RGE Next-Generation Textile Fibre Progress Report 2021

Page 1


NEXT-GENERATION TEXTILE FIBRE Innovation & Technology Progress Report




04 An Integral Part of the Textile Value Chain

10 Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration

06 Our Investment Commitment

18 Accelerating In-House R&D

07 2020-2021 Milestones

24 Financials

08 Vice Chairman’s Message

26 Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands & Retailers




An Integral Part of the Textile Value Chain RGE is a group of resource-based manufacturing companies with global operations. Founded in 1973, our purpose is to improve lives by developing resources sustainably.


s a supplier of cellulosic

drive change.

fibres, our fibre-related businesses are integrated

Our deep expertise in the cellulosic

vertically from sustainable

fibre business and integrated

plantation management to textile

capabilities allow us to have full

fibre and yarn production. We are

control over product quality,

the world’s largest producer of

accelerate scalable innovation

viscose fibre with strong presence

through practical industry

in Asia where textile demand growth

collaboration, and mitigate supply

intersects with the textile production

chain risks.

hub, presenting a real opportunity to

Bracell is a leading manufacturer

Sateri is the world’s largest producer

Linz (Nanjing) is a maker of high

of dissolving pulp and specialty

of viscose fibre, a natural and

quality viscose and lyocell yarn

cellulose. From its eucalyptus

biodegradable raw material found

products. Sateri acquired the

plantations in Brazil, Bracell’s mills

in everyday items like textiles,

company in May 2016 as part of its

in Bahia and São Paulo produce a

baby wipes and personal hygiene

strategy to be closer to customers

combined 750,000 tonnes of pulp

products. Its five mills in China

and improve quality. The advanced

a year. Its expansion project in São

produce about 1.5 million metric

mill adopts open-end, vortex and

Paulo for a new generation and

tonnes of viscose fibre yearly. Sateri

compact Siro spinning technologies

100% fossil fuel-free pulp mill will

also produces spunlace non-woven

with a total converted capacity of

boost Bracell’s overall dissolving pulp

fabric, Lyocell, and FINEX™, a

52,000 spindles.

production capacity to 2.0 million

recycled textile fibre.

tonnes. www.sateri.com www.bracell.com

Plantations & Dissolving Pulp

Cellulosic Fibre


APRIL Group is one of the world’s

Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) is

Asia Pacific Yarn (APY) is a fully

largest and most technologically

the first fully integrated viscose

integrated viscose staple fibre yarn

advanced producers of fibre, pulp

staple fibre producer in Asia from

manufacturer, co-located in Riau,

and paper, with plantations and

forest plantations to viscose.

Indonesia with APR. APY applies

manufacturing operations in Riau,

Its 240,000-tonne mill, which is

the latest yarn spinning technology

Indonesia. APRIL manages about

co-located with APRIL in Riau,

to produce an annual capacity of

450,000 hectares of renewable

Indonesia, uses the latest production

7,560 metric tonnes of high quality

plantations. The company’s pulp and

technology to produce high quality

yarn products or equivalent to a

paper mill has an annual production

viscose fibres to meet textile needs.

total converted capacity of 32,000

capacity of 2.8 million tonnes of pulp and 1.15 million tonnes of paper.

spindles with open-end-rotors, ring www.aprayon.com

spindles and vortex positions.



An Integral Part of the Textile Value Chain

An Integral Part of the Textile Value Chain


Our Investment Commitment To drive the development of groundbreaking solutions in alternative cellulosic feedstock and clean manufacturing technology in our businesses, RGE made a commitment to invest US$200 million into next-generation textile fibre innovation and technology in 2019.

2020-2021 Milestones

The investment is over 10 years and allocated to three focus areas: scaling up proven clean technology in fibre manufacturing (70%), pilot-scale production to commercial scale (20%), and R&D in emerging frontier



solutions (10%).

Launch of Sateri 2030 Vision: Our Decade of Change & Action

While we are technology agnostic, our focus is on cellulosic textile fibres as they are renewable and biodegradable. We execute our investments by investing in start-ups, sourcing ready solutions and advancing in-



Lyocell Production Expansion Plans in China

house R&D solutions.


$200 Million usd into next-generation textile fibre innovation. Target allocation over 10 years.

