Biodiversity and Lenzing’s business: Impacts and dependencies

Biodiversity is defined in a recent report by IPCC and IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)30 as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part”. Human livelihood and wellbeing depends in many ways on the contributions from living organisms and ecosystems. Without safe-guarding biodiversity and ecosystems, there is no prosperity for future generations. There are strong links between climate change, land use, pollution and biodiversity.

The World Economic Forum identifies biodiversity loss and natural resource crises as two of the top five existential threats to the economy, people, and planet in the long term (5–10 years)31. Global biodiversity loss has recently moved into the focus of the sustainability debate in many industries, including the textile and nonwoven sector.

According to the IPBES, pressures on nature leading to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions are categorized into five groups (IPBES 201932 cited after SBNT 202033):

  1. Land/water/sea use change
  2. Resource exploitation
  3. Climate change
  4. Pollution
  5. Invasive species

In the context of global biodiversity loss, the textile and apparel industry has recently become more aware of its contribution to this problem34,35. The focus is on the agricultural production of natural fibers and pollution issues related to fiber production and textile processing, although wood sourcing from forests is also seen as a potential cause of biodiversity loss. Products have potential impacts at the end of their useful life due to waste pollution in land and water ecosystems, especially via non-biodegradable materials that are leaked into the environment.

Lenzing as a leading cellulose fiber manufacturer is focusing on three areas: its wood and pulp sourcing, production processes, and products’ end of use, in order to address biodiversity loss.

Wood is the most important raw material for Lenzing. The main source of potential impact from the Lenzing Group’s operations and supply chain is therefore connected to land use by forestry. Lenzing also mainly depends on biodiversity and the proper functioning of forest ecosystems that provide the raw material of wood. Negative effects on biodiversity can arise from the intensified utilization of forests. On the other hand, the positive effects of sustainable forest management on biodiversity and ecosystems are well known and can be further explored and implemented.

Additional potential impacts on water, soil, and air can arise from production facility emissions. At the end of the value chain of textile and nonwoven products, biodiversity impacts can arise from non-degradable plastics entering the environment.

30) IPBES-IPCC 2021: Scientific outcome of the IPBES-IPCC co-sponsored workshop on biodiversity and climate change

31) WEF Global Risk Report 2021

32) IPBES 2019: Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondizio, J. Settele, S. Díaz, and H. T. Ngo (editors). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. https://ipbes.net/global-assessment

33) Science-based targets for nature. Initial guidance for businesses. 2020.

34) Textile Exchange, Biodiversity Insights Report 2021. https://mci.textileexchange.org/biodiversity/insights/

35) Global Fashion Pact, Transforming the industry. 2020. https://thefashionpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/038906e111abca13dce4c77d419e4f21.pdf

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