sustainable and circular textile materials

Sustainable and circular textile materials

To reduce its carbon footprint and minimise the use of fossil resources, the focus of policy makers and the textile industry is on developing biobased and circular materials. At Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, we develop affordable materials from renewable and bio resources with circular properties by design that also fulfil all functional and aesthetic user demands.

Fossil-free textiles in 2050

In our vision, textiles can be fossil-free by 2050. To make this possible, the textile industry has to switch to biobased carbon as a resource for textile materials.

A fossil-free textile consumption requires the combination of four subobjectives:

  • a reduction of use of virgin materials through re-use and recycle (and design enabling it);
  • enable an overall reduction of consumption in weight (especially in developed countries);
  • a full transition from fossil-based fibres, additives and processing substances to biobased sources;
  • a shift from all production processes to non-fossil-based energy sources (essentially from petrol and gas to electricity).

We use our knowledge and lab facilities to convert biomass into natural fibres and (building blocks for) polymers. In addition, we help clients select and obtain the right biobased raw materials, scale up production and the right application of materials.

From cotton and natural fibres to polymers en polycondensation fibres

There are many ways we can help make textile production more sustainable:

  • We help farmers, agricultural regions and producers standardise and scale up sustainable cultivation and processing methods for valuable cotton and biobased fibres like flax, hemp and viscose. This includes the valorisation of agricultural and food water streams to textiles.
  • We help to develop biobased building blocks or regenerated fibres for polyester and polyamide production from waste. There is significant interest in this from the chemical and polymer industries, large users of textiles, brand owners and recyclers.
  • We assist policy makers and industry associations to design and implement circular policies for product design, sourcing strategies, re-use and recycling. For products with a short life span, complete recycling should be conditional, while other products should be designed for the longest possible life span. Next to this, we help (groups of) companies on how to make a circular textile product and how to select the best applicable and affordable biobased and circular feedstock.

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