2021 10%




2021 R&D in emerging frontier solutions

Pilot-scale production to commercial scale


Our Investment Commitment

Formalised Strategic Partnership with Textile & Fashion Federation

Investing in Start-Ups Sourcing Ready Solutions In-House R&D Solutions


EU-BAT Compliance for All Sateri Mills

Clean technology in fibre manufacturing


Our Investment Approach

Further Investment in Infinited Fiber Company



Formalised Research Collaboration with Nanyang Technological University Singapore

2020-2021 Milestones


will contain alternative or recycled

recycling plant to demonstrate a

materials. Similarly, under APRIL’s

method of textile recycling that

2030 Vision, 20% of its fibre for

meets strict urban environmental

viscose production will be sourced

requirement. Complementing this

from recycled textiles.

effort is a strategic partnership with Singapore’s Textile and Fashion

Securing textile waste feedstock

Federation where we seek to, among

is a business imperative, and its

other goals, advance research and

costs and availability will determine

innovation in circular economy

the commercial viability and ability

approaches to fashion waste in Asia.

to scale. To promote textile fibre

Vice Chairman’s Message


s the world’s largest

every 5 to 7 years before replanting.

producer of viscose

On average, we plant about one

fibre, a global leader

million trees daily. Textile waste, on

in the production of

the other hand, is a global problem

dissolving wood pulp, and one of

that the industry needs to solve.

the largest and most technologically

To accelerate circularity in the

advanced and efficient makers in

textile industry, we are investing in

the world, RGE takes pride that our

innovation to mainstream the use

products are biodegradable and

of recycled textiles in man-made

manufactured using sustainable

cellulosic fibre production.

methods. Last year, Sateri announced its


Our viscose fibres are sourced from

2030 Vision for sustainable growth

sustainably managed and certified

where we will utilise textile waste

plantations in Brazil and Indonesia.

to produce viscose products with

Trees in these tropical countries

50% recycled content by 2023,

are a fast-growing and renewable

and 100% by 2030. In addition, by

resource that can be harvested

2025, 20% of Sateri’s feedstock

Vice Chairman’s Message

recycling in China, we partnered

We are pleased that all five of

the China Association of Circular

Sateri’s viscose mills in China are

Economy on a comprehensive study

now fully compliant with the emission

on the industrial-scale textile waste

limits set out in the European Union

recycling landscape in the country.

Best Available Techniques Reference

We also collaborated with Reverse

Document (EU-BAT BREF), two

Resources and Closed Loop Fashion

years ahead of schedule. In Brazil,

Consulting to understand pre-

we completed construction of the

consumer textile waste availability

world’s largest dissolving pulp mill

and readiness in Indonesia, Sri Lanka

which uses cutting-edge technology

and Bangladesh.

for fossil fuel-free generation. The São Paulo mill is energy self-

Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions,

sufficient and with surplus funnelled

which have the made in-person plant

to the Brazilian power grid as clean,

visits that are crucial to technical

high-quality energy.

projects impossible, our collaboration with Infinited Fiber Company has

These achievements underscore

continued. We are pleased to have

our commitment to continuous

made further investments in Infinited

improvement in clean production and

Fiber Company in July 2021; our

resource utilisation efficiency. We will

investment marks another milestone

continue to pursue manufacturing

for both companies as we seek

excellence and invest in best-in-class

to scale up next-generation fibre

technologies for all our facilities as


part of our commitment towards closed-loop and cleaner production.

To complement and bolster our in-house R&D capabilities, we

We look forward to a more

entered into an agreement with

sustainable future, and to sharing

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological

more of our efforts with you.

University for a five-year research collaboration. A key research

Bey Soo Khiang

outcome is the translation into a

November 2021

functioning metropolitan pilot textile

Vice Chairman’s Message


Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration

RGE has a dedicated investment function with personnel recruited from the private equity and venture capital industry.




R&D and investment teams have

collaboration with our existing



continuously sourced investment and

relationships. In parallel, we

partnership opportunities, facilitating

contributed to the overall ecosystem

collaboration with innovative

of next-generation textile fibre

technology companies in areas of

innovation, working with other

alternative feedstock and clean

investors actively investing in similar


technologies to evaluate projects

Types of Investments Explored (since 2019)

Types of Technologies Explored (since 2019) 33% Alternative Solvent

29% Textile Recycling

38% Alternative Feedstock

ince the start of our

Over the past 12 months, we


continued to build up our investment

textile fibre innovation

and partnership pipeline, as well

initiative in 2019, our

as deepen and advance potential

that could benefit from RGE’s Our investment review process


takes into consideration various factors that include founders’

While we remain committed and

vision and mission, pathway to

optimistic on our innovation journey

commercialisation, scale-up risks,

working with a diverse group of

and overall fit with our existing

early-stage technology companies,

operations and long-term business

we recognise the complexity, time


and capital intensity in scaling up new technologies within our sector,

The investment process combines

especially in the current challenging

investment discipline with our deep

operating environment in the post

industry knowledge that includes a

COVID-19 world.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) framework. This framework provides

Our goal remains singular:

our team clarity on technical risks,

achieving commercial scale where

and also informs us how we may

possible to be cost-competitive,

support and complement a potential

while maintaining or improving on

investee and technology partner with

consistency in quality.

our internal know-how.


Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration

Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration


Infinited Fiber Company Sateri continued its strategic

facilities in the years leading to 2024.

collaboration with Infinited Fiber

The factory, which will use household

Company and participated in the

textile waste as raw material, is

company’s EUR30 million funding

expected to be operational in 2024

round which attracted new and

with an annual production capacity

existing investors such as H&M

of 30,000 metric tonnes. The

Group, adidas, BESTSELLER and

engineering progress supported by

Zalando. The new funding enables

the additional funds also accelerates

Infinited Fiber Company to carry out

Infinited Fiber Company’s ongoing

the work needed for preparations to

collaboration and potential

build its flagship factory in Finland,

technology licensing with Sateri.

and to increase production at its pilot

Renewcell Since the signing of a Memorandum

consistency and quality even as

of Understanding with Re:newcell in

viscose fibres comprising varying

mid-2019, we have been conducting

percentages, up to 20%, have been

trials with Re:newcell’s Circulose

successfully produced. We remain in

pulp, recycled from cotton textile

discussion with Re:newcell to offtake

waste, in our mills in China and

a sizeable pulp volume from their

Indonesia. The trials remain

2022 production.

focussed on ensuring performance



Sateri produces 20% RCS-certified

uptake since it was unveiled in mid-

recycled viscose using Swedish

2020, we remain committed to the

company Södra’s Once More pulp

use of Södra’s pulp and are exploring

for its FINEX™ product. While the

the possibility of joint sourcing of raw

product has limited commercial

materials in China with them.

Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration

Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration


Aalto University In 2019, we provided full sponsorship

of them has since completed her

to two of our research staff members

research and returned to Indonesia

for their post-doctoral research

as a specialist researcher on

studies on clean manufacturing

recycled textiles and new man-made

technologies in Aalto University

fibres. The other remains in Finland

under the tutelage of renowned

working on Ioncell technology.

academic, Dr Herbert Sixta. One

Nanyang Technological University Singapore A 5-year research collaboration

the establishment of a low carbon

on innovation in textile recycling

and green urban-fit pilot textile

technology was formalised between

recycling plant in Singapore that is

NTU Singapore and RGE in

capable of converting local textile

November 2021. A key anticipated

waste into new raw material for use

outcome from the collaboration is

in, or export from, the city-state.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland APRIL continues to work with

world to utilise the foam-forming

VTT and 51 other companies in a

process. The selected piloting

three-year ‘Piloting Alternatives

targets include fibre-based materials

for Plastics’ project which seeks

to replace the plastics used in, for

to accelerate new generation fibre

example, food packaging, filters, and

products towards industrial scale

textiles. Based on the development

production. The pilots are being

work, we have more options to

carried out at VTT in Jyväskylä, with

develop the downstream business of

access to, among other things, the

pulp and viscose fibre.

first research environment in the


Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration

Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration


China Association of Circular Economy (CACE) Sateri commissioned a study with CACE on the recycling and utilisation of textile waste in China. The study, which analyses the output, utilisation, demand, investment risks and regulatory landscape of the textile waste industry, was completed in September 2021. Findings relating to textile waste in the hospitality industry will be followed up on.

Reverse Resources and Closed Loop Fashion Consulting In collaboration with Reverse Resources and Closed Loop Fashion Consulting, APR concluded a survey to map out the potentially available volumes of preproduction textile waste in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Over a hundred participants completed the survey or interviews. The results will inform APR’s feedstock procurement strategy to achieve its goal of sourcing 20% of its feedstock for viscose from alternative or recycled materials by 2030. A summary of results will be shared as knowledge contribution to the industry.

Textile & Fashion Federation Singapore (TaFF) RGE and TaFF formalised a 3-year strategic partnership to advocate sustainable industry practices within Southeast Asia through programmes implementation, policies, research, innovations and education.


Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration

Investing in Partnerships & Collaboration


Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation


GE has developed dedicated in-house Research and Development (R&D) capabilities over many years. We have about 700 staff members involved in fibre R&D functions across Brazil, China and

Indonesia, with a majority engaged in forestry R&D in areas such as silviculture and land use intensification and fibre yield optimisation. Our key advantage is the possession of expertise across dissolving pulp, viscose, lyocell and yarn spinning in different parts of our businesses and locations. This allows us to integrate our R&D competencies and harness synergies along the cellulosic fibre production value chain. Currently, there are 100 staff members, including 12 with PhD and post-doctoral qualifications and 14 with Masters Degrees from various nationalities, involved in textile fibrerelated industrial R&D. We will continue to grow this pool of professionals and expand its range of competencies.


Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation

Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation


Our international team of textile fibre R&D professionals

Textile-to-Textile Recycling Since 2019, our in-house R&D team

spinability running recycled textiles

has been focused on producing

at 50% ratio, with other 50% being

quality viscose using recycled cotton

regular dissolving wood pulp, at

textiles as feedstock. These trials

maximum viscose pilot plant speed

have hastened significantly, enabled

capacity of 70m/min. With 80%

by the operationalisation of a fully

mixed dissolving wood pulp, there

automated pilot plant in Kerinci, Riau,

is good spinability at 50 -70m/min.

Indonesia which models the entire

The overall performance of mixed

viscose manufacturing process.

recycled textile fibre produced through this method is on par with

In the past year, as part of a textile-

regular viscose fibres.

to-textile recycling project, the in-house R&D team has worked with

To commercialise this breakthrough,

various materials such as denim,

we are planning to build a 24-tonne

combed cotton, and viscose. We

textile recycling facility in Kerinci.

are now able to remove up to 50%

Engineering design and further

polyester-mixed cotton material with

commercial feasibility plans are

high viscosity control, as well as

being undertaken and an investment

remove dyes using a single bleaching

decision will be made in 2022. The


same investment review process and considerations apply to our in-house

The team has also achieved good


Urban-Fit Textile Recycling Pilot Plant The current process we employ is reliant on the use of chemicals and effluent

Alternative Feedstock Sourcing

management system which is only available in an industrial complex setting. Granted that more countries are imposing bans on the import of waste, there

Planning for cost-effective and high

is an increasing need to develop a textile recycling method that is urban-

volumes of pre- and post-consumer

fit (ie. low carbon and chemical emissions and energy efficient) which will

textile waste has become an urgency

allow countries to turn local textile waste into new material or feedstock for

for our sourcing teams even while

domestic use or export.

we prepare to scale recycled fibre production. In collaboration with

To this end, we have formalised a 5-year research collaboration with Nanyang

CACE, Reverse Resources, and

Technological University Singapore (NTU Singapore) which boasts a world-

Closed Loop Fashion Consulting,

leading material science faculty. A key outcome from the collaboration is the

we have completed studies that

establishment of a pilot urban-fit textile recycling plant in Singapore which

examine textile waste stocks and

can later be scaled and replicated in other parts of Asia.

flows in China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Findings from the

The RGE-NTU Sustainable Textiles Research Centre will also conduct

studies will inform our procurement

research around challenges such as dye removal and alternative use for

strategies, as we work towards

by-products following fibre separation. The Centre, which marries the

delivering on our commitments to

competencies of our in-house team in pulp and viscose production with NTU’s

increase the volume of textile waste

deep understanding of polymer science, will facilitate technology transfer and

used in our viscose production as

drive continuous improvement in textile recycling innovation and technology.

well as recycled content in our fibre products by 2030.


Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation

Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation





FINEX™ is Sateri’s marquee brand

market demand for FINEX™ has

Lyocell by Sateri is manufactured

new Lyocell application technologies

for Recycled Claim Standard (RCS)

been limited, in part due to weak

using closed-loop technology,

and advance research.

certified fibre launched in 2020. It is

market sentiments brought on by

requiring minimal chemical input

produced with up to 20% recycled

the COVID-19 pandemic. At present,

during the production process,

Sateri has ambitious plans to

content using a 35,000-tonne per

16,000 FINEX™ hangtags can

and utilising an organic solvent

expand Lyocell production in China,

annum commercial production

be found in over 600 stores, with

that can be almost fully recovered

reaching up to 500,000 tonnes

line. Despite the ability to scale

ongoing efforts to promote uptake

and recycled. In 2020, Sateri

total planned annual capacity by

up production, partnerships with

through consumer education on

commenced Lyocell production on

2025. Work is underway for two new

leading fashion brands in China,

the performance and benefits of

its first 20,000-tonne per annum line

100,000-tonne facilities in Jiangsu

and the high quality of the fibre,

recycled textile fibres.

