Today, BESTSELLER announces its participation in the Renewable Carbon Textiles Project, orchestrated by Fashion for Good. The project brings together a pioneering consortium to accelerate the development of Polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHA polymer fibres; a promising biosynthetic alternative to fossil fuel-based fibres such as polyester with the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the fashion supply chain.
The consortium of key industry players will investigate, test and validate the solutions provided by innovators in the PHA polymer space. With start-up funding provided by Laudes Foundation, collaborating partners include BESTSELLER, Norrøna, PVH Corp. and the Fabrics Division of W. L. Gore & Associates, who will provide industry expertise and financial support. This will enable the evaluation of the suitability of PHA polymers, accelerate fibre development and production, and determine scalability in the traditional supply chain. The end-of-use pathways for the fibres will be evaluated through third-party degradation and recyclability testing to ensure circularity.
Bio Craft Innovation, Full Cycle Bioplastics and Newlight, leading innovators in the field of biopolymers, join the project applying their expertise in biology, chemistry and engineering to not only produce the fibres, but also further develop fibre melt-spinning, a traditionally challenging, yet critical step in PHA production.
“There is an urgent need to find replacements for the predominantly fossil-based fibres in the fashion industry through solutions such as biosynthetics from renewable sources. PHA polymers represent an exciting, yet challenging solution for reducing carbon emissions in the fashion industry, and this project aims to drive further innovation in this space to bring them to scale,” says Katrin Ley, Managing Director, Fashion for Good.
Alongside the technical feasibility study, the project includes a range of degradation testing that will be conducted by Organic Waste Systems (OWS). Leading in biodegradability, compostability and ecotoxicity testing, OWS will run tests in marine, soil, freshwater and landfill environments next year to assess the biochemical properties of the fibres and whether they break down in these environments.
“It is important to consider the circular perspective, as well as the end-of-use of plastic and polyester products, so they don’t end up in landfill and the environment. The use of fibres such as PHA will ensure that textiles can be effectively composted when entering the ocean, freshwater or soil. And hopefully, PHA will prove successful in a circular economy as well,” says Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, Sustainable Materials and Innovation Manager, BESTSELLER.
Read the full press release here.
About PHAs and the innovators
PHAs belong to an emerging class of biobased, marine and soil compostable polymers.
They are produced through a fermentation process using various renewable carbon-based feedstocks, including organic food waste, methane gas and captured CO2.
Emphasis is placed on using feedstocks that are not directly competing with food and feed crops, divert biological feedstocks from landfill and utilise waste gases in the production of their fibres.
PHAs have a wide range of chemical, thermal and mechanical properties and can be engineered to have similar performance characteristics as conventional synthetic fibres.
Full Cycle Bioplastics use inedible food waste, whilst Newlight’s use of carbon capture technology transforms carbon from greenhouse gases into PHA biopolymers. Bio craft Innovation produces a blended PHA composite using biomass from bamboo production. Material for fibre production will be provided by each of these innovators and they will demonstrate that their product can meet industry requirements in both quality and quantity needed for scalable production.