Chapter 6.9

Man-made fibres

Expert group

Demand for man-made fibres has dominated the global fibre market for several years. These include synthetic fibres such as polyester, which is now the most widely used fibre. In addition, regenerated cellulose fibres such as viscose also belong to man-made fibres.

The increasing demand for synthetic and cellulosic fibres takes up large amounts of resources. Negative environmental impacts occur in the extraction of raw materials, through energy and water consumption, as well as through the emission of greenhouse gases and the use of chemicals in the production of the fibres. There are various approaches to counteract this: obtaining sustainable raw materials, producing sustainable fibres, producing and using more recycled fibres. Especially from a circular economy perspective, the recycling of man-made fibres represents a huge potential to recover materials and minimise the use of virgin materials.

The expert group (EG) on man-made fibres started in 2018 with the aim of defining what sustainable man-made fibres are and what minimum requirements should apply. This should make it easier for companies to select and purchase more sustainable materials and fibre alternatives.

The group started work in 2021 on a roadmap with the aim of defining minimum criteria for man-made fibres. The first building block in the roadmap is factsheets on cellulosic and synthetic fibres. The PST member German Institute for Textile + Fibre Research (DITF) prepared the factsheets. For this purpose, DITF examined the fibres from different perspectives (bio-based, recycled and conventional) in order to establish decision-making criteria for a better evaluation of the fibres. The impact on the environment and the quality of the fibres are particularly relevant here. In 2022, the DITF presented the results and factsheets in the expert group.

Chapter 6.8
Organic Cotton
Chapter 7
Highlights 2022