in Rizhao, Shandong, China, where

province. Researchers at the R&D

we have also built an R&D Innovation

Innovation Centre have successfully

Centre with a 5,000-tonne per

developed anti-fibrillation technology

annum Lyocell pilot production line

that will be deployed at the new

dedicated for the development of


Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation

Accelerating In-House R&D Capability in Textile Fibre Innovation


2021 Financials 4% Bringing pilot-scale production to commercial scale

Actual Expenditure (in USD million)

28% R&D in emerging frontier solutions

68% Scaling up proven clean tech in fibre manufacturing









Textile waste study - China



Textile waste study – Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh



Strategic partnership with Textile & Fashion Federation



Sateri R&D Innovation Centre and 5,000-tonne pilot line



Kerinci viscose pilot plant



2 x post-doc research sponsorship



Piloting alternatives for plastics research project






Scaling up proven clean technology in fibre manufacturing Lyocell 20,000-tonne production line

Bringing pilot-scale production to commercial scale*

R&D in emerging frontier solutions

*Investment amount in Infinited Fibre Company is bound by agreement confidentiality 24

2021 Financials

2021 Financials


This guide was published by Apparel Insider in April 2021 and reproduced here with permission.

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers Polyester, cotton … viscose. As textile fibres go, the former two are household names, well known inside and outside the global fashion industry. But what about viscose?


hile the use of viscose

Moreover, while cotton and polyester

in apparel has been

remain the dominant fibre types

around for more

used in apparel, neither is without

than a century, there

its challenges, which are well

has been a renewed interest in this


wood-based fibre in recent years. This fact is reflected by a steady

Thus, brands are increasingly open

increase in its global share of the

to looking at new and novel fibre

overall fibre mix.

types as well as ways they can incorporate viscose fibres into their

The interest in viscose among

mix, whether as single use or fibre

brands has several dimensions. On


the one hand, fashion brands and retailers are giving increased thought

To provide guidance for brands and

to the issue of fibre use (and mixes)

retailers, this paper looks at the

generally for a variety of financial,

global viscose market, developments

sustainability-related and regulatory

in viscose production methods,


sustainability issues, recycling opportunities, forestry challenges and pricing.


Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers


Viscose: An Overview Viscose falls under the classification of man-made cellulosic fibre (MMCF). Charles Frederick Cross, Edward John Bevan, and Clayton Beadle discovered the viscose process in the 1890s and patented the first viscose. Viscose is commonly made by dissolving wood pulp from trees such as birch, pine, and eucalyptus (although, in theory, many other cellulosic plants could be used for the process). The manufacturing process for viscose entails the wood being chipped and cooked into pulp and then dissolved in chemicals to form a pulp slurry. The slurry is pressed to create alkali cellulose, and this alkali cellulose is treated with carbon disulphide and dissolved in sodium hydroxide to create viscose. A honey-like viscose solution is filtered through a fine spinneret and transformed into filaments or regenerated cellulose. Finally, these filaments are spun into yarn which can be either woven or knitted into viscose fabric.

Applications A highly versatile material, viscose is valued due to its cotton-like qualities. The fibre has a wide range of applications, ranging from fashion – by far its largest market – to nonwovens such as facial masks and wipes. Viscose blends well with other fibres including cotton and polyester and has many special properties – being breathable and absorbent as well as dyeing easily. It is lightweight, 100 per cent bio-based and biodegradable. The fibre is increasingly popular due to its blendability with other fibres, and also acts as a substitute to silk and cotton.


Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers


The State of the Market The global market for textile fibres has almost doubled

World Fibre Use

over the past 2 decades and the trend is upwards with an overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7

Overall Percentage Change (2000 - 2019) 100

per cent in 2019. 80

Since 2000, the market share of MMCF has increased


from 5 to 6 per cent, with CAGR of 5.2 per cent. Polyester’s market share has risen from 50 to 65 per cent (CAGR of 5.1 per cent) while cotton’s market share

MMCF Fibre Use (2019)



has declined steadily from 35 per cent in 2001 to 23

cellulosic alternative to meet growing fibre demand.



20 19

20 17


20 18

20 15

20 16

20 13


20 14

20 11

20 12


20 10















02 20



production stagnating, MMCFs are turned to as the







Acetate Tow
















per cent in 2019 (CAGR 1.5 per cent). With global cotton

World VSF Capacity (2021)

31% Others

MMCF such as viscose/rayon, Lyocell, Modal and Cupro, form the second largest cellulosic fibre group in the global textile industry after cotton.

