Lenzing has committed to a further substantial reduction of specific emissions within the next four years. The new step includes reducing by 50 percent the group's sulfur emissions by 2022 as compared to 2014, as well as a 20 percent reduction in chemical oxygen demand (COD), which measures the amount of organic compounds in water, also by 2022.

These and other sustainability goals were unveiled with the publication of Lenzing's Sustainability Report 2017, last March 21. The day of release of the report also marked International Forest Day. As a general goal, in its sustainability report, the company focused on the need to move to a more circular economy.

Lenzing plans to generate 50 percent of its revenues with eco-friendly specialty fibers - such as Tencel, Veocel and other specialty fibers – by 2020. The company also plans to expand its research and development (R&D) activities along the supply chain through new technologies, following its previous efforts that have led to innovations such as its Tencel Luxe and Refibra and filaments.

As for its commitment to water stewardship, Lenzing pointed to the fact that its wood-based cellulose fibers consume on average significantly less water than irrigated cotton.

Also, the company has announced it will initiate and finance a forestation project by replanting degraded land in Albania. This project will involve the monitoring of forest growth as well as training for local communities over a long period of time.

Finally, Lenzing said it will implement the Higg Facility Environmental Module, an assessment tool recognized internationally, at all of its sites by 2019, in an effort to optimize the ecological and social sustainability impacts at all its production facilities and ensure widespread transparency.

With its stronger focus on sustainability, which is apparently resonating with end consumers through various marketing initiatives, Lenzing achieved a 6 percent sales increase last year to €2.26 billion. The Austrian company's net income rose to €282 million from €229 million, leading to a decision to invest in new facilities in Austria, the U.S. and Thailand. The management is not sure that its performance will be as good this year.