Austrian cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing has used its Refibra technology to produce its first scaled production of virgin Tencel lyocell fibres using post-consumer cotton waste as part of the recycled raw material proportion.

The fibres feature up to 30% recycled raw material content, where up to 10% of post-consumer cotton waste is included. This is then mixed with  pre-consumer cotton waste.

The move is an evolution of the Refibra technology, which currently upcycles a substantial proportion of pre-consumer cotton scraps from garment production, which are mixed with virgin wood pulp to produce new Tencel Lyocell fibres. The first phase of the Refibra upgrade saw an increase in the composition of pulp made from upcycled cotton scraps collected from the garment manufacturing process to up to 30%.

The company's five-year vision is to produce fibres with Refibra technology with up to 50% recycled content from post-consumer cotton waste – which could make textile waste recycling as common as paper recycling.

"This innovation is a groundbreaking step towards tackling the global issue of textile waste disposal. At the same time, it reduces the extraction of wood as a raw material and relieves the pressure on global forest ecosystems. Our vision includes recycling of fabrics and garments from Lenzing's own materials," the company says.