The Changing Market

World Fibre Use (2001)









The largest share of fibres in the

market include Birla, Zhongtai,

MMCF category is viscose staple

Tangshan and Lenzing.

fibre (VSF) which accounted for

Total: 57 MT

79 per cent of MMCFs in 2019

The top five players in the market

according to estimates by Sateri.

make up almost 70 per cent of global market share.

Global VSF capacity for 2021 is

World Fibre Use (2019)





estimated at 7.5MT. This is based on

In the first decade of the 21st

information from a range of sources,

century, China quadrupled its

including Sateri, Lenzing, Birla and

viscose production capacity, and


now represents almost 66 per cent of the global viscose market.

The largest player in the VSF market MMCFs




Total: 113 MT


Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

is Sateri, which accounts for around

Indonesia and India are the world’s

20 per cent of viscose production

second and third largest producers.

volume. Other key players in the

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers


Viscose, Lyocell – what is the difference? We often hear the terms viscose and

Lyocell fibres were first developed

Lyocell used interchangeably. So

and manufactured by Courtaulds

how do they differ?

Fibers, UK, in the 1980s and branded as Tencel. Lenzing produced Lyocell

The key difference is viscose and

under the brand name ‘Lyocell by

Lyocell use different technologies

Lenzing’ and subsequently bought

and chemicals to regenerate

over the Tencel brand.

cellulose, with Lyocell the only production method which excludes

The world Lyocell capacity is

carbon disulphide.

currently at 0.54MT and the market is expected to grow significantly,

The Lyocell process operates in a

with the sustainability credentials

‘closed loop’, which means most

of Lyocell’s production methods an

of the water and solvent in the

alluring proposition for brands. That

process are recycled for reuse.

said, Lyocell still only represents a

Here, an organic solvent called

fraction of global viscose production

N-Methylmorphine N-oxide (NMMO)

and the price premium it attracts

is used as an alternative to carbon

remains a barrier for some brands.

disulphide to dissolve wood pulp. The expiration of related technology patents for Lyocell

patents, there are high start-up costs, including the

production in recent years and improved manufacturing

technology involved.

capabilities in the industry have opened up the Lyocell There is some Lyocell production capacity in China but

World Lyocell Capacity (2021)

market to other producers.



Sateri is one of the large-scale manufacturers to step

producers in China are only producing around 10,000


Baoding Swan

into the Lyocell market. In March 2021, the business

tonnes per year.”




Hubel Jinhuan




CTA Green Fibre





the challenge is to reach high levels of capacity. Most

announced plans to expand its Lyocell production in China and is targeting annual capacity of up to 500,000

In 2019, Lenzing announced plans to establish a

tonnes by 2025.

100,000 tonne Lyocell production facility in Thailand. Expect further announcements from the key players

Tom Liu Sateri’s Vice President and General Manager of

in the Lyocell market moving forwards. This space is

Lyocell and Nonwovens Business. We asked him where

moving fast, with Asia the favoured destination for new

he sees the Lyocell market looking ahead. He told us:

production units.

“There are barriers to entry in the market. As well as



Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers


producers to move towards a

These are regenerating ecosystems;

closed-loop manufacturing system,

producing with zero harm; enabling

where emission controls and

circular systems; creating prosperity;

chemical recovery rates are in line

and upholding rights.

with best practices – the so-called EU Best Available Techniques (BAT).

On the issue of chemicals, the Zero Discharge of Hazardous

Many of the leading viscose

Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation in

manufacturers in the world,

2020 expanded the scope of its

accounting for more than 50 per

work to cover the environmental

cent of viscose production, have

impact of MMCF. The first focus of

committed to align their performance

its work here is viscose and modal.

with EU BAT at all their facilities in

Consequently, new ZDHC Guidelines

the coming years.

now offer brands and manufacturing facilities producing MMCF an aligned

Sustainability Key Developments viscose has increasingly come

about responsible sourcing of

for instance, we recover more

under the microscope from NGOs,


than 96 per cent of total sulphur components.

