22.04.2020, 11:00-12:00, GoToWebinar, international Webinar
Did you know that most of the fibers that are produced worldwide are made from non-renewable resources? On June 17, we organized an international webinar with the aim to explain the role of the textile and fashion industry within the bioeconomy. In addition, some key questions led the discussion: Which natural resources are used? How can fiber production be sustainable? And what does that mean for me as a consumer? Inputs came from leading experts in the textile and fashion industry from Sweden, Germany and Austria.
Global fiber production
In the first presentation, Cornelia Voß, textile expert at the Bonn Science Shop in Germany, outlined global key figures for fiber production. Almost 65% of the fibers produced worldwide are synthetic or artificial fibers. They are made from fossil resources such as petroleum. Almost a third of the global fibers are of plant-based origin (cotton, linen, hemp, etc.). The majority is cotton with just under 24%. Fibers made from wood or cellulose such as Lyocell, viscose or modal make up 6% of the total fiber production. Cornelia Voß also compared cotton to viscose. Cotton is grown in more than 80 countries. The largest producers include the USA, China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and the EU. A lot of water is used in cotton production. On average 11,000 liters, in some countries even up to 23,000 liters/kg cotton fabric. The basic raw material for viscose is wood or wood chips, which come from the forest or plantations. The production of fibers requires solvents and medium to high energy consumption. However, there are promising possibilities to recycle solvents or to provide the energy sustainably.
Wood fibers: bioeconomy & circular economy
Next, Caroline Ledl, Head of Product Management Textiles from the Austrian company Lenzing AG, gave an insight into the company’s circular economy concept. The fibers produced (Lyocell, Modal and Viscose) are used for clothing, home textiles and hygiene products. In the biorefinery in Lenzing, Upper Austria, a piece of wood is broken down into various components such as fiber pulp, products such as soda or acetic acid and bioenergy (electricity and heat used directly on site). This creates a sustainable use of the raw material. Due to the relatively low water consumption during production, wood fibers are a future-proof alternative to conventional cotton. Since wood chips are also used in the production, wood fibers represent a potential sales-market for the high volume of damaged and second quality wood from bark beetles and the like. This contributes to the vitality of the native forests.
Is it possible to combine fashion & sustainability?
In the concluding presentation, Elin Larsson, Program Director RE: Source, Sweden, discussed how to achieve a more sustainable and environmentally conscious wardrobe. The textile industry contributes with 3-8% to climate change. In Sweden, every person clears out 14 kg of textiles per year. 8 kg of it ends up in the trash. 60% of them are still of good quality and could be worn. Superordinate strategies such as recycling and cooperation between industries are a possible lever. An example of this is a Swedish partnership for a pilot project where which worn round slings from heavy industry are processed into fibers for the textile industry. There are also several options on a personal level. For example, it is possible to reduce the ecological footprint of the garment by 49% due to the double life-length of the clothing. For instance, the durability can be prolonged by careful and not too frequent washing as well as repairs.
This webinar was organized by the Ecosocial Forum Austria & Europe and Wissenschaftsladen Bonn (the Austrian and German hub) in collaboration with Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA of the Nordic hub.
The full webinar on YouTube
The points mentioned are only an extract from the content of the webinar. You can watch the entire webinar on YouTube!