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
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.
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.”
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.”
Collaboration enhances circular business model
Deep research, academic expertise and teamwork build circularity
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.”