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Sustainable Strides: How specialty fibre giant Lenzing is creating green value for brands & retailers

Embark on a thought-provoking expedition into sustainability within the fashion industry with our series Sustainability Strides. This week, IMAGES Business of Fashion explores the sustainability initiatives by Lenzing, unveiling their innovative strides in reshaping the fashion industry.

For 80 years now, Lenzing, a leading Austrian provider of wood-based specialty fibres, has been looking beyond fibre. Lenzing’s fibres are made from natural wood. They are botanic products derived from renewable sources and processed with unique resource-conserving technologies. This is how the company takes responsibility for our planet’s future. The company’s solutions are as inventive as they are effective when it comes to caring for its partners’ success, the planet’s protection and people’s needs in everyday life. Associated with over 500+ brands across the world, Lenzing has helped brands and retailers create numerous sustainable yet fashionable and comfortable options to meet the rising demand for eco-responsibly produced apparel and home textile products.

What distinguishes Lenzing’s sustainability ideas and concepts is their all-embracing benefit: They maximise value creation from both the environmental and the economic perspective. This universal approach is the future of our industry. And Lenzing is already living this future.

Sustainable Energy

The company is now making a substantial commitment to sustainable energy by investing in a new wind farm.

  • Partnering with Austrian electricity producer WLK energy, Lenzing has secured approximately 13 megawatts of wind power through a 15-year contract set to commence in 2025.
  • This collaboration underlines the company’s dedication to fostering a stable and diversified power supply.
  • The generation of renewable electrical energy from wind, solar, and biomass stands as a fundamental element of the company’s corporate strategy, forming the bedrock for sustained long-term commercial success.
  • In 2019, Lenzing was the first fibre manufacturer to set itself the goal of reducing its CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.
  • In 2022, Lenzing opened Upper Austria’s largest open-space photovoltaic plant together with Verbund and also signed an electricity supply contract for photovoltaic energy with the green electricity producer Enery and Energie Steiermark.

Sustainability & Transparency

Within the context of our strategic principles, Lenzing’s ‘naturally positive’ sustainability strategy defines seven core challenges in which the Lenzing Group makes significant contributions. The company sets ambitious targets in these areas to further strengthen its path to a sustainable future. These focus areas directly contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

Raw material security: Wood and dissolving wood pulp from sustainable sources as well as chemicals are the most important basic materials for the Lenzing Group. Active supplier management and sustainable procurement principles are important elements in the company’s sustainable raw material sourcing. The efficient use of all raw materials is a priority for Lenzing and the company is committed to not procuring wood from critical regions such as ancient and endangered forests.

Water Stewardship: Fibres manufactured by Lenzing have minor impacts on the water balance. In addition, the company develops innovative products contributing to the reduction of water consumption in downstream processing steps. Their fibres are biodegradable and compostable and do not burden waters with microplastics.

Sustainable Innovations: The Lenzing Group works to develop new solutions and business models, as well as on improvements to existing technologies and production processes. The principle of sustainable innovation encompasses all core areas of the Lenzing Group.

Empowering People: Lenzing Group gives its employees decision-making flexibility and motivates its partners to promote change and sustainability. For Lenzing it goes without saying that the rights and dignity of all people must always be respected.

Partnering for Systematic Change: Lenzing fibres are used in many end products of daily life. A close partnership with and transparency within the value chain is a guiding principle of company. Lenzing works on cross-industry business models designed to promote the circular economy.

Enhancing Community Wellbeing: Lenzing promotes the development of a diverse range of societies and regions in which it operates and attaches importance to safe and environmentally responsible companies, as well as fair employment practices.

Climate Protection: Global warming is one of the most urgent challenges and demands global solutions. Lenzing will substantially reduce its CO2 emissions in the coming years by implementing a large number of relevant measures. The aim of the Lenzing Group’s climate strategy is to reach the point of zero net emissions by the year 2050. By 2030, emissions per ton of manufactured pulp and fibres will be reduced by 50 percent compared to the year 2017.

Innovative Technologies

In recent years Lenzing has developed numerous innovative process technologies that make a significant contribution to the conservation of resources and thus to the protection of the environment.

  • REFIBRA™ technology
  • Eco Cycle technology
  • Eco Filament technology
  • LENZING™ Web technology
  • Eco Color technology
Sustainable Innovations

Target 1: To improve the Lenzing Group’s specific sulfur emissions by 50 percent by 2023 (baseline 2014)

Target 2: To offer viscose, modal and lyocell staple fibres with up to 50 percent post-consumer recycled content on a commercial scale by 2025

Target 3: To innovate a new circular business model by closing the loops for post-consumer materials and partner with 25 key supply chain companies by 2025

Target 4a: To achieve ‘aspirational’ MMCF level for ZDHC wastewater and air emission guidelines at Lenzing viscose facilities by 2024

Target 4b: To achieve ‘aspirational’ MMCF level for ZDHC wastewater and responsible production guidelines at Lenzing lyocell facilities by 2028

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