do. Creating more sustainable practices through technology and product innovations is at the very core of our business.”

Krishna Manda, Vice President of Corporate Sustainability, agreed. “We need policymakers to implement meaningful regulation. Working with them is ambitious but necessary in terms of providing an industry perspective, and defining the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved. As a contributing advisor, Lenzing has specific expertise, we know the roadblocks, we know that collaboration is needed to come up with programs to concretely reduce emissions.”

UN Global Compact (Logo)

Partnering for systemic change

Our goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 is not one we can achieve alone. Lenzing is among 15,000 companies that form the UN Global Compact, an initiative for responsible corporate governance. Further to this, in 2022, we joined the chemical industry’s sustainable supply chain initiative, Together for Sustainability, alongside 37 member companies, and also became a partner company of CISUTAC (Circular and Sustainable Textile and Clothing). This EU-funded consortium aims to remove barriers to circularity in the textile industry.

“It’s been really valuable to have the opportunity to meet partners in person this year,” explained Jo-Ann Innerlohinger, Head of Funding, Monitoring & PMO. “Workshops and conferences are essential, but it’s during those informal moments in between when relationships really come together. That’s when you discover the depth of your shared interest. From there you can build new working groups and stronger networks so it becomes easier to overcome the challenges together.”

Taking action for textile recycling

With 140,000 companies in its number, the European textile and clothing industry faces a huge task to prepare for legislation that mandates the separation of textile waste collection by the end of 2024. Lenzing has joined the Recycling Hubs (ReHubs) initiative to help scale up the collecting, sorting and processing of pre-consumer and post-consumer materials.

“We need to be sorting textiles in the same way we sort paper or plastic,” said Krishna Manda, Vice President of Corporate Sustainability. “What is within our control, we do exceptionally well, but there is still a lot outside of our control.” Our partnership with Timberland is an example of something we’re doing well. The footwear brand has incorporated TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ fibers into their collections.

“We work with their manufacturing facilities,” Krishna added, “helping them to design products in a way that allows us to use the waste as part of the raw material to produce fibers, which Timberland can use again. REFIBRA™ technology takes us towards our target of producing fiber with up to 50 percent post-consumer recycled content on a commercial scale by 2025.”

Collaboration enhances circular business model

Deep research, academic expertise and teamwork build circularity

Södra one year on

Creative thinking continues to drive our collaboration with Swedish pulp producer Södra. Together we’re developing the technology needed to pull thousands of tons of textile waste out of landfill by 2025. “We’ve taken many small steps that are adding up to keep us on track,” said Sonja Zak, Head of Circularity Initiative. “We’ve also built a really good team, especially our research and development departments who’ve founded a great relationship based on openness, transparency and trust. This is all the more important since we’re sharing a lot of intellectual property to really drive the work forward.”

Removing barriers to progress

Sufficient supply of raw materials remains the main challenge to this work – but this is a challenge that a new supply agreement, signed with Renewcell in December 2022, will resolve. The Swedish textile-to-textile recycling company will provide Lenzing with up to 100,000 tonnes of 100 percent recycled textile Circulose® dissolving pulp over the next five years.

Our partnership with Södra is just one of many that have developed across all areas of our work in 2022. Robert van de Kerkhof, Chief Commercial Officer Fiber, believes these are crucial to the future of our business and the industry. He added,

“Partnerships have really started to emerge and accelerate throughout 2022. We cannot do this alone and our collaborations really have potential to deliver significant growth in 2023.”

How does our partnership with Södra work?”

Richard Herchl (Lenzing) and Helena Claesson (Södra) talk about the partnership

Research for responsible fibers

“As a fiber producer, we could say that our responsibility ends once the fiber has gone to market,” said Stefanie Schmid-Schlager, Project Manager of Research and Development. “But that’s not the Lenzing way. We also think about the impact of the end products that contain our fibers – especially the impact on consumers using those products.”

Stefanie and her team have been working with a biomedical expert in clinical medicine and microbiology at the University Claude Bernard Lyon in France. Professor Gerard Lina is a specialist in the research of Staphylococcus aureus pathophysiology and staphylococcal infections, such as toxic shock syndrome. Stefanie continued, “Our work has focused on the impact of materials used in intravaginal menstrual products, such as fibers in tampons and medical silicon in cups. Specifically if the material increases the risk of triggering toxic shock syndrome.”

The study confirmed that none of the tested materials, including all Lenzing fibers, increased the risk. The most crucial thing to prevent toxic shock syndrome is proper use of intravaginal menstrual products.

“We will publish our findings in 2023, which is important for tampon manufacturers, as there’s very little information available on this topic. Our research goes a long way to building the trust and integrity of our brands across the supply chain. With this study, we also help to educate consumers around period shaming and the safe use of menstrual hygiene products.”

Research also enables us to harness opportunities for growth, explained Monique Buch, Vice President of Global Nonwovens Business. “While textiles is a cyclical market, nonwovens is more stable. If you are menstruating, you need tampons. If you have a baby, you need diapers. That’s why nonwovens have outperformed textiles in terms of revenue contribution in recent years, and now we’re seeing opportunities to diversify into new markets.”

Health and safety is an unspoken expectation now”

Monique Buch, Vice President of Global Nonwovens Business talks about innovation

Young minds, big ideas

Lenzing’s collaboration with universities not only helps to build trust in products; it also helps us identify and recruit some of the brightest young research minds. What’s more, they bring fresh insight into the emerging and future trends reshaping the consumer landscape.

In 2022, we launched the Lenzing Young Scientist Award aimed at young designers, students and scientists working on innovative solutions to address the environmental challenges of the textile industry. “With so many great minds and ideas out there, it’s really important to connect with young people. We need creativity and fresh thinking to address the issue of sustainability,” said Project Manager of Research and Development Stefanie Schmid-Schlager. A winning prize of EUR 5,000 was offered.

Lenzing also sponsors the Europe Young Scientist Life Cycle Assessment Award, which recognizes those making a significant contribution to the development and implementation of the life cycle assessment process. Krishna Manda, Vice President of Corporate Sustainability, said, “We need to promote holistic innovations that bring technical and environmental benefits.”

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