Latest Trends in Sustainable Yarn Manufacturing
According to a new report from Grand View Research, the global textile market is projected to reach approximately $1.2 trillion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 4.24 percent. As the global textile industry continues to grow, it is generating greater demand for raw materials, novel applications and new production processes
The fiber and yarn sector is an integral part of the textile and garment industries. To stay competitive, these industries are striving for continuous improvement and therefore are constantly looking for innovative solutions to meet the changing demands and industry standards. These standards are geared mainly towards sustainable solutions such as recycling, waste reduction, production efficiency and closed-loop production. With increasing involvement from governments, these standards now are becoming crucial for trade and businesses.
It is obvious that sustainability is a rising concern of brands, equipment and fabric manufacturers, and consumers. The industry is still very recycled-centric, which is clearly not enough. There has been a greater push for water savings, durability and waste management, as well as reduced emissions, water pollution, and carbon footprint.
Second to oil, the textile industry is one of the largest contributors to harmful environmental effects. As a result, the need for textile companies to alter their approach to manufacturing and production is drastically increasing. Across the board, companies are developing fibers and yarns as innovative solutions to address the need for more sustainable systems. There are two major sustainability initiatives exhibited by various companies — circular fashion and closed loop systems.
Circular Economy/Circular Fashion
Economic structure which is referred to as a circular economy or circular fashion, which not only addresses the ability to extend the life of a product, but also protects the environment at the same time. In a circular fashion industry, every aspect of the production process is pushed to be circular, ethical, and ultimately environmentally friendly and sustainable. This includes recycling materials, using biodegradable solutions, sourcing raw materials ethically, and using more efficient manufacturing and production processes.
Innovative companies emphasizing their circular fashion initiatives by showcasing efficient manufacturing and production processes including reduced emissions, waste, water, chemicals and energy usage; and by finding ways to biodegrade post-consumer materials in order to fully close the loop, at international fairs like ITMA. Various companies were able to ensure the credibility of their products through the use of eco-labels including the bluesign® standard, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the EU Ecolabel, STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and the Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
The bluesign standard provides a means of pre-testing and analyzing all components required to manufacture a product before those components go into production. By analyzing the environmental footprint of these components, it helps to eliminate sources of harmful environmental contamination from the very beginning. The GOTS certificate ensures that fibers going into production are organic, production is ethical both on an environmental and social level, and that the consumer will receive a responsibly made product. The EU Ecolabel is a label that identifies products that were made with the environment in mind for manufacturing processes, distribution methods and safe disposal capabilities. Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex is a certification system for all aspects of the manufacturing and production process, which helps safeguard the consumers’ and environmental health by ensuring that no harmful chemicals are utilized during the production process. The GRS label is provided to companies who utilize recycled content in their products, and certifies that the recycled material used is traceable, environmentally friendly, and labeled correctly.
Switzerland-based Archroma provides “safe, efficient, and enhanced” textile chemical solutions, according to the company. Its chemicals are bluesign approved, GOTS certified, biobased, perfluorinated chemical (PFC) free, formaldehyde free and metal free. By certifying its products with eco-labels and utilizing sustainable practices, Archroma is able to effectively protect the environment against harmful wastewater and also save valuable natural resources.
Italy-based DBT Fibre promoted sustainability in its long and short staple spinning processes with the aim of optimizing the environmental and social impact through its sustainable business model in a circular economy. As part of its Eco Fiber Green Action Solutions, the company installed a photovoltaic system with a capacity of more than 650 kiloWatts, which generates savings in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions equivalent to 390 tons per year. DBT also has a system to recover waste materials from its manufacturing processes and recycle 100 percent of all packaging materials.
In response to the need for environmental awareness, Spain-based Nylstar S.L. showcased its NATEO Sustainability Program — which is focused on zero water pollution, water-savings and recycling initiatives — for its Meryl® nylon brand. Meryl NATEO nylon yarns offer an eco-friendly alternative to cotton and address recycling options.
