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Lenzing turns used geotextiles into garments to extend lifecycle

Austrian cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing with its network of partners is working on processing geotextiles that are at the end of their two-year lifecycle into new textile fibres for garments.

Lenzing explained geotextiles are designed to protect glaciers threatened by climate change but many of these materials are made with fossil-based fibres and only have a two-year lifecycle.

Lenzing has created a sustainable biodegradable alternative that aims to prevent microplastic pollution which can harm ecosystems and enter the food chain through various organisms and animals.

Plus, it is collaborating with a network of partners, including Marchi & Fildi Spa, Candiani Denim, and Blue of a Kind to recycle the geotextiles into new textile fibres and extend their lifecycle in the form of garments.

The initial phase of this pilot project has yielded promising results, with the successful recycling of geotextiles leading to the creation of a glacier jacket.

The initiative, which is titled "Glacial Threads: From Forests to Future Textiles," was unveiled at the Palais des Nations in Geneva during the International Day of Forests celebration.

The efficacy of the biodegradable geotextiles solution was demonstrated through a field test conducted on the Stubai Glacier, where the application of Lenzing fibre-based material prevented 4m of ice from melting.

This successful trial, which was verified by the University of Innsbruck and Austrian glacier lift operators, led to the expansion of the project to other glaciers frequented by tourists across Austria 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,” noted Berndt Köll, emerging business development at Lenzing.

Florian Heubrandner, executive vice president of commercial textiles at Lenzing, emphasised the importance of such collaborative efforts in driving sustainable innovation and reducing environmental impact across the textile supply chain.

Krishna Manda, vice president of corporate sustainability at Lenzing added: "As the climate emergency accelerates glacier melting, we are at a critical point requiring transformative change for global impact.

“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.”

In February the global environmental disclosure nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) evaluated companies through its climate change, deforestation and water security questionnaires with top fashion players, including Kering, Lenzing and Inditex, achieving recognition on the A-list for their exceptional data disclosures.

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