Bio-based Textile Industry

Organic clothes.

From a global perspective, synthetic fibres dominate the market with a share of around 62%, followed by cotton, 24%; other natural plant fibres, such as flax and hemp, 6%; while animal fibres account for 2%, half of which is wool (Textile Exchange, 2021). The remaining 6% encompass regenerated fibres.

The chemical industry has recently introduced new bio-based fibres, such as bio-nylon and bio-polyester. These fibres are made from sources like vegetable oils, starches, and sugars obtained from biomass, replacing the use of fossil materials. This shift in materials helps lower the environmental impact of textile production by reducing the reliance on fossil resources.

These bio-based synthetic fibres are already available in the market. They can be either entirely derived from biomass, making them 100% bio-based, or they might contain a mixture of around 50% bio-based materials and fossil resources. Although bio-based fibres currently make up a small portion of the market, their production volumes are increasing rapidly.

According to the European Bioplastics Association and the Nova Institute, a prominent European research centre in this field, the current production of chemical fibres from bio-based sources is close to 300 thousand tons.

Under the leadership of NTT, the BIORADAR project aims to evaluate the environmental sustainability and circularity of textile products. This assessment goes beyond traditional circular economy principles that focus on waste treatment and recyclability. Instead, it incorporates a fresh perspective on circular economy, encompassing the repurposing and comprehensive redesign of products to minimise environmental impact.

Bio-fertiliser / Bio-chemical Industry

Agricultural irrigation system on sunny summer day.

The European Union seeks to become a self-sustainable region by transforming its linear economy into a circular one. To achieve this goal, one of the steps to take is not to require raw materials from third countries, fostering the use of secondary feedstocks. An example of this is the production of fertilisers from biological raw materials (bio-fertilisers).

Since July 16th, 2022, the European bio-fertiliser industry has been undergoing significant changes due to the implementation of the New Fertilising Product Regulation (FPR). This regulation is designed to reduce the usage of synthetic products and impose more stringent requirements for circular economy marking and aims to create a unified market for bio-based fertilisers.

From an environmental perspective, the new regulation introduces stricter limits for contaminants in fertilisers and encourages the use of recycled materials in fertiliser production, aiming to decrease reliance on imported nutrients and promote the development of a circular economy.

On a social level, many farmers are unaware of the details of this new policy, therefore, the legislation seeks to increase awareness and consumer confidence by ensuring the safety of fertiliser products.

As part of the BIORADAR project, CETENMA will chart the entire bio-fertiliser value chain, considering the existing legislation and integrating insights from other EU funded projects like FER-PLAY. The goal is to gather concrete data on the environmental, social, and cost impacts of bio-fertilisers. These metrics will then be validated with input from industry stakeholders, making it easier for them to transition their production processes toward more sustainable methods.

Bio-packaging Industry

Recicle plastic materials

The world relies heavily on plastics derived from fossil fuels, and in Europe alone, over 50 million tons of these plastics are used annually, with, approximately, 32% of the resulting waste being recycled. More than 40% of plastics are produced for packaging, of which about 30% leaks into the environment. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that plastic packaging┬┤s recyclability and circularity are enhanced.

To address this issue, bio-plastics have emerged as a potential alternative to fossil-based plastics. Despite their ongoing growth and their ability to shift production to renewable sources, bio-plastics still only constitutes around 1-2% of the consumed and produced plastics.

Heading this BIORADAR use case, IRIS will chart and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) and reliable factors for assessing bio-packaging. This task will be accomplished by considering existing European policies and collaborating with ongoing and past projects, such as PRESERVE, that have successfully contributed to enhancing the upcycling, recyclability, and end-of-life (EoL) processes of bio-plastics.