Welcome to our second annual Planet Agenda Update. Last year, in our first report of this kind, we showed how our living legacy of responsible and sustainable action coalesced around a set of publicly declared sustainability goals. This year, we’re reporting on our progress in executing against these goals.
We’re proud to have made some key advances, despite operating in what has been a very challenging year for our industry. Energy and freight prices soared to historic highs. Supply chain difficulties in 2021, combined with softer demand at retail in 2022, prompted significant garment and fabric inventory build-up and thus weaker fiber demand. But even as we face short-term headwinds, we remain confident in the strength of our unique business model, focused on our long-term growth vision, and committed to advancing our sustainability goals.
An Innovation-First Company
Since the invention of the original spandex yarn, LYCRA® fiber, in 1958, we have been innovation-led and innovation-driven. Our solutions can be found in all corners of the globe and in just about every household. LYCRA® fiber has gone on to transform many categories across the apparel industry from denim and hosiery to leggings, swimwear, shapewear, and personal care products.
As our innovation journey continues, it is now supported and further accelerated by sustainability, which we see as a key source of invention, new product development, and collaboration across the supply chain. In fact, at a time when our industry tends to be focused on ever-expanding capacity and production volumes, our focus is on maximizing the value of our existing footprint via innovations that lead to more efficient production, new fibers with unique features and, in turn, fabrics or garments with differentiated performance benefits.
“Working together with our customers, suppliers, and third-party partners, we are fulfilling our company purpose of enhancing life through innovative garment solutions.”
Our Ecosystem of Innovation
We take a systemic, collaborative approach to sustainable innovation.
Key collaborations with Qore® and HeiQ are good illustrations of this approach, as they help advance our progress in renewable fiber technology, with the potential to replace petroleum-based raw materials at scale. Qore®, a joint venture between Cargill and HELM, is developing a field corn-based feedstock to enable the creation of a bio-derived LYCRA® fiber. In another project with Swiss innovator HeiQ, we are now the primary apparel development partner and exclusive global distributor for AeoniQTM fiber, a high-performance cellulose, with the potential to be carbon negative.
We also innovate outside the lab, in how we approach our commercial possibilities. This year we put considerable time and effort into understanding our Scope 3 emissions. With the bulk of our impact coming from the ingredients we use in our products, it is critical that we collaborate with our suppliers to develop new, lower-impact solutions and processes. And while this change won’t happen overnight, we greatly value the efforts our preferred suppliers are making to join us in this journey.
The retail sector has reached an inflection point, with more and more brands and retailers setting ambitious sustainability goals and tapping into strategic suppliers, like The LYCRA Company, to provide solutions. Retailers not only know that tackling this set of challenges will be a collective effort across the value chain, but also that they will need to select the right partners in pursuit of their Scope 3 emissions reduction goals.
Collaborating With Our Customers
With the need for consumer education on sustainable products, we support our customers with compelling claims backed by scientific data. Our track record in delivering sustainable solutions provides the differentiation that brands, retailers, and manufacturers value. And our iconic brands serve as important "trust marks" to our customers around the world.
Investing in Circularity
Another key challenge, but also an opportunity for our industry, is developing the circular economy. Starting with our COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® fibers and insulation, today we are offering commercial products made from 100% textile waste. These products are laying the groundwork for a circular system where eventually garments can be returned and made back into new fibers. We also recognize the challenges involved in recycling stretch garments, and through our R&D efforts, are making progress in finding ways to more easily recycle fabrics with both LYCRA® and LYCRA® T400® fibers. Finally, we’re developing industrial compostable fibers for certain unique applications. All of these efforts provide a strong foundation for the future.
Our LYCRA ONE™ Marketplace represents another key aspect of our holistic approach to sustainability, as it provides an online marketplace connecting brands, retailers, and garment makers to a global network of partner mills in a virtual capacity. The expansion of our digital infrastructure, including online platforms like Browzwear, the industry’s leading 3D software for apparel design and development, is enabling new forms of engagement with our global customer base, and demonstrates the differentiation and sources of innovation that The LYCRA Company is helping bring to its customers across the apparel value chain.
Our Sustainability Roadmap Is Our Growth Roadmap
With sustainability as a key growth lever, our actions are grounded in what matters. We are committed to bringing value-added offerings that meet the needs of our customers and their consumers.
In closing, I want to thank our true changemakers and our greatest resource—the people of The LYCRA Company. No matter the challenge, their commitment to our company values, our business objectives, and our customers never wavers. The resilience and success of our company comes from the collective passion demonstrated by our employees, day in and day out.
Of course, we could only advance our sustainability journey with our customers and partners. Our Planet Agenda is shared. We keep moving forward, united in the knowledge that to have a healthy business and industry, we must have a healthy planet.
Indeed, together, we can go further, and we look forward to a more prosperous and sustainable future for us all.
- Dean Williams, Acting CEO