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TENCEL™ insights
02 / 05 / 2023
Fiber recycling innovations for a circular economy
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TENCEL™ insights
02 / 05 / 2023
Fiber recycling innovations for a circular economy

The fashion industry has had a transformative impact on the environment. With the rise of online shopping and fast fashion, fashion seasons have shortened massively all while consumer demand for the latest and trendiest clothes remains at an all-time high. How that plays into our finite number of resources and the future of our planet is becoming clearer, incentivizing new textile approaches dedicated to reimagining our current model of manufacturing and disposal.

Tuncay Kılıçkan, Head of Global Business Development, Denim sits down with us to share the story behind TENCEL™’s latest fiber recycling initiative driven alongside Lenzing’s mill partners and why circularity is the future of denim and the world of textile.

Q: How does circularity contributes to the sustainability of the fashion industry?

Fashion, in its current linear pace, is unsustainable. The ‘make-take-waste’[1] industry model has been identified as the root cause of many of the environmental challenges it’s facing. We need circular strategies to ensure products last longer, easily recycled and are safe for regenerating into natural systems.

As a key player of the industry, we are taking active steps in ensuring circularity is embedded in the core of our manufacturing and operation as well as looking at new innovations and solutions to ensure our business is decoupled from pressure on ecological resources.

Working with like-minded partners is equally important because collectively we can make a real impact to our value chain and ecosystem. We all have the responsibility to protect the future of our planet and leave it in good shape for future generations.

Q: Recently, Lenzing has announced its Fiber Recycling Initiative, can you tell us more about that?

With circularity and innovation at heart, our latest “Fiber Recycling Initiative” finds a way to give new meaning to the pre-consumer TENCEL™ lyocell waste, which are production wastes in yarn or fabric form collected at the mill partners’ production facilities.

The initiative started off with the denim segment as the initial phase, for which our valued mill partners Artistic Milliners from Pakistan, Canatiba from Brazil and Textil Santanderina from Spain have innovatively adopted the mechanical recycling of TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers in denim production.

As we continue to roll out the initial phase of the “Fiber Recycling Initiative” by TENCEL™, we strive to raise awareness of our mill partners’ innovations as well as the benefits and potential of the new circular fabric derived from mechanically recycled TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers. The Initiative addresses the ongoing quest from brands and consumers who are looking for more planet-friendly materials, circular production processes and sustainable product options.

Lenzing and our partners are shared the same believe that the future of the textile industry depends on sustainability and circularity. Mechanical recycling of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers in denim segment is just the beginning of our journey with the possibility of extending to cover recycling practices of other TENCEL™ branded fibers in the future.

Q: What are some other examples of Lenzing innovations that contribute to the circular economy?

The challenge of addressing textile sustainability has provided us with ample opportunities to think unconventionally, providing the market with unique solutions that give waste a new life.

Together with Orange Fiber, an Italian company which has patented the pulp production process for citrus by-products, we produce the first ever TENCEL™ branded lyocell fiber made of orange and wood pulp in 2021. Using upcycled orange peels, the collaboration not only finds a way to repurpose waste but opens up the sustainability benefits of TENCEL™ to even more partners in the textile world, while delivering a creative and innovative fiber solution for the consumer market.

We have been committed to driving the industry towards a fully-fledged circular economy and co-develop circular solutions to close loops wherever possible. Lenzing’s pioneering REFIBRA™ technology utilizes pre-consumer cotton scraps and post-consumer garments from the textile value chain as raw materials.

Q: How does all these initiatives fit into the overall sustainability strategy of Lenzing?

By 2050, we are aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Hence all of our fiber offerings and solutions are working towards this goal to make a zero-carbon future possible.

To realise this, we’re committed to working closely with partners across the value chain to drive systemic change and make the shift from linear to circular. We continue to work with our partners to find new ways of driving circularity in the industry, while also improving our sustainability performance.

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[1] https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/topics/circular-economy-introduction/overview#:~:text=We%20must%20transform%20every%20element,the%20limits%20of%20our%20planet

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