The following alarming facts were shared by the European Commission:
A lifetime of textiles
Households consume large amounts of textile products per year with an average textile consumption per person amounted to 6 kg of clothing, 6.1 kg of household textiles and 2.7 kg of shoes.
We must acknowledge that the use of synthetic fibers based on man-made polymers offer numerous advantages, including excellent mechanical properties and functionality, well thought-out production processes and less pressure on agricultural land in terms of water demand and fertiliser use compared to natural fibers.
Yet, in fact, we cannot continue to ignore the drawbacks.
About 1% of world crude oil production is used to manufacture synthetic fibers. This 1% counts for 42 billion liters of fossil oil, which can be compared with 16.800 filled Olympic Swimming Pools! The demand for synthetic fibers is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years. Global textiles production almost doubled between 2000 and 2015, and the consumption of textiles and shoes is expected to increase by another 63% by 2030.
Did you know that we are generating unintentional waste closer to our homes, in our homes, on a daily basis? Up to 5 grams of microfibers are being released per machine wash. Thousands of tonnes* of microfibers end up in the sewage system each year – in Belgium ALONE!
Not taken back by this figure?!
We challenge you to make a global calculation.
The majority of fibers are synthetic, such as PET polyester and polyamides, which are synthetic plastics that came in full production regime by the mid 20th century – at that time never designed with a clever end-of-life in mind. As a consequence, the microfibers from these PET polyesters and polyamides, being tiny fragmented plastics also called microplastics, fly around “by a breath” and get into our water, our feedstock and eventually under our skin, where they will persist for centuries!
*Calculation: 1054 mg/kg washed fabric x 5 kg of laundry per single use of washing machine x 104 times washing machine use per year x 5 M households = 2,600 tonnes microfibers released through washing per year in Belgium
Lifespan and quality
Fashion trends change very quickly and with this also the quality of products. This decreasing quality leads to even more microfiber particles being shedded from synthetic fiber products during their lifetime through wear, tear and wash.
When it comes to the lifespan of clothes per person, studies show that clothes that “fall out of use” have an average lifespan of 5.4 years and remain in the adult owner’s closet for about 4 years, while clothes for children and teenagers have the shortest lifespan.
Finally, when clothes are no longer worn, they often end up in residual waste, which in turn is incinerated or dumped on landfills, with the well-known images of textile heaps burned on our retinas. When clothes are sorted and reused (i.e. recycled), this counts for only a marginal 1% of all textiles worldwide.
A shift to a sustainable textile industry is urgently needed. This new industry should ensure a longer use of fabrics and support a new “way of life(style)”. We need to RETHINK and want to call on textile manufacturers to follow that same green path.
The European Union’s proposal for sustainable and circular textiles targets sustainable, recyclable and ethically produced textiles entering the EU market by 2030. Supported by this strong initiative, we at B4Plastics want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with global brand owners, textile vendors and local governments. Only by clubbing together we can make a change – and a very much needed one!
FORTAN® meets the world
A solution is needed to address the impact of the plastic textile industry.
By combining the high-performance attributes of synthetic fibers, B4Plastics has developed a novel material that offers degradability of fibers at the micro-particle level, presenting the brand-new and urgently needed non-persistent microplastics textile from its strong material FORTAN®. The Best of Both Worlds.
FORTAN®, as part of the FortePlastics technology platform, strikes a balance of superior performance, resistance to wear, and long-term biodegradability.
Mostly made from bio-based feedstocks, FORTAN® reduces dependence on fossil feedstocks and contributes to a sustainable, new fashion normal. Most importantly, B4Plastics’ FORTAN® material is designed to be non-persistent in natural environments, breaking down to CO2 and biomass within years to decades depending on the external factors and its application – as opposed to the current 400-600 years lifespan of microplastics.
Change is coming. Are you joining us on this mission?
The unique added values of FORTAN® compared to commonly used, mostly fossil fibers:
Discover our specifications of FORTAN®.
Partner up – building the New Plastics Economy is a practice best done together.
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Sources and further reading