Meryl EcoDye yarns are dyed using a dope-dyeing method in which the color is added to the polymer dope before extrusion. This method provides excellent color fastness and color take-up while eliminating the need for water during the dyeing process, according to the company. Meryl Cotton 66 is a yarn that was made in response to the environmental damage done by the cotton farming industry. This yarn looks and feels like cotton and eliminates the need for large amounts of water and agricultural chemicals that are required for cotton farming. Meryl Eco Denim is a technology that eliminates up to 11,000 liters of water per pair of jeans made. Nylstar also offers Meryl Skinlife, a silver ion-based antimicrobial treatment that eliminates odors while maintaining a balanced environment for the skin and therefore does not require the fabrics to be laundered as frequently. In its zero water pollution program, Nylstar also has developed variety of performance yarns that do not incorporate any topical chemical treatments under the Meryl Touch brand.
Spain-based S.Vilarrasa S.A., a manufacturer of open-end spun yarns, introduced a recycled cotton yarn that was produced using pre-consumer cotton garment waste. This replaces virgin cotton which reduces water use, agricultural chemicals and garment dyes. The company has the GTS certificate that ensures its recycled material is verified.
Closed Loop Production
Based on the most recent statistics provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there were 16.9 million tons of textiles generated in 2017 in the United States. From this, 11.2 million tons of textile waste was landfilled, and only 2.6 tons were recycled. This waste not only impacts the environmental condition on land, but it also contributes significantly to man-made waste polluting the oceans. Every year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean.
Seaqual™, a fiber from Spain-based Textil Santanderina S.A., stands out it its mission to reduce the amount of waste currently in the ocean and to reduce more waste from entering the ocean. Seaqual is a 100-percent recycled marine plastic fiber, and the company partners with local fishermen to help collect the waste to produce the fiber. Textil Santanderina reports that for every kg of Seaqual fiber created, it removes 1 kg of trash from the ocean.
Some of Nylstar’s Meryl fibers also are created with waterways and the ocean in mind. The NATEO program ensures that high tenacity Meryl fibers do not deposit microplastics in the environment. In addition, Nylstar’s recycling program offers two products — Meryl Recycled fibers, which reuse post-production waste to create a new raw material; and Meryl Pure, which is designed to be 100-percent recyclable by using natural stretch instead of elastane for stretch in garments.
Finland-based Infinited Fiber Co. displayed an innovative recycling solution at ITMA not only for pre- and post-consumer textile waste, but also for cardboard scraps and agricultural waste. Its waste material is separated, turned into a liquid and then spun into a high-performance fiber. This system allows the company to reduce its water usage by 20,000 liters per kg of cotton and greatly lowers CO2 emissions.
Eco-Friendly knitted fabrics from Haksa Tekstil San Tic A.S., Turkey, feature yarns that utilize recycled raw materials from pre-production textile waste to create a product that in turn saves billions of liters of water, saves thousands of tons of cotton fiber, and reduces thousands of tons worth of chemical contamination entering the environment, according to the company. The waste used can be combinations of cotton, polyester, Unifi’s Repreve®, acrylic or wool.
Germany-based Kelheim Fibres GmbH introduced specialty viscose fibers that are made using 100-percent cellulose. This allows the fibers to be completely biodegradable. Kelheim works with CanopyStyle to ensure it does not source wood from ancient or endangered forests.
Man-made fiber technology manufacturer Oerlikon, Switzerland, introduced a new fiber production method to fully recycle partially oriented and fully-drawn filaments via a process of homogenization drying, extrusion, pre-filtration, a vacuum filter from BB Engineering, and pelletizing and downstream melt application. Its process allows for all spinning waste to be directed back into production.
Beaulieu also displayed range of fibers, yarns and technical textiles that can replicate any type of staple fiber spinning technology using different type of polymers and additives with a variety of cross sections.