How to make sustainability a positive business case for the textile industry?

Karoliina Rasi

Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) gathered a group of stakeholders from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and companies in a webinar to discuss how to make sustainability a positive business case for the textile industry

The EU’s upcoming Textile Strategy aims to shift EU to a climate-neutral, circular economy where products are designed to be more recyclable and energy-efficient. A successful EU Textile strategy will no doubt provide an opportunity for a competitive and sustainable EU textile sector in the future.

As the textile companies have already found several innovative solutions to the global sustainability and climate challenges, such as turning textile waste to new fibre, we must ensure the seamless import and export of the waste or secondary raw material what it becomes. Bottlenecks and structural barriers still exist in this respect and must be removed.

“As some 80 % of textiles sold in the EU market are produced outside the union, the measures of the EU textile strategy should apply equally to all textiles entering the EU market”, underlined Ms. Henna Virkkunen, MEP.

Ms. Eva Dalenstam from the European Commission reminded that the upcoming Sustainable Product Policy Initiative aims to improve design for sustainability, including eco-design measures and digital product passport will likely be foreseen for textiles.

“Every second one truckload filled with textile waste is either burned or landfilled in the world,” said Mr. Petri Alava, CEO of textile regeneration technology group Infinited Fiber Company. “We need to find a solution for the increasing textile waste problem and the unsustainable consumption of resources like land and water. Infinited Fiber Company’s technology enables us to turn different cellulose-rich waste streams, like textile waste, into a new, circular textile fibre. It looks and feels like cotton, and it’s called Infinna™”. Infinited Fiber Company is currently preparing to build a flagship factory in Finland to produce 30,000 metric tons of Infinna annually from 2024.

Ms. Outi Luukko, Managing Director of Rester Oy, shared the news about the recent opening of Scandinavia’s biggest textile recycling plant. In the coming 20 years the textile waste will increase 20-fold and currently only 1% of the textile waste is recycled in the world. The end -of- life textiles will be treated here, and the European regulation must ensure the fluent transport of the textile waste. “We cannot afford losing raw materials. We need a clear goal for the system change, which we are currently experiencing”, she concluded.

“To ensure a competitive European textile sector, we indeed need to support the innovations and invest on the sector”, Ms. Satumaija Levón from Finnish Textile and Fashion Industries’ reminded.