Textiles are everywhere, in our clothes, furniture, cars, to mention a few. And this reminds us that the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries. It generates greenhouse gases and produces a high amount of polluted wastewater. From 2015 to 2030, the estimated water consumption and CO2 emissions will increase by at least 50% if the textile industry remains the same.*
One way to minimize the textile industry environmental footprint is to reconsider its raw materials. The primary textile materials are fossil-based synthetic fibres followed by cotton and so-called artificial cellulosic fibres, including wood-based fibres. Synthetic fibres require fossil resources extraction and processing and will eventually break down into micro and nano plastics. At the same time, although a renewable resource, cotton demands water, arable land fertilisers, and pesticides. Both fibres have, therefore, a significant environmental impact.
SUSTAINABLE TEXTILE FIBRES
The demand for alternative sustainable textile fibres is urgent, and cellulose – a wood-based fibre might be a good solution. Nowadays, however, the raw material base to produce man-made cellulose fibres is limited and the solvent systems currently available to make them are often based on toxic or explosive chemicals. Plus, they still require a water-intense wet process. But everything is about to change with Ioncell technology!
Ioncell is a technology that turns used textiles, pulp or even old newspapers into new textile fibres without harmful chemicals. The process uses a novel solvent called ionic liquid, an environmentally friendly solvent that can be recycled, and it isn’t flammable. The resulting fibres feel soft and are strong even when wet, tenacious and work well in both clothing and technical applications.
The Ioncell process could revolutionize the textile recycling process by enabling waste to get a new life as high-quality fibres. One of the first brands to join this revolution was Marimekko . An Ioncell™ fabric woven with a lyocell warp was printed with the iconic Unikko pattern with good results. Hopefully, more brands will join this revolution!
source and images credit: ioncell.fi/ marimekko.com