In recent years, the more reputable players in the industry have certainly

“But we can only do that because

The concerns around viscose

helped to drive up standards in

we have invested heavily on the

production are that because it is

production methods.

operational side of the business. In parts of the market, there

production is clean or not? And how

accounts for more than 50 per cent

do production standards vary around

of the world’s viscose production

the world? Sateri’s Christian Cai:

capacity to promote responsible

“When you’re serving global markets,

production of viscose.

it does not matter where you are

Other work in the field includes an initiative led by Forum for the Future and Textile Exchange as well as key players in the MMCF value chain.

damage to the local environment

of Operations, says: “Traditional

production, closed loop and clean

in instances where production is

viscose production is reliant on

Together, these have developed a

manufacturing. It is not all push from

handled irresponsibly.

industrial chemicals and if not

‘shared vision’ for the viscose value


chain covering five areas of action.

An influential NGO in this space

forestry and, to this end, the

environment. But the industry has

is Changing Markets. Changing

nonprofit Canopy has done a huge

certainly changed drastically in the

Markets has lobbied for viscose

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

production process.

leading viscose producers which

is a push towards sustainable

impacts on human health and the

products generated during the

What other factors dictate whether

Christian Cai, Sateri’s Vice President

There are also the issues around

part of the inputs, as well as by-

(CV), brings together China’s ten

intensive process, there is a risk of

well managed, can have negative


the recovery of sulphur compounds,

Sustainable Development of Viscose

past decade. In our own process,

manufactured using a chemical-

also offer an aligned approach for

Sateri and Tangshan Sanyou.

the Chinese Collaboration for

amount of work raising awareness

stakeholders in recent years.

approach for emissions control. They

Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), Lenzing,

Another industry initiative,

Like every other textile fibre sector,

regulators and other industry

These include Aditya Birla Group,

based, be it China or Europe. When you have that international presence, different pressure is exerted.” “A lot of the manufacturing issues arise due to the age of the technology and equipment being used. Investment in modern technology has been key for us.”

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers


Circularity and Recycling In recent years there has been a push from industry to incorporate recycled feedstock into the viscose process. Brands are attracted by the proposition of being able to use viscose produced from a combination of virgin and recycled materials as use of recycled fibres often dovetails with their stated sustainability targets.

Dr Rudine Antes says there are

There are other issues, Dr Rudine

technical challenges the whole

says. “While some feedstock is easy

industry is grappling with. “While

to work with – used bed towels and

the technology can now separate

sheets – other feedstock includes

polyester from natural fibres, other

multiple blends, requires removing

synthetic fibres like elastane and

buttons and zips, uses a range of

nylon remain big challenges.”

dyeing technology and so on. The permutations make sorting extremely

An example of work in this area is an initiative between

In fact, numerous papers support

Sateri and Swedish company Södra which saw viscose


this sentiment – elastane content

fibre produced on a commercial scale from regenerated

in used clothing is a serious barrier

Decreasing quality in clothing is

to recycling. It is used increasingly

certainly having an impact. “By the

in fashion garments, skinny, stretch

time something is not useable for a

jeans being the most obvious growth

human, it is often at a point where


it is not useable for us to put into

our system to be recycled,” says Dr

All these factors, Dr Rudine

We talked to APR about the issue of recycling in terms of

Rudine. “Access to feedstock for

suggests, have implications for

the challenges it brings to production, potential costs it

recycling could be the next battle

pricing, increasing the cost and time

brings to final products and future developments in this

among producers.”

associated with production with

textile waste. The new fibre created, FINEX™, uses a mix of dissolving pulp made from recycled post-consumer textile waste by Södra, and other PEFC-certified wood pulp.

Trialled at Sateri’s Linz Nanjing yarn spinning mill, the new fibre has proven compatibility with existing spinning technologies – a key potential stumbling block – ensuring stable yarn production without the need to adjust existing processes or parameters. Another well-known name here is Renewcell. This Swedish business has developed Circulose, a branded ‘dissolving pulp’ product which is produced from 100 per cent discarded cotton textiles. Swedish fashion retailer H&M is now using Circulose in its Conscious and mainstream collections.


potential knock-on effects for brands and retailers.


Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers


Traceability A raft of projects have been

goods business Kering. It applies

launched in the past two years

blockchain technology from

– many in pilot stage – to show

TextileGenesis to trace the viscose

how fibres can be traced through

in the textile supply chain spanning

supply chains using a combination

eight countries.

of (for example) DNA ‘markers’ and blockchain. Many of these

BESTSELLER and Kering provided

projects have focused on cotton, and

eight garment styles to be traced for

occasionally wool, but are equally

the pilot, with fibres sourced from

applicable to viscose.

three different viscose producers.

