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Last year, RGE announced a US$200 million investment in cellulosic textile fibre research and development over the course of 10 years to help fast and linear fashion become more circular and sustainable. The investment represents a firm commitment to supporting solutions in alternative cellulose or plant-based feedstock and closed-loop manufacturing.
To realise the ambition of circular sustainable fashion, the investment has three prongs: Sourcing ready solutions in the market; investing in start-ups; and strengthening its in-house R&D capabilities. Of the investment sum, 70% is towards clean technology in fibre manufacturing, 20% is towards bringing pilot-scale production to commercial scale, and 10% is towards R&D in emerging frontier solutions.
RGE is the world’s largest viscose producer, through its business groups Sateri and Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), with a strong presence in Asia where textile demand growth intersects with the textile production hub, presenting a real opportunity to drive change.
A Year’s Progress
One year on, RGE released a 2019-2020 progress report on its commitment. The progress report provides major updates that cover operations, production, and partnerships.
FinexTM was unveiled to much fanfare in June 2020 following Sateri’s achieving a breakthrough in commercial scale viscose fibre regenerated from textile waste in March 2020.
Sateri also successfully commenced production of Lyocell fibre in Rizhao, Shandong, China in May 2020. Lyocell is not only a higher value product but also an eco-friendly closed-loop fibre that is bio-based and minimises chemical use and emissions.
In September 2020, Sateri opened a new multi-storey R&D Innovation Centre in Shandong. The centre features a 5,000 tonne per annum Lyocell production line dedicated for pilot trials, and other imported state-of-the-art equipment.
Additionally, an in-house cotton textile waste recycling project was also initiated in the last year.
APR, working with pulp and paper maker APRIL Group, acquired a new fully automated viscose pilot plant in May 2020. The pilot closely simulates the entire viscose manufacturing production on a much smaller scale. This allows APR to test new formulation and techniques quickly and efficiently, bringing new product strengths and innovations to customers.
To promote progress towards broader goals, RGE strengthened existing partnerships while forging new ones. For instance, it is working with Infinited Fiber Company to explore the retrofitting of viscose production with the start-up’s carbmate technology. Other partners include those in the private and public sector, such as Re:newcell, Södra, Donghua University, Aalto University, China Association of Circular Economy, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
Goals and Targets for Sustainable Viscose Production
Also in the progress report, both viscose business groups Sateri and APR have presented targets:
- Sateri aims to have a product made of 50% recycled content by 2023, and 100% by 2030.
- Sateri aims for 20% of its feedstock to contain alternative or recycled materials by 2025.
- APR will source 20% of its feedstock from alternative or recycled materials by 2030.
- Both Sateri and APR further commit to closed-loop manufacturing by aiming to having all their mills meet EU-BAT emission limits by 2023.
More in the news release here.
View the 2019-2020 progress report below: