The need to implement sustainable processes within the fashion supply chain has never been greater. With the fashion industry’s growing awareness of the environmental and social impact of the textile sector, the focus on adopting innovative solutions continues to gain momentum. Sustainability is now a key business imperative in supply chain management for many fashion brands and retailers, despite the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic. With more fashion companies being encouraged to create more sustainable supply chains, leading fiber maker Lenzing aims to support their transition.
Placing sustainable development at the heart of its corporate values, the global company seeks to help industry players and fashion players to conduct more circular and transparent business operations through its products and partnerships. To learn more about how Lenzing is working to bring about positive change within the fashion industry and to help stakeholders adopt sustainable practices within their own supply chains, we we spoke with Peter Bartsch, vice president of sustainability at Lenzing.
Q: Why is working and promoting transparency so important to Lenzing?
A: “When you work in a company as large as Lenzing, not everyone is aware of all the moving parts. Working transparently is a great way to identify gaps and see where we can improve. It’s not always clearly visible, so increasing transparency helps us identify where we can implement changes. Workplace transparency also promotes diverse thinking in different areas to move our business forward and helps us better assess potential risks and mitigate them, which is very important.
At the same time, we must meet the needs of stakeholders and customers. Brands and retailers have clear expectations regarding raw materials and their performance, while NGOs hold us to their standards to continue our partnerships. From these expectations, many stakeholder initiatives have been formed. External investors and legislation like the EU’s Green Deal also demand full transparency from companies, especially in environmental matters. They want to know our environmental and social impact, because investors must assess their funding against ESG indicators. We want to show stakeholders that when they invest in Lenzing there is no risk and that they are working for the greatest good. ”
Q: How is Lenzing partnering with other industry players to bring about lasting systemic change?
A: “We first identify our main objectives and areas in which we need to take immediate action, such as promoting the circular economy and fighting climate change. These are issues with a great deal of uncertainty as to the best course of action and are too important to deal with on their own. It is important to work with other stakeholders and organizations to overcome these obstacles, because together we have more power to develop solutions.
We regularly collaborate with leading multi-stakeholder initiatives and industry partners like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, as well as academics, brands, retailers and NGOs to develop tools and methodologies capable of evaluating different products and processes. We can’t make large-scale changes on our own, so we work with partners throughout our supply chain. Together, we aim to develop the best possible tools to improve our operations and implement them accordingly. We also work with brands to drive sustainable innovation in product development, such as using our TENCEL ™ brand fibers with REFIBRA ™ technology to produce garments. Our partnerships are centered on open communication and mutual support.
We take a cross-sectoral view, as many of these issues overlap with other sectors, providing opportunities to exchange knowledge and resources. These discussions should not be viewed at a competitive level, as we overcome common challenges together. ”
Q: How does Lenzing help industry stakeholders pursue more transparent and circular business models?
A: “We are doing this through our own engagement with stakeholders and industry partners, supporting them through projects in accordance with our circular business approach. We work closely with partners to help develop the necessary tools, from tracking and traceability to new resources and logistics processes, so that they can monitor their products at every step of the value chain. Last year, in cooperation with TextileGenesis ™, we introduced a digital platform for textile supply chain traceability made possible by blockchain technology. The platform provides customers, partners and consumers with an overview of the entire textile value chain. It is clear that supply chain traceability has now become a top priority for clothing and home. We hope that they will see us as a role model for positive change and join us in motivating others in the textile industry to adopt more sustainable ways of working.
In addition, we strive to promote the conservation and restoration of resources. This is something we do through our TENCEL ™ and VEOCEL ™ branded offerings. We want to offer our partners the peace of mind that they will receive the brand fibers they have consciously chosen and ordered. For example, our fiber identification technology ensures the traceability of our TENCEL ™ brand fiber. For brands that use TENCEL ™ fiber in their products, this can give them the credibility to communicate sustainability efforts, fight greenwashing and improve their own brand’s sustainability credentials. Fiber identification will be part of the fabric certification process within our Lenzing electronic branding service, allowing producers, retailers and brand owners to easily track their fibers throughout the production process. This allows customers to differentiate between brands using ethically sourced materials and to make an informed decision. ”
Photo credit: Lenzing