The Lenzing Group is taking the next step in its sustainability mission with the introduction of branded viscose fibers with low environmental impact, and the release of an independent verification audit that gives high marks to its sourcing and production process.
Lenzing is rolling out EcoVero branded viscose fibers that have the lowest environmental impact in the industry, according to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Materials Sustainability Index.
Lenzing said with environmental awareness of consumers growing steadily and textile consumption expected to double by 2025, the industry is anxiously looking for more sustainable solutions with minimal eco-footprint.
Achieving low environmental impact requires developing eco-friendly raw materials and a sustainable manufacturing process, the cellulosic fiber giant noted—and that market need is one the company thinks its EcoVero fibers will address.
According to Lenzing, the fibers set a new industry standard in sustainable viscose based on three pillars: the use of sustainable and certified wood sources, an ecological production process with significantly lower emissions and water impact than conventional viscose, and full supply chain transparency by identifying EcoVero fibers in the final product.
EcoVero fibers are made from wood, a natural and renewable raw material that comes from sustainable forestry plantations that are certified by associations like the Forest Stewsrship Council. Lenzing has a comprehensive wood sourcing policy that ensures the most sustainable wood sources are used for viscose production.
Lenzing enforces strict environmental standards during viscose production and has invested millions of dollars over the years to achieve eco-friendly production process. Its viscose production sites where EcoVero fibers are produced comply with the stringent guidelines of the European Union Eco Label environmental manufacturing standard. In addition, the flagship viscose production in Austria uses a significant amount of renewable bio-energy in the manufacturing process.
A special manufacturing system enables Lenzing to identify EcoVero fibers in the final product. This allows retailers and brands the assurance that they are incorporating the eco-friendly viscose and not a generic market viscose.
“With this special identification technology for EcoVero fibers, we are supporting the trend in the fashion industry toward greater transparency, said Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer at Lenzing. “It is becoming increasingly important to know where the products come from and which path they have covered.”
Meanwhile, environmental not-for-profit Canopy and the Rainforest Alliance have released the first independent verification audit results of Lenzing’s wood sourcing that shows a rating of low risk for sourcing of wood from ancient and endangered forests or other controversial sources.
“Canopy welcomes these first audit results as a key milestone on the CanopyStyle path to end the use of endangered forests in fabrics,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s executive director. “These audits are a learning tool for producers and an instrument for Canopy and our 100 brand partners in assessing risk within the rayon-viscose supply chain.”
Efforts to curtail the impact of viscose’s growing production footprint on frontline communities, species, the world’s climate and intact forests are drivers behind the work of Canopy and the Rainforest Alliance with
Stefan Doboczky, chief executive officer of Lenzing, said, “These audit findings are of great value, offering us insights and confirming our path to continue innovating on closed-loop sourcing and offering our customers even more sustainable products.”
In addition to the low risk sourcing rating, the audit lauds Lenzing’s comprehensive understanding of its supply chain structure and the geography of all dissolving wood pulp manufacturers.
The report suggests the company could improve its annual audit results by collecting more specific data on the forest of origin of the materials being received, build on its existing chain of custody and certified material sources to include certification claims on supporting sales and delivery documentation, continue to develop products containing recycled content and progressively forward the use of closed loop fibers, and pass along forest of origin and certification claims to customers.
Over the past three years and with the support of 100 brands, designers and retailers representing $115 billion in annual sales, CanopyStyle has secured sourcing commitments from producers representing 75 percent of the global supply of fabrics made from viscose.