The Lenzing Group’s Refibra technology reached a new milestone with the first successful production of Tencel Lyocell fibers using post-consumer cotton waste as part of the recycled raw material portion of the fiber’s content.
Refribra technology had been upcycling of a substantial proportion of pre-consumer cotton scraps from garment production and mixing it with virgin wood pulp to produce Tencel Lyocell fibers. In September, Lenzing announced the first phase of the Refibra technology upgrade, increasing the composition of pulp made from upcycled cotton scraps collected from garment manufacturing process to 30 percent.
In August, Delta Galil, a cotton fabric and apparel manufacturer, began collaborating with Lenzing by using its own surplus of cotton supply for textile-to-textile recycling to produce Lenzing’s Tencel x Refibra Lyocell.
Now, in the second phase, Lenzing can incorporate up to 10 percent of post-consumer cotton waste in that 30 percent recycled raw material content. The company noted that Tencel Lyocell fibers with Refibra technology are produced on demand, and capacity can reach thousands of tons for each type.
Lenzing said with growing interest around the circular economy concept, the scaled production of Tencel Lyocell fibers using post-consumer cotton waste is a key development in the company’s pursuit of building a fully sustainable textile ecosystem. The second phase upgrade of Refibra technology presents new business opportunities to work with brands that are looking for eco-responsible textile value chains.
Being able to use discarded garments consisting of a wider range of materials will greatly enlarge the raw material basis for textile recycling. This innovation is a groundbreaking step towards tackling the global issue of textile waste disposal. Ultimately, Lenzing’s vision is to make textile waste recycling a common process like paper recycling.
At the same time, the new process reduces the extraction of wood as a raw material and relieves the pressure on global forest ecosystems. The company’s mission also includes recycling fabrics and garments from its own materials.
“Our world’s forests and climate need these kinds of next generation solutions at both scale and speed in the cellulosic fiber sector,” Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Canopy, said. “Canopy applauds Lenzing for the vision of making textile waste recycling commonplace and for launching this commercially available product line with the first steps of post-consumer recycled content.
We look forward to Lenzing’s leadership as they work to significantly increase the volume of their raw material that comes from next generation feed stocks,” Rycroft continued, “and we know brands and retailers are looking to preference producers who hit the goal of a 50 percent post-consumer recycled fiber line first.”
As the first producer of wood-based cellulosic fibers offering Global Recycling Standard and Recycled Claim Standard, Lenzing said it offers transparency for the supply chain.
“For several years, we have witnessed a rise of eco-consciousness amongst consumers,” Florian Heubrandner, vice president of global business management textiles at Lenzing, said. “Consumers have been demanding more sustainable product options in their shopping list. If a company wants to truly improve its sustainability practice, it needs to reexamine its current business model and consider introducing new products or technologies with recyclability and reusability in mind.”
Featuring botanic origin and biodegradable quality, Tencel Lyocell and Modal fibers can enhance breathability of fabrics and have minimal static charge when used in fabrics. Fabrics made from the fibers are also gentle on skin with smooth, long-lasting softness, color vibrancy and color retention features.