Q&a / Textile Science
”Seaweed, manure, and straw will be developed for cellulosic textile fibres”
On the new EU-funded project making fibres of novel waste streams
12 Apr 2021

Hanning works as a senior project leader and researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

— My main areas are textile chemistry and material science. In recent years I have been focusing on reducing microplastics from textiles on both a national and international level, she tells.

She and RISE now join Herewear, an EU-funded 4-year research project with the aim to establish a market in the EU for locally-produced textiles made from locally sourced, bio-based materials. Today, most garments are made of either polyester (about 64%) or cotton (about 22%). The oil-based polyester is used for its strength, durability, and cost-effectiveness, while cotton is used for its comfort, but is grown in, for example, India with a lot of pesticides that negatively affect the environment and with high water consumption. Herewear wants to revise the fashion industry’s value chain and create a focus on sustainability, as well as influence consumers’ views on circular textiles and materials.

— In the project, RISE is responsible for the environmental assessments of the new fibres, intermediates, and ready-made garments. It includes LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), LCC (Life Cycle Cost), s-LCA (social-Life Cycle Assessment), and mitigation of fibre fragmentation — microplastics release — through the whole textile value chain, Hanning shares.

You’ll also introduce new and innovative raw material sources.

— Yes, three novel waste streams — seaweed, manure, and straw — will be developed for cellulosic textile fibres. These raw materials contain a reasonable amount of cellulose to be extracted and thus a possibility to produce textile fibres. Bio-based polyester fibres will be produced by our colleagues in Belgium by blending PLA (Polylactid Acid) with PBS (Polybutylene succinate) and/or PHA (Polyhydroxalkanoates). First trials are underway right now.  

Herewear also works to establish European micro factories.

— The idea is to connect existing facilities and suppliers in a network, says Hanning. We will use a digital platform for connecting the factories and also a digital tool for tracing the textiles. One of our partners, CEDECS-TBCL in France, already has more than 240 member companies within the textile value chain signed up to actively work more sustainably and together. So you can say that one of the goals is to increase production in small-scale European factories.

What do you hope will come out of Herewear?

— New sustainable ready-made garments from local sources in Europe, designed and manufactured in Europe and used in Europe — that is closing the loop of textiles in Europe, says Hanning, adding,

— There is another EU-funded textile project called New Cotton where RISE is a partner, using the fibre from Infinited Fiber Company in Finland.