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Five years of Refibra

Goal is to reach 50% post-consumer cotton content by 2025.

21st March 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Lenzing, Austria

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

It is now five years since Lenzing officially launched its Tencel lyocell with Refibra as the first commercially available cellulosic fibre with recycled content.

Refibra uses cotton fabric scraps as a feedstock for the lyocell production process, simultaneously recycling cloth and reducing the amount of wood pulp needed to create lyocell.

“For Lenzing, developing circular business models in the fashion industry ensures the decoupling of business growth from pressure on ecological resource consumption,” explained Lenzing’s CCO Robert van de Kerkhof at the time of Refibra’s launch. “It reduces the need to extract additional virgin resources from nature, and reduces the net impact on ecological resources.”

Because Refibra uses chemical rather than mechanical recycling, the fibres produced are identical in quality and properties to lyocell made entirely of wood. In denim, Refibra can be used as a blending partner to recycled cotton to enhance garment’s circular story and provide added textile strength.

Lenzing has continued to develop Refibra and the portion of recycled cotton content has now expanded to up to 30%

“Collaborating with our mill and brand partners over the past five years to bring scalable circular solutions to commercial reality brings the next generation to textiles,” said Tricia Carey, Lenzing’s director of global business development. “I distinctly remember our launch in Paris and repeatedly explaining the process and showing the inputs to output. There were many sceptics who thought it would never work, but here are we today and gaining even more momentum with market demand. Our goal is to reach 50% post-consumer cotton content by 2025.”

Refibra is just part of Lenzing’s commitment to leading circular solutions for the fashion industry. Its fibres are made using renewable wood, with a focus on resource efficiency. The lyocell production process uses a closed-loop system that recovers and reuses more than 99% of the solvent used.

Because they’re made of wood, cellulosic fibres are also biodegradable and if disposed of, will break down in soil or water rather than remaining in landfills or oceans.

Since its debut in 2017, Refibra has grown thanks in large part to the support of mill and brand partners, including Levis, Kings of Indigo, Closed and Boyish.

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