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Lenzing introduces new fibre recycling initiative

By Simone Preuss


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Lenzing’s Tencel lyocell fibres. Image: Lenzing

Austrian fibre manufacturer Lenzing, together with its partners Artistic Milliners from Pakistan, Canatiba from Brazil and Textil Santanderina from Spain, has started the first phase of a new Tencel fiber recycling initiative.

Aiming to drive the circular economy in the global textile industry, the new initiative begins with the production of denim fabrics from mechanically recycled pre-consumer Tencel lyocell waste on a commercial scale that does not require the use of water or chemicals.

“Denim circularity is undeniably the present and the inevitable future of denim,” comments Baber Sultan, director of research, product and trend at Artistic Milliners, in a press release.

“We have seen a wider adaptation of mechanical recycling beyond textiles, particularly in paper and construction industries. Considering the high tenacity of Tencel lyocell fibres, there is an edge to increase recycled content while producing higher-quality fabrics. The new fabric has so much potential across global markets, especially with the nostalgia around Y2K and other vintage looks,” adds Sultan.

Virgin Tencel lyocell fibres are known for their closed-loop production process, transforming sustainably sourced wood pulp into cellulosic fibres with high resource efficiency and a low carbon footprint.

“Brands and consumers count on us to lead the change towards a more sustainable industry value chain,” states Tuncay Kılıçkan, Lenzing’s head of global business development, denim.

“As we constantly seek ways to improve circularity across various components of the textile industry, our like-minded, decades-long value chain partners have innovatively discovered the mechanical recycling of Tencel Lyocell fibres in denim production. While such a concept is still relatively new to the wider industry, the development of the “Fiber Recycling Initiative” by Tencel sets out to promote the benefits and unleash the full potential of the new circular fabric,” adds Kılıçkan.

According to Canatiba’s product development team, the mechanically recycled Tencel lyocell fibres are “ideal for denim”: “Unlike cotton, the new fabric retains its characteristics in relation to virgin fibres while maintaining the length, resistance, and all the physical properties, as well as being super soft to the touch. It comes from a completely clean and sustainable process that does not involve water or chemical consumption. In Brazil, mechanically recycled lyocell fibres have a strong potential to scale among large brands and department stores.”

Jeans made from Tencel. Image: Lenzing

Fabrics produced using mechanically recycled Tencel lyocell fibres feature a “close-to-cotton” aesthetic while retaining the core features of virgin Tencel lyocell fibres like breathability, smooth drape, being gentle on the skin and long-lasting comfort. The fibres are also identifiable in end products, ensuring traceability and transparency of production processes and along the supply chain.

“We believe that the future of the textile industry depends on sustainability and circularity, which can also guarantee the survival of denim,” says José Antonio Mazorra, CRM manager at Textil Santanderina.

“The awareness of reducing the environmental impact within our sector is growing, especially with the industry trends of circular economy and sustainable production practices. I expect that innovation and technological improvements around circularity, including phases of collection, selection, and recycling, will result in a greater need for mechanically recycled cellulosic fibres,” concludes Mazorra.

Artistic Milliners
Textil Santanderina