The project brings together key industry players to investigate, test and validate the solutions provided by innovators in the PHA polymer space.
The fashion industry accounts for around 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG-e), with 38 per cent of these emissions coming from raw material production, preparation and processing and 3 per cent from end-of-use. Polyester fibre is one of the most widely used in the fashion industry, making up 52 per cent of global fibre production, Fashion for Good said in a press release.
The production of virgin fossil-based polyester fibres is responsible for increased greenhouse gas emissions and their use results in the release of microplastics into the natural environment. PHA polymers provide a bio-based, marine and soil compostable solution to fossil-fuel derived polyester fibres, and could be a possible holy grail to decarbonising the fashion industry.
“There 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. PHA 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,” said Katrin Ley, managing director, Fashion for Good.
With catalytic funding provided by Laudes Foundation, collaborating partners include Bestseller, Norrøna, PVH Corp and the Fabrics Division of W L Gore & Associates providing industry expertise and financial support.
Bio Craft Innovation, Full Cycle Bioplastics and Newlight, leading innovators in the field of biopolymers, have joined the project to applying their expertise to produce the fibres and further develop fibre melt-spinning, a traditionally challenging, yet critical step in PHA production. 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 & 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), the release said.
PHAs are produced through a fermentation process using various renewable carbon-based feedstocks. In the coming months, the innovators will begin developing their individual PHA formulations, which will be shipped to NIRI for melt spinning trials.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (KD)
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