Five Minutes With… Robert van de Kerkhof

Wood-based fibres producer Lenzing, was recently awarded the World Bioeconomy Forum’s first Bioproduct of the Year Award for its Lyocell fibres. WCBEF spoke to Robert van de Kerkhof, Chief Commercial Officer at Lenzing Group, about receiving the award:

What does winning the first Bioproduct of the Year award mean to you and your company? 

We at Lenzing feel honored to receive this award for our wood-based Lyocell fibres. It is an acknowledgement of a long development process, regarding both technology and applications, which still continues. We also seen this as an acknowledgement for our efforts to green up the textile and non-woven businesses. So this award is also a motivation for us to develop solutions for today’s problems.
The World BioEconomy Forum’s mission is to highlight all the incredibly important work going on in the global Circular Bioeconomy, what else – in your opinion – could be done to get more recognition for the sector?

From our daily experience we know that people are not aware that already nowadays many products are delivered by the bioeconomy – even if they have heard about this concept. They are surprised if you tell them for example that clothing can be made from wood – and this in a very sustainable way. So, we appreciate the work the World Bioeconomy Forum does to promote the activities and achievements of the global circular bioeconomy and encourage the spreading of success stories in this area to increase understanding and awareness. As the companies, which belong to this category, are active in various industries and sectors, there is a need for a stronger cooperation and networking. This will also raise public awareness.
What do you see as the main areas of focus in the Circular Bioeconomy for you and your company going forward?
Regarding circularity and closed loops Lenzing is active at different levels. First of all we are continuously improving our own processes and strive to have even more closed loop systems in production than already today. The next range deals with the recycling of textiles (and nonwovens) to produce high quality fibers, which can then be used in the value chains. Here Lenzing has a focus and has already developed the REFIBRA™ technology for the production of fibers with recycled content at industrial scale. And finally we are also looking at the-end-of-life, where recycling is not possible. All Lenzing fibers are biodegradable in various environments (soil and marine) and therefore return to nature as nutrients – this is the largest cycle.

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