Stefan Doboczky sits on the raw material at Lenzing headquarters

The Lenzing Group is doing the right thing, according to a leading environmental group.

Lenzing, the Austrian-based cellulosic fiber producer, was ranked number one globally by the Canadian environmental organization Canopy Planet Society regarding procurement of wood, the key raw material in its fiber production.

This was the conclusion of the latest global ranking compiled by Canopy, which cooperates with 68 leading retail brands in the textile industry worldwide and is a key source in evaluating sustainable sourcing processes. Lenzing said Wednesday that achieving the leading position in this ranking is another recognition of its sustainability leadership.

In its report, Canopy assessed the performance on forest conservation and wood sourcing practices of the major players of the cellulose fiber industry. It also commended Lenzing for its new Tencel fiber that uses cotton fabric waste as an alternative source of raw material.

Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer of Lenzing, said the ranking is evidence of the company’s efforts in the field of sustainability.

“The origin of the wood, the most important material, is the decisive factor for us at the beginning of the production process,” he said. “Lenzing is continually striving to improve all its processes, as well as its procurement guidelines. Lenzing will also continue to intensively provide support to the road map specified by Canopy as a means of preserving and protecting global forests. This is because sustainability is a core element of our business model.”

Lenzing said it has been focusing on optimizing the sourcing of the renewable raw-material wood for more than 20 years in accordance with the principle of sustainability. The company mainly relies on the Forest Stewardship Council certification system. In Europe, with its strict forest regulations, Lenzing also makes use of the PEFC program as a means of demonstrating its sustainable procurement activities. Close to 100 percent of the wood and pulp used by the Lenzing Group is already certified by FSC or PEFC or is controlled in line with these standards.

The combination of high wood and pulp procurement standards with best practice process technologies reflects Lenzing’s sustainability approach. The production of Lenzing Viscose fibers and the wide range of specialties, such as the Tencel fiber and Modal, are produced using high environmental standards and highly resource-efficient closed-loop processes.

Lenzing has been working steadily on the further improvement and environmental responsibility of its production processes. In this regard, Lenzing relies on the principle of closed-loop production as well as the use of the raw-material wood in its “biorefinery.”

Another criterion serving as the basis for Lenzing’s number-one global ranking was its performance in the field of alternative raw-material sources. Lenzing is developing new Tencel fiber on the basis of cotton fabric waste in collaboration with Inditex, linking work in textile recycling with the environmental award-winning closed-loop fiber technology of Tencel.

Canopy’s 65 brand partners represent more than $100 billion in annual revenue and have all committed to eliminating ancient and endangered forest fiber from their clothing. Rayon and viscose producers involved in more than 75 percent of global production are partners in the Canopy Style campaign.

Canopy said nine of the top 10 viscose producers have publicly committed to ending sourcing from ancient and endangered forests. One additional viscose producer, Nanjing Chemical Fiber Co., has also committed to Canopy Style.

The report said Lenzing and Aditya Birla, which combined represent 35 percent of the global market, have completed a desktop audit of their global sourcing practices. Both producers are undergoing additional site visits at their mills to verify consistency with global sourcing.

Tangshan Sanyou is in the final stages of getting the contract formalized and setting the dates for the audit to be executed. Sanyou will be the first viscose producer in China to initiate the Canopy Style third-party verification audit.

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