Material topic: Sustainable materials & life cycle assessment (LCA)
Actual and potential negative and positive impacts
- Strengthening market position in sustainable net-benefit products and specialty fibers
- Communicating sustainability benefits of Lenzing’s products
- Involvement in creating future standards for environmental communication (product environmental footprint, product category rules, etc.)
- Gaining expertise in life-cycle thinking to proactively demonstrate sustainable development
- Supporting current and future customers in achieving their sustainability targets
- “Greenhushing” – producing sustainable materials/products but not being able to communicate
- Loss of reputation from not being transparent
- Potential regulatory, technology and market risks
Policies and commitments
- Better Growth strategy
- Partnering for systemic change as part of the “Naturally positive” sustainability strategy
- Sustainability Policy
- Group Policy for Safety, Health and Environment
- Group Environmental Standard
- Wood and Pulp Policy
- Branding Strategy
- Higg MSI
- Further extension of LCA studies for standard and specialty fiber portfolio
- Further extension of low-carbon fiber products with corresponding offsets of remaining emissions
- Strategic growth projects fully on track in Brazil and Thailand
- Lenzing’s fibers listed as “preferred fibers” in Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fiber Report
- Lenzing contributed to Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fibers and Materials Benchmark Program (CFMB) including the Biodiversity Benchmark
- Completion of Textile Exchange’s MMCF Producer Transparency Questionnaire to provide information about the sustainability performance at the group and production site level
- Lenzing contributing to leading multi-stakeholder initiatives
- Broad range of third-party certifications
- LCA update involving independent party
- Alignment with Material Sustainability Index (MSI) of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
Sustainability targets, measures and progress
For more information, please see the “Sustainability targets, measures and progress” chapter.
- VP Global Nonwoven Business
- VP Global Textile Business
- VP Global Purchasing
- Corporate Sustainability
- Global QESH
- Research & Development
Sustainability acts as guiding principle for innovation and product development. Every process, product, or application innovation is evaluated for sustainability from the very beginning. Key considerations include the life cycle perspective and the net-benefit principle over the entire value chain, which are implemented in the project management tools used by the company.
Lenzing’s innovation portfolio addresses key topics for the future. Sustainable innovations and proactive partnerships form the basis for Lenzing’s strategic efforts to green the value chain. Sustainability targets for air emissions, water emissions, pollution, climate protection, and the circular economy are the cornerstones of Lenzing’s responsible entrepreneurship and act as innovation drivers.
Funding for sustainable developments
Sustainability criteria are becoming more and more important as guidelines and requirements for R&D funding, both on national and European level. Lenzing, which has been active in this field for a long time, uses this opportunity not only to boost in-house developments but is also active in cooperative research projects.
Lenzing was one of the few companies to receive the highly coveted “Green Frontrunner” funding for a project in the first call in 2021. Entitled “Green Frontrunner – New Technologies for Sustainable Growth”, the project, which runs from June 2021 to May 2025, encompasses several technology topics related to the reduction of emissions in pulp and fiber production. The project will make a significant contribution to achieving Lenzing’s goal of being CO2-neutral by 2050, while at the same time expanding production. Technologies with various degrees of maturity will be examined; some will be implemented rather quickly, while others will offer new possibilities on a long-term horizon.
One example for a cooperative project is REWAI (Reducing Energy and Waste using AI), which runs from April 2022 to March 2025 with the partners Pro2Future, University Linz, Technical University Graz and Lenzing. The goal of the project is to use already existing sensor data from a fiber production line (in combination with additional sensors where needed) to create a predictive model for fiber quality. This will allow immediate response by the operators, which will result in less low quality output and as a consequence a reduction in energy and resources since there is no longer a need for additional handling of the low grade fibers. Lenzing is also a partner in the EU-funded CISUTAC (Circular and Sustainable Textile and Clothing) project, which aims at transitioning the textile sector to a circular and sustainable model. For more information, please see the “Stakeholder engagement” chapter.
Resource-and energy-efficient production processes (and the R&D infrastructure) are the foundation for the development of new fibers that offer both sustainability and performance. These fibers serve as raw materials for the textile and nonwoven chains and are often developed together with value chain partners or other stakeholders. As new fibers are mainly tailored to special application fields, this goes hand in hand with the development of the respective applications.
