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LONDON – Global demand for eco fibres will grow by more than 10 per cent from now to 2022 thanks to increasing awareness of the strain conventional fibre production places on the environment, claims new research. With estimates suggesting up to 2,500 litres of water is used in the production of a t-shirt, sustainable textile production is now a major emerging trend, with the Asian Pacific holding the largest share of the eco fibre market at 38 per cent.

“Environmental damage caused by conventional fibres [is a] major market driver,”say researchers from Technavio. “The production of both natural fibres and synthetic fibres has a significant effect on the environment. Non-organic cotton, which has the highest production rate, is grown using conventional methods. The cultivation process requires large amounts of water and pesticides. 2,500 litres of water is required to produce a cotton shirt. An extensive amount of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fertilisers are required for the forming of cotton. In cotton farms, nitrate fertilisers are used that gets converted into nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes towards global warming.

“Further down the value chain, large quantities of chemicals, energy, and water are required to prepare dye cotton fabric. Conventional rayon that is prepared from cellulose is a natural fibre that requires large amounts of chemicals in the fibre spinning phase. Synthetic fibres such as polyester and other petroleum-based fibres depend on non-renewable oil resources.”

While such findings are not particularly groundbreaking, the report does offer a useful overview of the current state of play of the global textile industry, and how the move towards sustainability in textile manufacture is now a trend in all four corners of the globe.

Adds the report: “Globally, the increasing focus on the environment has led a number of companies to produce environment-friendly products. Research activities are undertaken to develop solutions that will help in reducing pollution, global warming, and other environmental issues.

“There has been an increase in popularity of sustainable textile fibres, which includes organic cotton, flax, hemp, jute, sisal, abaca, and bamboo. Renewable and biodegradable synthetic fibres manufactured from natural resources such as polylactic acid and lyocell are being preferred over petroleum-based non-biodegradable synthetic fibres such as polyester.”

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