Natural fibres such as cotton make up one-third of global production volume

Natural fibres such as cotton make up one-third of global production volume

Use of preferred fibres such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, biobased fibres and cellulosics is growing at a faster rate than conventional textiles – and is set to grow further in the future, according to a new report.

The outlook is shared in the second Preferred Fiber and Materials Market Report from non-profit organisation Textile Exchange, which notes that new production facilities are being built, conventional cotton is transitioning and new preferred fibres and materials are being developed.

The report is a collection of data about raw materials that are used to create textiles such as apparel, and has been designed as a tool to help brands, retailers, educators and NGOs understand about more sustainable material choices and resources. Preferred materials include recycled polyester, lyocell and organic cotton.

"Our long-term goal is to support the growth and development of the preferred fibres market (PFM) supply chain from fibre to finished product and on to the consumer," it notes.

Preferred fibres describes a choice made in selecting better ecologically and socially progressive options through the consideration of impacts and organisational priorities.

"In an evolving marketplace, the Textile Exchange Preferred Fibers Report provides pertinent information for the global supply chain. This report builds upon the series of data from previous years to monitor progression," explains Tricia Carey, Textile Exchange board vice-chair and director of business development for denim at Lenzing.

Data included in the report shows that global textile production volume increased 3.4% in 2014, with synthetic fibres rising 4.9% and natural fibres up 0.7%. Synthetic fibres account for 67.5% of total production volume, with natural fibres making up the remaining 32.5%.

It also names Nike Inc, The North Face, Target, H&M, Puma, Williams Sonoma, G-Star Raw, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Volcom and Prana as the top-10 users of recycled polyester.

The top-5 users of lyocell are Inditex, H&M, Target, G-Star Raw and Eileen Fisher.

Among its calls for action in 2015, Textile Exchange challenges the textile community to address today’s market use of synthetics and to adopt more sustainable options. And it urges companies to make commitments to producers to purchase preferred fibre and materials so they can deliver and invest in new developments.