SINGAPORE – Asian industrial conglomerate, Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), has announced plans to invest US$200m over the next ten years into cellulosic textile fibre research and development. Re:newcell (feedstock pictured) and Infinited Fiber Company are among businesses RGE has already partnered with, and this latest announcement indicates the business is determined to support the scaling up of innovations in closed loop textile manufacturing.
The investment, revealed ahead of the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference taking place this week in Vancouver, will “support solutions in alternative cellulose or plant-based feedstock and closed-loop manufacturing.” The investment will focus on alternative cellulose feedstock and clean manufacturing solutions deployable at industrial scale. The business said it will also involve cooperation with key industry partners.
The target allocation for the investment is 70:20:10 in three areas, respectively, these being 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, said: “This is a strategic business growth area for RGE. 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.”
Through its business groups Sateri in China and Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) in Indonesia, RGE is the world’s largest viscose producer with a total annual production capacity at 1.4 million tonnes. Sateri and APR source wood-based dissolving pulp from renewable plantations in Indonesia and Brazil through RGE-managed companies, APRIL and Bracell.
Allen Zhang, president of Sateri, said: “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.”
Ben Poon, deputy head of APR, added: “This commitment responds to two pressing environmental challenges facing the textile industry: increase in demand for both synthetic and natural fibres for textile production and increase in textile waste. Recycled textile waste as a feedstock tackles both issues simultaneously.”
In August 2019, RGE invested in Finnish start-up Infinited Fiber Company (IFC) to scale up its technology. A 500-ton pre-commercial plant in Finland and customer training centre will be ready by early 2020.
In May this year, an MoU was also 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, whose Innovation Platform is focused on scaling technologies and business models that have the greatest potential to transform the fashion industry.