How Lenzing promotes transparency in the supply chains of the fashion industry

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There has never been a greater need to ensure sustainability in the fashion supply chain. The fashion industry is becoming more aware of the negative environmental and social consequences of the textile industry. This has led to a greater focus on innovative solutions. Many fashion retailers and brands recognize that sustainability is a critical business imperative in managing their supply chains, despite the economic difficulties caused by the pandemic. Lenzing, a leading fiber manufacturer, is supporting fashion companies in creating more sustainable supply chains.

Placing sustainability at the core of its company values, the global company seeks to support industry stakeholders and fashion players pursue more circular and transparent business operations through its products and partnerships. Peter Bartsch, Vice-President of Corporate Sustainability at Lenzing, spoke to us about Lenzing’s efforts to create positive change in the fashion industry and encourage stakeholders to adopt sustainable practices within their supply chains.

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Q: Why is working and promoting transparency so important to Lenzing?

Transparency is key to identifying gaps and highlighting areas for improvement. It isn’t always easy to see these things so transparency allows us to identify areas where we can make improvements. Transparency at work promotes diversity of thinking and allows us to better assess and mitigate potential risks.

At the same time, we have to deal with stakeholder and customer needs. Retailers and brands have specific expectations about raw materials and their performance. NGOs, on the other hand, hold us accountable to their standards in order to maintain our partnerships. Many stakeholder initiatives were born from these expectations. Companies must also be transparent about their environmental policies and external investors. Investors must evaluate their funding in terms of ESG indicators in order to understand our social and environmental impact. We want to demonstrate to stakeholders that Lenzing is risk-free and that they work for the greater good.

Q: How is Lenzing partnering with other industry players to bring around sustainable systemic change?

These are complex issues that are difficult to solve alone. These issues can be overcome by working with other stakeholders or organisations, which will give us more power to find solutions.

We regularly engage 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 which are able to assess different products and processes. Because we cannot effect large-scale change on our own, we collaborate with all of our supply chains. We work together to create the best tools to improve our operations, and then implement them. Brands can also benefit from our collaboration, such as using TENCEL(tm), a brand of fibers that uses REFIBRA(tm), technology to make garments. Partnerships are built on open communication and mutual support.

We take on a cross-industry view as many of these issues overlap with other sectors, which provides opportunities to exchange knowledge and resources. These discussions shouldn’t be seen as a competition, since we are all working together to overcome common challenges.

Q: How does Lenzing support industry stakeholders to pursue more transparent and circular business models?

Partner organizations work together to develop the necessary tools, including track and trace, new resources, and logistical processes. This allows them to monitor their products at all stages of the value chain. In collaboration with TextileGenesis ™, last year we launched a digital platform that allows textile supply chain traceability using blockchain technology. Customers, partners, as well as consumers, have access to the entire value chain of textiles through this platform. It is clear that supply chain traceability is now a priority for apparel and home. We hope they see us as role models for positive change, and will join us in encouraging other members of the textile industry to adopt more sustainable ways to work.

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In addition, we strive to promote the conservation and restoration of resources. We do this through our branded TENCEL(tm), and VEOCEL ™. We want our partners to have the assurance that they will receive the branded fibres they have ordered. Our fiber identification technology, for example, ensures that our TENCEL ™ branded fiber can be traced. Brands that use TENCEL ™ fiber in products can gain credibility and be able to combat greenwashing, communicate sustainability efforts and improve their brand’s sustainability credentials. Our Lenzing E-Branding Service will include fiber identification as part of fabric certification. This will allow producers, retailers, brand owners, and others to track the fibers during the manufacturing process. Customers can now distinguish between ethically sourced brands and make informed decisions.