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TEXAS – US consultants Textile Exchange have warned the fashion industry it is time to rethink, “untethered growth” if it wants to hit climate targets. TE’s latest global fibre report shows textile fibre production increased to a record 113 million tonnes in 2021, after a slight decline due to COVID-19 in 2020. In the last 20 years, global fibre production has almost doubled from 58 million tonnes in 2000 to 113 million tonnes in 2021, and is expected to grow to 149 million tonnes in 2030 if “business as usual continues,” according to the report.

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The report says the share of recycled fibres slightly increased from 8.4 per cent in 2020 to 8.9 per cent in 2021, mainly due to an increase in bottle-based polyester fibre. However, less than 1 per cent of the global fibre market was from pre- and post-consumer recycled textiles in 2021.

Says the report: “While the industry has made commitments towards the 1.5° pathway, the virgin fossil-based synthetic fibre volumes continue to increase. The production of fossil-based synthetics raised from 60 million tonnes in 2020 to 63 million tonnes in 2021.”

The report notes that the market share for cotton from standards such as Better Cotton decreased from 27 per cent of the total cotton production in 2019/20 to 24 per cent in 2020/21 after years of growth. “The reasons consist of a variety of factors, including weather variations, changes in the Better Cotton program, market conditions and socio-political challenges,” the report claims, although the loss of huge swathes of Chinese cotton for Better Cotton is by far the largest reason for this fall.

Production of manmade cellulosic fibers (MMCFs) including viscose, lyocell, modal, acetate, and cupro increased from 6.5 million tonnes in 2020 to 7.2 million tonnes in 2021. The market share of FSC- and/or PEFC-certified MMCFs increased from around 55-60 per cent in 2020 to around 60-65 per cent of all MMCFs in 2021. “In March 2022, FSC and PEFC announced their decision to suspend Russian and Belarus wood certification. This equals a ban of around 18% of all FSC- and/or PEFC-certified forest,” the report states.

Finally, global wool fibre production was relatively unchanged at around 1 million tonnes in 2021. Conventional wool accounts for the vast majority of the wool market but the market for non-mulesed and certified wool programmes is increasing, the report states.

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