Torn jeans for textile and fashion industry, circular economy

Textiles

Man-made cellulosic fibres pave the way for improved sustainability in the textile industry

We at AFRY support our clients in identifying and implementing business opportunities across the textile value chain. We work closely with our clients and assist them throughout the whole process, from evaluating project feasibility through to design and project implementation. 

The trend in textiles and design requires sustainable fashion. Rising consumer awareness has put pressure on fashion companies to reduce their social and environmental impact through new technologies and innovations for the circular economy. The novel textile fibre industry will play a key role in reducing the environmental footprint of the textile industry.

Historically, natural fibres such as cotton were the dominant type of fibre used for textiles. But cotton requires arable land which could otherwise be used for food production. In addition, cotton is also a water-intensive crop sensitive to its environment. With that in mind, it is unsurprising that the production of cotton has not increased much since the late 1980s. Today, the most common type of fibres used in textiles are synthetic fibres, in particular polyester. Although polyester is comparatively inexpensive and durable, its major drawback is that it is oil-based and is adding to the microplastics pollution problem in our oceans.

Going beyond cotton and fossil-based materials is only a part of the solution. Critical elements on the path towards higher sustainability are implementing circular solutions with efficient recycling systems and regenerating textile fibres. With the growing global demand for clothes and textiles, there is an urgent need to transform textile production and consumption to make them more sustainable. Man-made cellulosic fibres offer the fashion industry a viable option for more sustainable solutions.

We serve clients in assessing the maturity of novel textile fibre technologies, in modelling the competitiveness of man-made cellulosic fibres in relation to other fibres, and in discussing renewable textile fibre needs with brand owners.  Our pre-investment study services provide an independent base for investment decisions combining all essential elements of an industrial project – technical, economic, commercial and environmental matters topped up with risk analysis.

Although the majority of novel textile fibres are still in relatively early stages of development, commercialisation is accelerated by partnerships in the value chain.

Our deep understanding and competence in cellulosic fibres, our track record of long-standing cooperation with the world's largest pulp producers, combined with the extensive process industry and project execution experience, makes us a unique partner for textile clients in accelerating their novel fibers to scalable commercial production.

Key qualities and advantages of different fibres
Key qualities and advantages of different fibres (source AFRY Management Consulting)
Johan Ehrnrooth
Head of Pulp & Paper, Process Industries Division

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