Last year, the Viscose Traceability

APR has its Follow-Our-Fibre, a

Project was launched by Fashion for

block-chain based tracking platform

Good to pilot a solution that verifies

that traces its viscose from nursery

sustainable viscose fibres along the

to bale, since 2019.

fashion supply chain. The conservation and biodiversity The work was developed in

protection efforts of its suppliers are

collaboration with Danish brand

also captured on the platform.

BESTSELLER and French luxury

Pricing Viscose prices are impacted by

While China is a major producer

as an alternative to cotton. With

a combination of sector-specific

of viscose, the government there

Europe, the UK and other parts of

factors and broader, macroeconomic

strengthened its environmental

the world looking likely to follow the


policy on industrial production

lead of the US, this trend is likely to

around five years ago. This impacted


Demand-supply issues drive prices

viscose production and briefly

at the macro-level. A broader,

squeezed supply, pushing prices

This upward dynamic has been

upward demand for viscose


counter-balanced by the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic

generally from brands and retailers has seen an upturn in prices over the

The fortunes of other textile fibres

during 2020/21. Clothing production

past decade.

have an impact on viscose prices.

globally has fallen significantly, which

Environmental factors include

In 2021, the US announced a ban

fibres. This has had a knock-on

whether viscose contains certified

on the import of cotton products,

effect on viscose prices.

or uncertified pulp, and production

including apparel and textiles, from

issues – for instance, the cleaner

Xinjiang which accounts for 20 per

production offering of Lyocell fibres

cent of global cotton production.

means they attract a price premium

This has caused speculations and

in the market.

price volatilities for all fibre markets,

in turn has hit demand for all textile

including a general upward trend in viscose prices where it is often seen


Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers



He says: “If it is plantation, what is

which has some challenges (which

the nature of that plantation? Is it a

if you’re going to be transparent, all

newly established plantation which

do), you have to ask yourself what

How concerned should brands

may have links to deforestation?

you can do to foster change in those

and retailers be about the link

Or is it a plantation which has

areas where change is critical for

between viscose production and

been long established? Also, what

the survival of us all on this planet.

deforestation? And what questions

are the assurances around things

Foster change that gets to the root

should brands be asking of their

like respect to workers’ rights,

cause and provides good value

viscose suppliers?

community engagement, potential

propositions to support change,

community conflicts etc?

plenty of carrot and not just stick.”

forestry issues related to viscose

“We want a situation where

Finally, on the issue of certifications,

production, we spoke to Boris

companies can be transparent about

Saraber warns against using

Saraber, Director of Operations with

the nature of their fibre supply and

certification as a “green shield,”

non-profit Earthworm Foundation,

can speak concretely about the

and that much more important is a

which has extensive expertise in the

challenges present and what they

company and its own values.

forestry sector.

are doing about those. Not just feel

To gain a better understanding of

Saraber suggests the first question

they have to assure the world it’s all

He says: “In my experience if you are

green and great.”

a company that has strong values

brands should ask of viscose

and you apply the principles under

suppliers is about their supply chains

What about allegedly ‘high risk’

the certification standard to the

– namely, can the supplier provide

countries where forestry is

letter of what they write – fantastic.

assurances of its raw material

concerned? How concerned should

origins, right down to the specifics

brands be?

“But if you choose to use certification as a ‘green shield’,

of which forests and not just simply Saraber suggests this is far from a

you will do whatever you can in

black and white issue, arguing that

your power to cut costs to get the

He adds: “There has to be a high

the problem of avoiding ‘high risk’

certification. That way of certification

degree of transparency with that,

regions is that you potentially “de-link

is flawed.

which is not always the case today.

responsible purchasing power from

There is a lot of opacity which means

the areas where change is needed.”

country of origin.

“As a company you have to be prepared to have a strong ambition

at the mill level they may not be fully transparent about the different

He adds: “Indonesia is a case in

that goes beyond certification, to be

fibre sources they are pulling into

point. Like many other countries, it

transparent. Certification is a tool to

the mill. Or they may say they have

has a significant fibre production

help you verify your journey. It is not

certification, but they might not be

base which is primarily plantations.

the end of the road.”

selling you certified products.”

Those plantations have a range of practices from very well managed/

Once visibility of supply chain has

responsible to poorly managed/

been established, one can begin

less responsible. So it’s really not

looking at issues around types

helpful for an entire country to be

of fibre base – for instance, is it a

associated with a high risk category”

plantation or a natural forest. He adds: “I also believe that, as a brand, if you have supply chain


Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers

Viscose: The Complete Guide for Brands and Retailers




Inside RGE