Sateri, a major manufacturer of viscose fiber, has begun production of a new brand of recycled fiber called Finex, while also adding a new production line of lyocell fiber in collaboration with Asia Symbol, one of China’s leading producers of pulp and packaging board.
The newly installed dedicated production line for lyocell, with a capacity of 20,000 tons per year, will broaden Sateri’s portfolio of fiber products and bolster the fiber’s supply to the textile and non-woven markets.
“The technology to regenerate textile waste into new cellulosic fibers is emerging and technically challenging, but in the past few months our R&D team has worked hard to find the right balance between producing a viscose product out of recycled textiles, while maintaining high quality,” Allen Zhang, president of Sateri, told Sourcing Journal. “In partnership with Swedish company Södra, we produced on a commercial 35,000-ton line–a new fiber using a mix of dissolving pulp made from recycled post-consumer textile waste by Södra and other PEFC-certified wood pulp. With this breakthrough, we recently unveiled Finex as Sateri’s new brand for recycled fiber in collaboration with two brands. We will continue to work closely with our partners to increase the percentage of recycled content for Finex.”
For the Finex line, Zhang said through using two advanced technologies–Siro compact and Vortex–at the company’s Linz Nanjing yarn-spinning mill, it was able to ensure stable yarn production without the need to adjust processes or parameters of existing spinning technologies.
“The result is a quality fiber with excellent spinning efficiency that delivers yarn evenness and tenacity,” he said.
Sateri is part of the Singapore-based RGE group of companies. Along with sister company Asia Pacific Rayon, the companies have an annual production capacity of 1.7 million tons, Zhang noted.
In October, RGE committed $200 million over the next 10 years to spur next-generation cellulosic fiber innovation. The investment will focus on alternative cellulosic feedstock and clean manufacturing solutions deployable on an industrial scale.
“Some of the investments and partnerships made so far, in addition to what we developed with Södra, include Finnish start-up Infinited Fiber Company to scale up its technology and an MoU with Re:newcell for technical cooperation and trials on production of viscose using recycled cotton,” he said. “There is also ongoing collaboration with leading universities on new production technologies and discussions to invest in funds that promote circular fashion solutions.”
A natural and biodegradable fiber, Sateri’s lyocell is made from wood pulp sourced from sustainable plantations. It is manufactured using closed-loop technology that requires minimal chemical input during the production process, using an organic solvent that can be almost fully recovered and recycled. Lyocell is used to produce textiles and personal hygiene materials. Textiles made from lyocell possess high tenacity and bright luster, as well as having good drape, breathability and absorption.
Zhang said as an upstream material supplier, Sateri faced the same challenges from the coronavirus pandemic as the global supply chain, with major disruptions and demand for apparel dropping significantly as retail came to a near standstill.
He said specifically during China’s COVID lockdown period, Sateri had to scramble for temporary warehousing solutions as logistics became a challenge.
“Fortunately, with stringent health and safety measures in place, all our mills operated throughout this period and we were able to continue to meet customer orders,” Zhang said. “We were also able to contribute to China’s COVID-19 recovery efforts through donations of masks and support for local communities. Sales for non-woven viscose have been healthy, driven by demand for hygiene products like anti-bacterial wet wipes and dry wipes. However, demand for textile fibers has slowed, and viscose prices across the board have fallen more than 20 percent compared to the same period last year.”
He said except for weak demand and prices, everything has resumed close to pre-COVID levels.
“We remain vigilant and adopt all the necessary preventive measures as China continues its recovery from the pandemic,” Zhang said. “As a large, privately held company, we take a long-term view of our business and are prepared to deal with economic gyrations. In fact, we feel now is the right time to invest in our business so that we are ready to support the expected demand uptick upon full recovery.”
He said that lyocell is a particularly strong addition to Sateri’s product portfolio, with a big growth opportunity in the China market.
“Overall, we remain confident that bio-based textile fibers like viscose and lyocell will continue to grow in importance,” Zhang added.
Outdoor brand Lafuma, which expanded an expertise in backpacks into a full range of adventure-ready gear, is among the first to incorporate Finex into its product line.
“We’re pleased to collaborate with Sateri as one of their first brand partners for Finex,” said Wu Qian, general manager of Lafuma China. “Sateri’s dedication to this partnership made it possible for Lafuma to produce T-shirts with this fine quality fibre in a short time. T-shirts made with Finex will be among the offerings Lafuma has in store for the 618 [shopping] festival as we look to support environmentally-friendly and excellent performance solutions to strengthen our position as a leading outdoor apparel brand.”