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Lenzing Details Sustainability Achievements in ‘Linear to Circular’ Report

The Lenzing Group, a major supplier of wood-based specialty fibers, released its “Sustainability Report 2021” on Tuesday that stresses the company’s focus on fostering the circular economy.

“Our innovations in relation to the circular economy and biodegradability stem from a deep sense of responsibility to our planet and a desire to act in ways that future generations can be proud of,” Robert van de Kerkhof, a member of the managing board of Lenzing Group, said of the “Linear to Circular” report.

With the implementation of the two key projects in Brazil and Thailand, as well as with investments at existing Asian sites in China and Indonesia amounting to 200 million euros ($218.94 million), Lenzing said it’s making progress on its goal of company-wide climate neutrality. In 2019, Lenzing set a target to reduce its carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and to be net zero by 2050, verified and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

The partnership with Swedish pulp producer Södra marked a milestone in Lenzing’s efforts to realize its climate and sustainability goals. The two global market leaders are joining forces to make a decisive contribution to resolving the global textile waste problem.

Lenzing plans to expand its capacity to recover pulp from waste textiles. The goal is to be able to recycle 25,000 tons of used textiles per year by 2025.

Lenzing's new sustainability report stresses its focus on balancing its needs with those of nature in the spirit of the circular economy.
Robert van de Kerkhof Courtesy

Lenzing also continued to expand its product offering for the textile and nonwovens sectors in 2021. The third quarter saw the presentation of the first Tencel lyocell fibers made from wood- and orange-based fiber pulp. The upcycling of orange peels as part of the Tencel Limited Edition initiative was a successful step to develop new closed loop solutions together with partners along the value chain.

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The introduction of the first carbon-neutral fibers on the global nonwovens market under the Veocel brand announced last week is a partnership with Suominen, a global nonwovens supplier and manufacturer of wipes.

Carbon neutral Veocel lyocell fibers were first introduced by Lenzing in June as a solution for nonwovens industry partners and brands to reduce climate impact through the use of fibers with a net-zero carbon footprint.

“Recently, an industry-wide shift towards carbon neutrality has been observed in Europe, with many companies transforming to an eco-friendly business model,” Jürgen Eizinger, senior commercial director for EU/AM/MEA at Lenzing, said. “With Veocel and Suominen coming together to offer carbon neutral fibers for nonwovens in Europe, we hope to address the growing demand from brands and consumers for products with a reduced carbon footprint. The Veocel brand will remain committed to reducing the impact of climate change by offering innovative solutions for our nonwovens partners, paving the way for a net-zero nonwovens industry.”

Veocel lyocell fibers are derived from a renewable source wood and are certified biobased fibers manufactured in an environmentally responsible production process. The fibers are certified as compostable and biodegradable.

Alongside the collaboration with Lenzing, Suominen launched its first carbon neutral nonwovens product to the market. Biolace Zero is a sustainable and carbon neutral product made of 100 percent Veocel lyocell fibers. It is currently available in all of Suominen’s plants across Europe.

In a study published in October, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, confirmed that wood-based cellulosic fibers biodegrade in the ocean within a short time frame at the end of their life cycle, making them a significantly better alternative to fossil-based synthetic fibers.

“We have set ourselves the goal of also reflecting Lenzing’s high level of innovation in terms of its communications, and we are breaking new and innovative ground in this area,” Dominic Köfner, vice president of corporate communications and public affairs at Lenzing, said. “This year, we are pleased to be able to present our reports in digital and thereby interactive form for the first time. This not only makes our reporting more user-friendly, but also takes place exactly where the majority of our users are–online.”

Lenzing noted that it received several awards worldwide in 2021 for its achievements, especially in sustainability. The company was one of only 14 companies worldwide to receive a “AAA” rating from global non-profit environmental organization CDP for its environmental leadership in climate change, water security and forest conservation.

Rating agency MSCI upgraded Lenzing’s rating from “A” to “AA,” putting Lenzing among the top 6 percent of companies evaluated in its peer group. In the EcoVadis CSR rating, Lenzing achieved platinum status for the first time in 2021, ranking it among the top 1 percent of companies evaluated worldwide in terms of the environment, fair working conditions and human rights, as well as ethics and sustainable procurement.

The report was prepared in accordance with the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Austrian Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act and audited by KPMG Austria GmbH.