The investment will focus on alternative cellulose feedstock and clean manufacturing solutions deployable at industrial scale.

Singapore based viscose major Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) plans to invest US$200m over the next ten years into cellulosic textile fibre research and development.

The company claims to be the world's largest viscose producer through its business groups Sateri in China and Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) in Indonesia, with a total annual production capacity at 1.4m tonnes.

Sateri and APR source wood-based dissolving pulp from sustainably managed renewable plantations in Indonesia and Brazil through RGE-managed companies, April and Bracell.

The new investment will support solutions in alternative cellulose or plant-based feedstock and closed-loop manufacturing. The target allocation for the investment is split in a "70:20:10" share across three areas, respectively: scaling up proven clean technology in fibre manufacturing, bringing pilot-scale production to commercial scale, and R&D in emerging frontier solutions.

Bey Soo Khiang, vice chairman of RGE, says the investment covers a strategic business growth area for the company. "Our integrated portfolio of companies across pulp, fibre and yarn production puts us in a unique upstream position in the textile value chain to realise commercial scale and affordable solutions that support downstream manufacturers and brands. We aspire not just to be the largest viscose producer but also to be a leader in sustainable textile fibre production through innovation."

Allen Zhang, president of Sateri, adds: "Sateri is proud to be part of this long-term commitment that RGE has made. We look forward to supporting and scaling up solutions that can help Sateri produce even more sustainably and deliver high quality and affordable products to our customers." 

Through partnerships with innovators and in-house research and development, several initiatives are already underway. In August 2019, RGE invested in Finnish start-up Infinited Fiber Company (IFC) to scale up its technology which turns textile waste and other pulp-based materials into new textile fibres. A 500-tonne pre-commercial plant in Finland and customer training centre will be ready by early 2020. 

While in May this year, an MoU was signed with re:newcell for technical cooperation and trials on production of viscose using recycled cotton, with the aim of industrial scale production by 2025. 

RGE has also commenced partnership discussions with Fashion for Good, a global initiative trying to make fashion more sustainable.

Feng Xin, VP of downstream business & corporate development at Sateri, last week wrote on just-style that despite current efforts to create more eco-friendly fashion, the industry needs a more deliberate approach to integrating sustainability across the entire value chain: Eco-friendly fashion – Where are we still falling short?