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How Viscose Maker Sateri Plans to Achieve Net-Positive Manufacturing

Sateri, the world’s largest viscose producer, has launched its sustainability vision for 2030 to guide the company’s strategic growth in the coming decade.

The vision is anchored around four key pillars in response to environmental and social challenges faced by the cellulosic fiber industry–climate and ecosystem protection, closed-loop production, innovation and circularity, and inclusive growth.

The plan comes with a time-bound roadmap and measurable targets. It encompasses notable targets including net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, achieving 98 percent sulfur recovery rate at all its mills by 2025, utilizing textile waste and producing viscose products with 50 percent recycled content by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030, and supporting more than 300,000 local families and smallholder farmers to develop sustainable livelihoods.

“As a raw material supplier, Sateri will do our part and respond to the urgent need to decouple growth from further resource impact,” Sateri president Allen Zhang said. “This is something that will underpin our growth, in addition to QPC (Quality, Productivity, Cost) and continuous improvement, which are well-embedded in the company.”

In the 2018 Canopy “Hot Button” report, a snapshot of viscose producer progress, Sateri got a “red jacket” due to its sourcing of wood from “plantations situated on high carbon peat lands,” whose vast stores of carbon are at risk of being released into the atmosphere by global warming and climate change.

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Canopy said last month in an update that “despite the work that remains to be tackled, Canopy is encouraged by the initial steps taken by Sateri and is committed to continued, constructive discussion and actions.”

Sateri, the world’s largest viscose producer, has launched its sustainability vision for 2030 to guide the company’s strategic growth.
Sateri’s Vision 2030 plan

Sateri was set up in Shanghai in 2002 as China’s first wholly foreign-owned cellulose enterprise a year after China joined the World Trade Organization. Within two decades, it grew to become the world’s largest viscose producer with five viscose mills and a yarn spinning mill in various parts of China. In more recent years, it has diversified from woven to non-woven and lyocell fibers, and with more differentiated products including recycled fibers.

“As we enter a new decade, we will continue to grow and diversify our product offerings to customers, and remain a vital raw material supplier,” Zhng said. “But our growth strategy cannot be based on just volume and scale. We want to be a value and purpose-driven company, and there are compelling reasons for us to do so.”

Sateri’s 2030 Vision was conceived after months of discussions with management members and external stakeholders including customers, brands and NGOs. The process was facilitated by BSR, a sustainability consultancy, led by Asia Pacific vice president Jeremy Prepscius.

“The challenges facing the garment industry require all value chain participants to invest, innovate and integrate sustainability into their business models,” Prepscius said. “This requires leadership and alignment and will need determination to succeed, which is what Sateri is striving to do.”

LaRhea Pepper, CEO of Textile Exchange, described Sateri as a significant player in the cellulosic fiber industry that is “very well-placed to support the change that is needed for a truly resilient and sustainable fashion industry.”

“As the apparel industry gears up for a decade of change, I am very encouraged to see Sateri swiftly responding and resetting their growth strategy with a vision that aligns with the aspiration of MMCF 2030 that was launched in June this year,” Pepper added.

Led by co-convenors Forum for the Future and Textile Exchange, two key industry players and stakeholders in the MMCF (Man-made cellulosic fibers) value chain, have developed an ambitious shared vision for unleashing the fibers’ untapped potential for building socio-economic resilience and regenerating our social and natural systems so that we avoid or reduce the likelihood of future shocks.

In the coming months, Sateri said it will form workgroups to develop action plans to deliver on the identified targets. Progress toward realizing Sateri 2030 Vision will be reported in the company’s annual sustainability report and online sustainability dashboard.

Sateri’s five mills in China collectively produce about 1.5 million metric tons of viscose fiber yearly. It also operates a yarn spinning mill and 20,000-ton lyocell facility. It is headquartered in Shanghai, where it has a sales, marketing and customer service network covering Asia, Europe and the Americas.