Biosynthetics

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BIOSYNTHETICS

ABOUT BIOSYNTHETICS


Biosynthetics are an emerging preferred fiber, gaining traction with clothing, footwear, and household brands and retailers due to their use of renewable resources and their potential to mitigate climate change compared to their petroleum-based counterparts.

In line with a broader vision, biosynthetic textiles are part of the transition towards a biobased economy.

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Learn more about Biosynthetics on our microsite:

aboutbiosynthetics.org


KEY CHALLENGES

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LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS
There is already a developing portfolio of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data on which to base the sustainability impacts of biosynthetics. However, as an emerging fiber, these metrics are currently inconsistent in terms of: depth of work studied, framework of LCA boundaries and methodology, use of open sourced data, and breadth of data to represent variations in global regions and supply bases.
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FEEDSTOCK
Crops (1st generation): Commercially available at scale. Bio feedstocks currently used for production of biobased fuels and chemicals include: corn, sugar cane, sugar beet, wheat and sorghum.
Waste (2nd generation): Pilot and demonstration stage (not commercially available at scale). Bio feedstocks requiring further technical development include: biomass resources from agriculture and forestry.
Non-Food Resources (3rd generation): Concept and pilot stage (not commercially available at scale). Feedstock is from algae, bacteria, etc. grown specifically as a bio resource. Algae is grown with water, CO2 and sunlight and does not require any food source.
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END OF LIFE
Higher value can be gained from biosynthetic textiles when engineered for recycling within existing recycling infrastructure. Biodegradability is often misconstrued as a benefit of biosynthetics. In specific conditions, biosynthetics can biodegrade through composting processes, however, some petro-based synthetics can do the same. It is a misconception that all biosynthetics are compostable, or that compost is a preferred option for end-of-life. The preferred end-of-life option for biosynthetics is upcycling or recycling.


BEST PRACTICE


First steps to using Biosynthetics:

Today’s portfolio of commercially available biosynthetic fibers includes PLA (Polylactic Acid), partially biobased PTT (Polytrimethylene Terephthalate), partially biobased PET (polyester), PA11 (Nylon/Polyamide 11) along with a number of bio alternatives to PA6,10, PA10,10 and PA10,12.

Companies are also working on developing new technologies for commercially producing biobased aromatic chemicals – the basic building blocks for making both nylons and polyesters for apparel – from renewable feedstocks. Successful scale up and commercial production of these biobased chemicals would enable future production of 100 percent biobased synthetic polymers.

Supplier Listing


COLLABORATION

JOIN THE BIOSYNTHETIC WORKING GROUP

Textile Exchange’s Biosynthetics Working Group kicked off in 2016 and the inaugural in-person meeting in Hamburg attracted much interest from attendees wanting to learn more about this lesser-known fiber. The focus of the Biosynthetics Working Group to date has been the creation of the AboutBiosynthetics.org microsite, released in 2018, which gathers and synthesizes available information and resources on Biosynthetics with the goal of enabling this relatively new material to become a larger part of companies’ company’s preferred fiber and material portfolios.

TAKE ACTION – JOIN THE WORKING GROUP


If you are interested in joining this group, please send an email to: Materials@TextileExchange.org