Lenzing, one of the leading fibre producers is set to achieve the next milestone in its sustainability journey by offering eco-friendly viscose fibre called EcoVeroTM with the lowest environmental impact in the industry as the environmental awareness of consumers has been growing steadily over the last decade, more recently in the fashion and textile industry. The announcement about Lenzing’s new innovation was made at recently held Planet Textiles 2017 in Bengaluru. In a discussion with Apparel Views Associate Editor BP Mishra, Robert van de Kerkhof (Chief Commercial Officer), Amit Gautam (VP Global BM Textiles) and Jayaraman (Reg. Director Commercial (TX&NW), SEA & SA) from Lenzing spoke about the new fibre and company’s further plans to introduce it into the Indian market. Given are some excerpts from the discussion…

Please tell us about more about EcoVero™ Fibre?

EcoVero ™, a viscose with the lowest environmental impact in the industry. This, we believe, will set a new industry-wide benchmark in the sustainability of viscose fibres. The new viscose fibre would be based on three pillars: Use of sustainable wood resources, an ecological production process and a 100 per cent supply chain transparency. These fibres are made from wood, a natural and renewable raw material, which comes from sustainable forestry plantations that are certified by industry-leading associations such as FSC. We have a comprehensive wood sourcing policy that goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the most sustainable wood sources are used for viscose production.

What was the reason behind launching the same?

The environmental awareness of consumers has been growing steadily over the last decade, more recently in the fashion and textile industry. Achieving low environmental impact requires developing eco-friendly raw materials and a sustainable manufacturing process. Textile consumption is expected to double by 2025, and the industry is anxiously looking for more sustainable solutions with minimal eco-footprint. Lenzing addresses this unmet market need for more sustainable viscose by launching EcoVero™ fibres.

Is EcoVero™ certified as per world-leading environmental manufacturing standard?

Our company enforces strict environmental standards during viscose production and has invested millions over the years to achieve an eco-friendly production process. For example, our viscose production sites where EcoVero™ fibres are produced comply with the stringent guidelines of the EU Eco Label, a worldleading environmental manufacturing standard. The EU Eco Label is a sign of environmental excellence and is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their lifecycles: From raw material extraction to production, distribution and disposal. In addition, our flagship viscose production site in Austria uses a significant amount of renewable bio-energy in the manufacturing process.

What are various advantages of EcoVero™ fibre?

With EcoVero™ we are trying to claim a space in the top of the pyramid with a fibre that we are saying is the cleanest that you will get on the planet. Our wood is certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). But most of the industry stops there.

Something that is as important is the conversion of wood into fibre. The production process is energy-intensive, chemicals intensive, water-intensive.

EcoVero™ has 50 per cent lower emissions and water impact than any viscose that you can find in the market. The Eco EU Label is only awarded to products which have a significantly lower net environmental impact than comparable products in the market.

What’s the scope for EcoVero™ fibres in the Indian market?

With sustainability issues catching up and consumers into responsible shopping behaviour, there is a good scope for EcoVeroTM to pick up. Later this year, we will bring this product from Austria to the Indian market. In the coming years, we will roll out in a bigger way. India is also having population of people who want to buy good products which are eco-friendly. Though they are price conscious they still can pay little more because they know its eco-friendly. We are trying to differentiate in the market and to cater specific audience who want to increase limited viscose capacity which is eco-friendly.

What is your increase plan for this fibre?

By 2020 we will be increasing our ability to be able to supply somewhere around 200 – 220 KT of EcoVero™ to the world market. It’s not apart from our existing viscose share but about converting half of our existing viscose customers to better viscose customers. Form the market share it will not change much but will have huge impact on the industry with this sustainable viscose. We want to supply cleanest viscose to the world, which is made with best possible technology. There will be new capacity coming into the market and we know that. But we want to make sure that if you are a responsible buyer you will go for eco viscose only.

What is Lenzing’s current cellulose share in world market?

Overall, out of world’s 6 mn tonne market, around 1 mn tonne cellulose fibre is by Lenzing. Our share comprises all three different generations of fibres from Viscose, Modal and Tencel. We have quite high share in Modal, and for Tencel we are the market leader and when it comes to viscose we have 12-13 per cent share. Whereas, we don’t have more of viscose share in India so we focus on the speciality side mainly.

When will the new fibre be made available to the consumers?

The new fibres will be launched at the global textile trade shows from this autumn onwards. Right now, the sampling phase has started and special customers are developing products using EcoVeroTM fibres. Specifically talking about the Indian market, EcoVero™ fibre would be available sometime in September here.

What will be your market strategy for EcoVero™?

Lenzing is keen to emphasize EcoVero’s transparent supply chain. With EcoVeroTM fibres, Lenzing launches one of the most environmentally friendly viscose fibres. A special manufacturing system enables them to identify EcoVero™ fibres in the final product, long after the textile processing and conversion steps. Thus, retailers and brands are fully assured that they are indeed incorporating the eco-friendly viscose, and not a generic market viscose.

With this special identification technology for EcoVero™ fibres, we are supporting the trend in the fashion industry towards greater transparency. It is becoming increasingly important to know where the products come from and which path they have covered, these fibres offer an extensive marketing service package and are part of Lenzing’s Branding & Licensing Programme. Fabrics containing EcoVero™ fibres can be certified at the company’s in-house certification centres in Europe and Asia.