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Lenzing Launches Carbon-Neutral Tencel-Branded Fibers

Lenzing has gone carbon neutral.

The Austrian fiber manufacturer announced Tuesday the launch of two CarbonNeutral-certified “carbon zero” Tencel-branded lyocell and modal fibers, produced using renewable energy, which it says will contribute to lower carbon emissions and energy consumption across the supply chain and “kick-start the decarbonization of the textile industry.”

In more specific terms, this means that the emissions associated with the fibers’ production, manufacturing and distribution have been calculated and reduced through engagement with industry partners wherever possible and offset where not.

The move is part of Lenzing’s longer-term “true carbon zero” campaign, which will deploy four “key levers” in the areas of energy reduction, renewable energy, new technology and supplier engagement to halve its greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 and achieve climate-neutral production with zero net-carbon emissions by 2050.

“The launch of our carbon-zero Tencel fibers is just the start of an ongoing battle against climate change,” Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer at Lenzing, the first wood-based fiber manufacturer with approved Science Based Targets, said in a statement. “As we continue to innovate our production processes and fiber offerings, we will look beyond being complacent about the inherent climate advantage of the wood-based fiber business model.”

The company’s “ultimate” goal, he added, is to offer carbon neutrality as a benefit across its entire selection of Tencel fibers and the textile supply chain using the same reduce-engage-offset approach.

“In parallel, we will continue to work with different partners, from brands and designers to NGOs, to build a more effective ecosystem that strives to achieve the common goal of carbon neutrality,” van de Kerkhof said. “While we continue to support our partners in their journey towards carbon neutral, we encourage everyone to join our ‘true carbon zero’ movement.”

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Lenzing hailed the introduction of its carbon-zero Tencel fibers as a milestone in promoting the transparency of raw materials used in textile products, something it says consumers are increasingly clamoring for. A Lenzing consumer perception survey, conducted earlier in the year, found that 76 percent of respondents claimed they “actively educate” themselves on sustainability through research around the production process of products before pulling the trigger on a purchase. The majority—83 percent—said they rated brands that are transparent about the origin of their raw materials as “trustworthy.”

While buying offsets has been criticized by some as a way to “pay to pollute,” Lenzing says that carbon neutrality is just one arrow in a quiver that prioritizes the continuous reduction of carbon emissions through more efficient production methods, the use of renewable energy source and the incorporation of new technologies. For those emissions that cannot be eliminated, the company says it will support verified global carbon reduction projects in areas that are linked to the textile industry, such as Bangladesh, India and Thailand.

“We as a company and brand have taken steps to reduce our footprint, but not all emissions are avoidable,” said Florian Heubrandner, Lenzing’s vice president of global business management. “This motivates us to act on a global level, and we found possibilities to help and support the avoidance of CO₂ emissions around the world. The concept of carbon compensation through offsetting helps to contribute to carbon reduction through verified climate-finance projects.”

Lenzing worked with Natural Capital Partners, the climate-finance firm behind the ClimateNeutral product certification, to attain the global standard, which requires an independent third-party assessment of the products’ carbon footprint and contributions to the “highest quality” carbon finance projects that produce “verifiable, additional and permanent emission reductions” in line with International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance-approved standards.

“By achieving CarbonNeutral product certification for two Tencel fibers, Lenzing has taken an important step in its long-term journey to reduce its company and product emissions,” said Tom Popple, senior manager, climate change and sustainability at Natural Capital Partners. “Not only that, but due to the position of Lenzing in the supply chain of many fashion retailers, this certification sends a message of commitment to climate action for the textile industry.”