Process innovations drive efficiency and sustainability

Process innovations focus on improvements to pulp and fiber production processes. Lenzing is constantly working on resource efficiency, occupational safety, process stability, and quality. Ongoing developments in pulp production aim to enhance the biorefinery concept, thereby optimizing wood consumption. Another issue is the reduction of sulfur emissions through technological improvements and aftertreatment systems.

The foundation for sustainable innovations is the use of highly sophisticated production processes for pulp (including biorefinery products) and fibers (viscose/modal and lyocell). Process innovations focus on the further improvement of these processes.

The current focus is on boosting biorefinery integration at Lenzing’s pulp sites and therefore on increasing the usage of the raw material of wood. Several projects related to pulp production deal with the closure of loops (e.g. selective sulfur dioxide absorption, increased caustic soda recovery) and the reduction of wastewater (e.g. sulfate in pulp and fiber production). Increasing energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions are other topics of growing importance.

Activities in this field go beyond regular continuous improvements and aim to seek innovative solutions to reach the ambitious goals set by Lenzing via the science-based target (SBT). In order to achieve maximum impact, pulp and fiber production are increasingly being assessed together to find interactions and synergies. A concrete example in this regard relates to reducing the energy requirement for evaporating aqueous systems by using membrane processes. These processes can be used for both pulp and fiber production, thereby demonstrating the Group’s holistic approach in the field of process innovations.

Clean technology investments in the Lenzing Group

State-of-the-art lyocell plant in Thailand (under construction)

Lenzing’s lyocell technology is based on a closed-loop process that transforms dissolving wood pulp into cellulosic fibers with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. The process has a solvent recovery rate of more than 99.8 percent, which lowers water and chemical use. The lyocell plant under construction in Thailand is the world’s biggest-capacity plant with improved efficiencies due to economies of scale and process innovation within the Lenzing Group. The state-of-the-art lyocell fiber production is an effective answer to the growing demand for fiber while at the same time offering a highly sustainable fiber material. The expansion of clean technology within the Lenzing Group reflects the company’s commitment to improving the ecological footprint of the global textile industry.

Air purification and sulfur recovery plant in Lenzing (Austria)

The new air purification and sulfur recovery plant not only optimizes the company’s self-sufficiency for sulfur and enhances its process reliability, but also improves its environmental performance as part of a forward-looking strategy. Applying this state-of-the-art technology improves exhaust emission values and reduces fossil fuel use by generating steam, which, in turn, is converted into electricity. As a result, it also supports the energy self-sufficiency of the company’s production plant at the Lenzing site while reducing its annual CO2 emissions by 15,000 tons. The new plant began operation in 2021 and represents an important contribution to implementing the Group’s sustainability strategy and clean technologies.

Continuous improvement

As part of a reorganization drive in the reporting year and as an umbrella for all continuous improvement activities, Lenzing has institutionalized its continuous improvement approach and set up a dedicated performance improvement team. In the course of the year, the team has become an integral part of the continuous improvement activities for the entire company. The technology team was integrated to provide holistic improvements, in addition to enhancing organizational methods. A product owner team for data science was established in order to drive data driven improvements across the company. To reflect its purpose and identity, the team was renamed “Performance. Improvement & Technology” with the following purpose statement: “We catalyze improvement and innovation; through collaboration we bring our shared purpose and values to life.” Key success factors for becoming a respected and trusted partner to other departments and sites were purpose driven leadership practices that empower colleagues in different departments, providing the intrinsic motivation for improving performance.


All Lenzing sites in the EU, including one viscose plant, two lyocell plants and two pulp plants, met or exceeded the applicable EU BAT performance standards in 2021, which are set out in several EU best available technology reference documents, i.e. these plants comply with the regulations associated with the BATs. Compliance with EU BATs is the basis for the issuance and review of environmental and operating permits for the plants and is continuously monitored by the competent authorities in the EU Member States. Compliance monitoring is also carried out in accordance with BAT requirements relating to management, monitoring program, reporting, etc.

Therefore, compliance with EU BAT cannot be invoked outside the EU. All Lenzing production sites outside the EU, with the exception of one viscose plant in Indonesia, therefore have the EU Ecolabel for best-in-class performance. In line with the sustainability target, the viscose site in Indonesia aims to achieve the EU Ecolabel in 2023 (targets 1 and 5). The production site in Thailand will begin preparations for EU Ecolabel certification once it is up and running.

The company is also continuously working on improvements in other business areas. Lenzing is fully committed to the roadmap of the multi-stakeholder Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) initiative. All three viscose sites started reporting to the ZDHC gateway in 2021, putting the sustainability goal of achieving Level A on track.

EU Ecolabel criteria

EU Ecolabel criteria


Man-made cellulose fibers criteria


Pulp: wood sourcing

Sustainable forestry: >25 % e.g. FSC®, PEFC or equivalent schemes.
Legal forestry: the rest

Pulp: bleaching agent

Elemental CI free

Pulp: OX on finished fiber

≤150 ppm

Pulp: sourcing

50 % input from mills with energy or chemicals recovery

Staple fiber: sulfur emission to air

30 g/kg

Chemicals and processes criteria


Restricted substance

Spin finishes: 90 % of the component substances readily biodegradable

Substitution of hazardous substances

Should satisfy restrictions concerning certain hazard classifications

The EU Ecolabel was established by the European Commission in 1992. It is an environmental quality label awarded to products and services that have a lower environmental and health impact than comparable goods throughout their entire lifetime. Products bearing the EU Ecolabel are therefore among the most environmentally friendly in the industry. Independent experts, scientists and NGOs devised the guidelines and criteria for awarding the EU Ecolabel in collaboration with the EU member states. The criteria are determined scientifically and consider the entire product life cycle. Regular revisions ensure that the criteria reflect new developments and that assessments remain current. The EU Ecolabel criteria for textile products were recently updated. For the Lenzing Group, this means that strict criteria have to be met in pulp and fiber production, both with regard to emissions released into the air and water as well as the handling of chemicals. The Lenzing Group can provide viscose, modal, and lyocell fibers with EU Ecolabel.

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