Water stewardship

[GRI 303-1, 303-2; ESRS E3-1, E3-2, E3-3]

Along the entire life cycle of Lenzing’s products, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, and adequate water supplies is essential to the effectiveness and efficiency of not only Lenzing’s operations, but also those of its suppliers, the local communities, and downstream customers. Lenzing is actively engaged in the assessment and management of the water footprint of its operations and products, as well as the associated risks, in order to minimize the direct and indirect impacts.

Lenzing has established an internal Group-wide performance standard on water emissions regardless of site locations. This standard is based on proven industrial processes, such as the EU BAT reference documents and ZDHC standards, and is regularly reviewed and updated.

By using external assessment tools (e.g. World Resource Institute (WRI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)), the contextualized situation of effluent-receiving water bodies is currently considered from a superficial level but will be increasingly evaluated for the future development of the Lenzing’s Group Environmental Standard.

The Lenzing Group considers water-related issues in the upstream and downstream value chain of its products. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is useful for identifying hot spots and supports strategic decision-making. Lenzing aims to contribute to the sustainable use of water wherever it can exert a direct or indirect influence.

This includes the consumption of fresh water as well as the discharge of process water and effluents, which are the subject of Lenzing’s Group Environmental Standard and Water Policy. These presuppose continuous monitoring and reporting according to Environmental Management System, GRI, CDP and other water-related standards and guidelines. Figure “Water stewardship” illustrates Lenzing’s contribution in this context at different stages of the value chain. Lenzing helps its customers reduce their water-related impacts by providing solutions with LENZING™ fibers to replace water-intensive fibers and/or avoid the most polluting steps in the value chain according to Higg MSI data.

Management Approach

Material topic: Water use & pollution

[GRI 3-3; ESRS E3-1, E3-2, E3-3]

Actual and potential negative and positive impacts


  • Better product water footprint through higher proportion of Lenzing pulp and expansion of specialty product manufacturing
  • LCA-based communication of Lenzing’s products with improved water footprint helps value chain partners fulfill their water targets
  • Development of industry benchmarks and contribution to multi-stakeholder initiatives such as ZDHC


Own activities:

  • Physical risk of water scarcity affecting operations
  • Water pollution can affect the health of employees and community residents as well as the surrounding environment

Business relationships:

  • Water pollution can affect the health of employees and community residents as well as the surrounding environment

Policies and commitments

  • Group Water Policy
  • “Naturally positive” sustainability strategy with “Water stewardship” focus area
  • Lenzing Group sustainability targets
  • Lenzing Group ISO 14001:2015 certification
  • Group Policy for Safety, Health and Environment
  • Group Environmental Standard
  • Global Code of Business Conduct
  • Global Supplier Code of Conduct
  • Wood and Pulp Policy
  • Higg FEM

Actions taken

  • Update of life cycle methodology to assess water footprint of products and technologies
  • Integration of global water-related assessment tools into risk management
  • Further development of Environmental Key Data (EKD) reporting to comply with updated GRI indicator requirements
  • ZDHC MMCF wastewater guidelines implemented at viscose production sites
  • CDP water reporting
  • Environmental management system based on ISO 14001:2015 (including risk assessment and internal audits to ensure effectiveness of the measures implemented)
  • Continuous development of Group Environmental Standard
  • ZDHC MMCF roadmap
  • Regular Global QESH meetings with management review

Sustainability targets, measures and progress

For more information, please see the “Sustainability targets, measures and progress” chapter.


  • Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)

For more information, please see the “Stakeholder engagement” chapter.


  • CEO
  • Site managers


  • Global QESH
  • Performance.Improvement.Technology

Water stewardship

Water stewardship (illustration)

Especially at the product level, LCA is the primary tool being used for assessing cradle-to-gate impacts and identifying areas for improvement within direct and indirect operations, i.e. pulp and fiber production or upstream supply. The procedure is supported by the environmental data collection process from in-house operations, including water use, effluents, and discharge of priority substances of concern, as well as gathering a growing volume of primary data on water use from suppliers. This approach is complemented by corporate water risk assessment, contextualizing qualitative and quantitative information of the supply chain and own production with WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas and WWF Water Risk Filter. They not only support the evaluation of current water situation at specific locations but also provide insight into future scenarios due to the effects of climate change on water availability and quality.

In order to ensure water quality and availability at Lenzing’s operational sites, Lenzing aims to continuously reduce water consumption and water-related emissions. Various elements are considered within the target-setting process, which acknowledges that the water scarcity situation is changing in many regions due to climate change. In this respect, Target-setting will thus also consider the future of water resources aspects.

Lenzing considers water to be an extremely valuable resource, enabling the production of dissolving wood pulp and cellulosic fiber products. Water stewardship is therefore key to carefully interacting with this natural resource.  With water being a precious resource, its increasing scarcity in many parts of the world constitutes a threat to people, the environment, and sustainable economic development. For example, poorly managed wood plantations can put pressure on the regional water balance. Lenzing procures certified wood from sustainably managed forests and therefore mitigates the potential impacts of water stress. On the other hand, some materials used in the textile supply chains occasionally create high water impacts through water consumption and water pollution. Key issues in water stewardship are the efficient use of water in production and the use of state-of-the-art wastewater treatment technologies.

Lenzing provides fibers with a lower water impact than other cellulosic fibers in order to satisfy the growing future demand for fiber and innovates products that omit downstream value chain steps. This substantially reduces water use and impacts.

The spinning bath in the lyocell process contains water and the solvent NMMO to dissolve the cellulose polymer prior to spinning. The viscose process uses a mix of process chemicals and water. In both production technologies water is recycled by separating it from process chemicals and/or solvents with very high efficiency. This is the state-of-the-art technology at all Lenzing facilities. It enables water to be saved, provides optimal pre-treatment for water discharge, and optimizes fiber properties and quality. With the help of the recovery systems, Lenzing gains marketable co-products and reusable process chemicals. A final wastewater treatment stage reduces effluent charge, aiming to avoid potential harms to receiving water bodies by exceeding local quality requirements.

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