In a bold move towards combating climate change, Textile Exchange has released its latest report titled 'The Future of Synthetics,' urging the fashion, apparel, and textile industry to swiftly divest from virgin, fossil fuel-derived synthetic materials. The report underscores the imperative for the industry to halt the introduction of new fossil fuel-derived materials into the supply chain in order to slash greenhouse gas emissions and meet critical climate targets.

Highlighting the pressing need for action, the report emphasises the significance of ramping up investments in technologies that facilitate the rapid substitution of fossil fuel-derived synthetics. Central to this strategy is the development of viable alternatives that will enable the industry to realistically transition away from traditional materials, thereby unlocking a pivotal opportunity for emissions reduction.

A key aspect of the report focuses on repurposing existing synthetic textile waste and scaling up textile-to-textile recycling technologies to establish a truly 'closed-loop' system. Synthetic materials, which have dominated global fiber production since the mid-1990s, are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, with polyester alone contributing a substantial portion.

However, the report also cautions against a complete shift towards land-based raw materials, highlighting the potential risks of overreliance on natural ecosystems and the depletion of resources. Instead, Textile Exchange advocates for a dual approach that involves investing in alternative methods for creating synthetic materials using recycled or sustainably sourced renewable feedstocks, alongside efforts to reduce the overall volume of new materials produced.

While mechanical recycling of PET plastic bottles remains a common alternative to virgin polyester, the industry must accelerate the development and adoption of textile-to-textile recycling technologies to establish a comprehensive closed-loop system. Moreover, the report explores emerging opportunities in biosynthetics and carbon capture technologies, underscoring their potential to facilitate the industry's transition away from fossil fuel extraction.

In essence, 'The Future of Synthetics' sets out a roadmap for the fashion industry to embrace sustainability, urging stakeholders to embrace innovative solutions and collaborative efforts to tackle the climate crisis head-on.

Download the full report here.

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