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By 2030, the textile industry wants to make half of its products biobased. That does not seem as easy as it sounds. Biobased fibers and yarns often only consist of about 70% polymers. The remainder consists of additives to improve properties, such as plasticizers, flame retardants, dyes, stabilizers, adhesives and nucleating agents. Usually these are still petroleum-based.
Editorial office / Geleen

The Interreg project: ‘Pure Nature 100% Biobased’ wants to offer sustainable, non-toxic, biodegradable alternatives based on renewable raw materials. Amongst others Centexbel (Belgian technical and scientific center for the textile industry), Avans Foundation and the Flemish textile company De Saedeleir Textile Platform join forces for this.

HZ University of Applied Sciences focuses in the project on natural dyes from marine organisms, such as algae. Avans focuses on agricultural crops with sorgum and onion peels, among other things. The developed additives undergo laboratory tests in which different combinations are applied via compounding (mixing in molten state), extrusion (spinning into fibers in melted state), coating, finishing and dyeing. After analysis of the obtained compounds and textile fibers, it is determined which chemical technology is most suitable for complete (100%) biobased textile products. In addition, these processes are being investigated on a pilot scale and various companies are continuing to develop tufted carpet, clothing, bedding and non-woven carpet backing.

Sustainability benefits

The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials is the lead organisation and conducts research in three departments on new fibers and additives, and making production more sustainable in a more general sense. ‘To really prove the sustainability benefits of biobased alternatives we need to do a complete assessment, of fossil-based materials as well,’ says Yvonne van der Meer of AMIBM. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to choose only the most sustainable options. ‘Technical properties remain the guiding principle.’