Wood and hemp: a perfect match
A TENCEL™ Limited Edition using hemp was developed together with Candiani Denim in 2022 to push the boundaries of innovation and further inspire sustainability across the textile industry value chain. Hemp as a portion of the pulp input is thereby replacing wood content as the main cellulose source for TENCEL™ Lyocell.
Hemp is recognized as a highly sustainable fiber and an alternative to many classic fibers used in fabrics. Unfortunately, it is equally renowned for its roughness. By applying Lenzing’s responsible closed-loop and resource-efficient manufacturing process, hemp pulp, along with wood pulp was transformed into a soft lyocell fiber. The fiber has been the basis for the world’s first biodegradable stretch denim fabric made by Candiani Denim.
The launch of the TENCEL™ Limited Edition using hemp pulp again underlines Lenzing’s pioneering role in developing highly sustainable production processes and in bringing innovations to the market together with committed partners.
Matte TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers – Enhancing the look of denim with eco-friendly credentials
The Lenzing Group has expanded its sustainable offering for the denim industry with the introduction of matte TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers. The new fiber type is specially designed to scatter light and permanently diminish sheen in denim applications, further enabling versatility of indigo-dyed denim fabrics.
By combining functionality with aesthetics, matte TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers increase versatility in denim designs while reducing the ecological footprint of the resulting fabric and garment. Produced by a resource efficient closed-loop production process, the new fiber type maintains all the comfort benefits of standard TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers to bring next-to-skin smoothness while giving dark indigo dyed fabrics a deep and lusterless appearance.
Hydrophobic cellulose fibers for sustainable nonwovens
The development of a hydrophobic lyocell fiber widens the fiber portfolio of Lenzing and allows the replacement of synthetic fibers with a cellulosic fiber which is compostable under home and industrial conditions and biodegradable in soil, thus offering an alternative to conventional synthetic fibers. In addition, the cellulosic fibers show increased softness and therefore are beneficial for future product developments in applications touching the skin like hygiene products or wipes. Furthermore, the hydrophobic behavior of the cellulosic fibers leads to a different behavior towards lotions allowing lotion amounts and formulations to be adjusted, thus widening the options of nonwovens producers, especially when looking into 100 percent cellulosic options.
The development of the hydrophobic fibers was extended to a wide range of application developments for hygiene products, to a large extent in cooperation with customers. The results clearly show that cellulosic fibers have the potential to be used in hygiene applications in a much wider range than today. Further work is planned in the future optimizing product properties in collaboration with customers while reducing the overall ecological footprint.
Smart blends for improved performance
The change from conventional wipe blends containing up to 80 percent synthetic fibers to 100 percent cellulosic fibers leads usually to thinner wipes as cellulosic wipes collapse when wet. Therefore, the main development goal was to achieve the wet thickness of conventional wipes with a 100 percent cellulosic fiber blend while preserving the tensile strength. The goal was achieved in 2022 by changing the fiber blend and machine settings.
100 percent cellulosic flushable wipes
The Single-Use Plastic Directive (SUPD) heightens the need to offer 100 percent cellulosic wipes with sufficient strength and products that are flushable for safe and convenient disposal. As the usage of flushable wipes has increased over the years, the definition of flushability has become stricter. Therefore, Lenzing has worked on gaining a fundamental understanding of the relevant fiber properties and final product performance. Based on this work, Lenzing obtained the Fine to Flush certification from Water Research Center (WRC) as well as conducted and passed all the tests from the stringent International Water Services Flushability Group (IWSFG) guidelines, demonstrating that LENZING™ Lyocell fine short cut fibers with eco disperse technology are a suitable ingredient for flushable wipes.
Wet laid developments as basis for transition into 100 percent cellulosics
In addition to flushable material, further progress has been made in developing high-strength wetlaid products, which have been presented to customers. The wetlaid technology offers access to 100 percent cellulosics using a large proportion of wood pulp. Because a high proportion of pulp can be used, the process results in lower raw material costs than 100 percent cellulosic spunlace. Interest in wipes based on this technology has therefore increased over time. Lenzing’s development work focusing on optimizing tensile strength and productivity has been of considerable interest to customers. Also further development to optimize the processability of the fibers in the downstream processes has been started. Initial results in 2022 clearly show that the number of web failures in customers’ trials were reduced significantly, thus helping to lower the amount of waste material.