Lenzing combines glacier protection and circularity for textiles in partnership with Candiani Denim

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The Lenzing Group is a leading supplier of regenerated cellulose to the textile and nonwoven industries. The company recently unveiled a unique and innovative initiative aimed at protecting our glaciers while also encouraging responsible and circular practices in these sectors. We are proud to be a part of this initiative alongside many other exceptional partners!

What’s Glacial Threads: From Forests to Future Textiles?

The Glacial Threads: From Forests to Future Textiles presentation took place on March 21st at the Palais des Nations, United Nations Office in Geneva, on the occasion of the International Day of Forests.

The concept where it was born aimed to address the issue of global warming, which is causing the melting of glaciers. Geotextiles, which are used to protect ice and snow, contain non-woven materials made from fossil-based fibers. Unfortunately, these fibers release microplastics into the environment, which are transported to the valley through streams. Small organisms and animals can ingest these microplastics, leading to their entry into the food chain. So, what can we do to solve this problem?

Nonwovens that contain cellulosic LENZING™ fibers are a great solution as they are biodegradable at the end of their life and can be completely recycled. In a field test on the Stubai Glacier, four meters of ice were saved from melting by covering a small area with this new material. A study conducted by the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian glacier lift operators on the Stubai Glacier in Tyrol confirmed the effectiveness of this approach. The pilot project was successfully expanded to all Austrian glaciers affected by tourism in 2023.

“We are delighted with the positive results and see the project as a sustainable solution for glacier protection – not only in Austria but also beyond the country’s borders,” said Berndt Köll, Emerging Business Development at Lenzing. The pilot project won the prestigious Swiss BIO TOP Awards for wood and material innovations last year.

The pilot project proves the long-lasting benefits of circularity

Lenzing decided to expand the potential of its pioneering project to promote collaborative efforts towards circularity in the textile value chain. Typically, geotextiles can only be used for two years, and then the nonwovens need to be disposed of. To address this issue, Lenzing is working with a network of committed partners to process geotextiles into new fibers that can be used to create new garments.

We are delighted to participate in the first phase of the pilot project with Lenzing and other amazing partners to produce a Glacier Jacket made from the recycling of nonwovens used for geotextiles. The network also includes Marchi & Fildi Spa, a specialist in mechanical recycling, and the avant-garde fashion studio Blue of a Kind.

Circularity is a powerful tool that helps us create sustainable solutions with lasting benefits. The innovative concept developed with Lenzing not only safeguards our glaciers but also establishes a network between Austria and Italy to repurpose the materials and extend the lifespan of their fibers. We have taken glacier waste yarn and used it as a weft in combination with a warp to create a white denim fabric. The fabric was then sent to a manufacturer who turned it into a garment. This garment can be recycled multiple times, giving it new life and contributing to a never-ending cycle of sustainability.

Our glacier denim fabric is made using a 3x1 right-hand twill construction. It is a blend of recycled nonwovens, TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers produced with REFIBRA™ technology, which uses cotton textile waste along with wood as raw material, and organic cotton. The presence of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers produced with REFIBRA™ technology gives the ecru denim a brighter color, similar to the white tint of a glacier.

“The collaboration is a testament to the power of partnership”

“This pioneering innovation project brings together trusted like-minded companies and partners across the supply chain, demonstrating the companies’ shared vision and commitment to the circular economy. The collaboration is a testament to the power of partnership; driving innovation and sustainability, reducing environmental impact and encouraging collaborative action against climate change for global impact across the textile industry,” stated Florian Heubrandner, Executive Vice President Commercial Textiles at Lenzing.

“As the climate emergency accelerates glacier melting, we are at a critical point requiring transformative change for global impact. Nature stimulates our creativity and inspires us to truly innovative ideas. As part of Lenzing's ongoing commitment to intertwine innovation and sustainability, this pioneering project represents the balanced connection between technology and nature, showcasing collaborative circular sustainable practices whilst acting as a rallying call for collective action. Together with our network of passionate industry experts, we can lead towards a substantial positive impact on our planet, safeguarding future generations. This project is an example to show the power of possibility when we collaborate together,” added Krishna Manda, Vice President Corporate Sustainability at Lenzing.

This innovative concept was also artistically staged by the Italian maestro Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of the most influential contemporary artists.

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