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Project to curb fashion'sAuse of oil-based synthetics

Jun 10, 2021 (MarketLine via COMTEX) --

Spearheaded by Fashion for Good, the initiative will investigate, test and validate alternatives to Polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHA polymer fibres.

The fibres are described by the global sustainable fashion initiative as having potential to reduce carbon emissions in the fashion supply chain.

Catalytic funding for the project is provided by Laudes Foundation, with collaborating partners including Bestseller, NorrAna, PVH Corp and the fabrics division of W L Gore & Associates.

Bio Craft Innovation (formerly Biomize), Full Cycle Bioplastics and Newlight Technologies will also contribute solutions to validate their potential, providing insights to scale the industry in the long term.

aEURoeThere is an urgent need to find replacements for the predominantly fossil-based fibres in the fashion industry through solutions such as biosynthetics from renewable sources,aEUR says Katrin Ley, managing director of Fashion for Good.

aEURoePHA polymers represent an exciting, yet challenging solution for reducing carbon emissions in the fashion industry, and this project aims to drive further innovation in this space to bring them to scale.aEUR

The fashion industry accounts for around 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG-e), with 38% of these emissions coming from raw material production, preparation and processing and 3% from end-of-use, Fashion for Good says.

Polyester fibre is one of the most widely used in the fashion industry, making up 52% of global fibre production.

The production of these virgin fossil-based polyester fibres are responsible for increased greenhouse gas emissionsAand their use results in the release of microplastics into the natural environment.

Under the umbrella of the Renewable Carbon Framework initiated by Nova-Institute, Biosynthetics made from renewable sources, such as agricultural byproducts, provide a solution to reduce plastic production and, ultimately, a brandaEUR(TM)s overarching carbon footprint.

In particular, PHA polymers provide a bio-based, marine and soil compostable solution to fossil-fuel derived polyester fibres, and could be a possible aEURoeholy grailaEUR to decarbonising the fashion industry.

PHA polymersPHAs belong to an emerging class of biobased, marine and soil compostable polymers. They are produced through a fermentation process using various carbon-based feedstocks, including organic food waste, methane gas and captured CO2. They have a wide range of chemical, thermal and mechanical properties and can be engineered to have similar performance characteristics as conventional synthetic fibres.

PHA has been used to make films and packaging products but so far there have been limited fibre applications. Alongside this, only a handful of companies currently produce PHA meaning supply is limited.

Full Cycle Bioplastics use inedible food waste, whilst NewlightaEUR(TM)s use of carbon capture technology transforms carbon from greenhouse gases into PHA biopolymers. Bio craft Innovation produces a blended PHA composite using biomass from bamboo production.

Material for fibre production will be provided by each of these innovators and they will demonstrate that their product can meet industry requirements in both quality and quantity needed for scalable production.

Next stepsAs part of the project, partner brands will help to test and develop output materials, as well as providing their technical expertise and industry insights.

This will enable the evaluation of the suitability of PHA polymers, accelerate fibre development and production, and determine scalability in the traditional supply chain. The end-of-use pathways for the fibres will be evaluated through third-party degradation and recyclability testing, to ensure circularity.

Meanwhile, Bio Craft Innovation, Full Cycle Bioplastics and Newlight will apply their expertise in biology, chemistry and engineering to not only produce the fibres, but also further develop fibre melt-spinning, a traditionally challenging, yet critical step in PHA production.

Until now, commercial melt-spinning trials have not used PHA polymers, Fashion for Good explains, adding as such, there are still some manufacturing challenges and additional technical assessments needed to compare and evaluate the different polymers.

The project focuses on validating the technical feasibility of the output, working with the Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute (NIRI) to run the melt-spinning trials. This allows for a comparative evaluation which can provide key learnings on how to best support and bring these technologies to scale.

Alongside the technical feasibility study, the project includes a range of degradation testing that will be conducted by Organic Waste Systems (OWS). Leading in biodegradability, compostability and ecotoxicity testing, OWS will run tests in marine, soil, freshwater and landfill environments in mid-2022 to assess the biochemical properties of the fibres and whether they break down in these environments.

In the coming months, the innovators will begin developing their individual PHA formulations, which will be shipped to NIRI for melt spinning trials.

Once the trials are complete, environmental degradation testing will commence.

At project completion, aimed at the end of 2022AaEUR"Abarring impact from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the results from the project will be published by Fashion for Good in a report which will be available to the public.
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