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October 20, 2022

Sustainable Innovations project to optimise green performance of bio-based textile industry

Spanish consultancy Sustainable Innovations has partnered with Aligned, a project lining up Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies and bio-based sectors, including textiles, for improved environmental performance.

By Michelle Russell

Sustainable Innovations will work with 11 partners from seven different countries over 36 months to provide an evidence-based decision-making modelling framework.

For this, industries, and representatives of five bio-based sectors: construction, woodworking, textile, pulp and paper, and biochemicals, will share learnings from their activities and provide relevant data in terms of environmental assessments of bio-based products.

The new and harmonised modelling framework will be tested and refined via iterative application and improvement. This is designed to maximise industrial relevance and interoperability and allow for assessment studies across the bio-based sectors.

The main responsibilities of Sustainable Innovations in this project are to define and implement the communication strategy (corporate branding development, website, social media strategy, etc.), to coordinate the dissemination of Aligned and engage stakeholders around the bio-based industry and the LCA practitioners, and to manage the knowledge and Intellectual Property (IP) that will emerge from Aligned, ensuring widespread adoption of the LCA systemic framework by the bio-based sector.

“We are proud of the work we have been carrying out in the past years in the bio-economy field and we are excited to have the opportunity to continue working in this sector,” says Jesús Serrano, deputy general manager at Sustainable Innovations. “With this project, we have extended our portfolio to a total of 11 initiatives related to the bio-industry, and we hope to keep on bringing Europe to the forefront of the bio-based economy.”

With a turnover value of EUR2.3trn (US$2.3trn) and accounting for 8.2% of the European Union workforce, the bio-economy is a central element to the functioning and success of the EU economy, according to Sustainable Innovations. The bio-based industry is the part of economy formed by companies that use biological input (feedstock) to produce material, products. and services. It can be the biomass extracted from natural environment and purpose grown biomass, as well as different forms of biological waste, side streams and residues.

According to Sustainable Innovations, the green transition towards a sustainable economy, including the bio-based sectors, is dependent on consistent and comparable product environmental assessment studies. One of these frameworks is the LCA, a modelling approach for the holistic analysis of the impacts, mainly environmental, generated by products, services, organisations, policies, and plans. LCA is a central tool for environmental management and decision support and has become one of the key tools for assisting the direction of the green transition because of the method’s capabilities for assessing impacts in a full system perspective.

However, current LCA practices for assessing bio-based products are not homogeneous nor harmonised and Sustainable Innovations says there is a need to solve this fragmentation by delivering one harmonised methodology for LCA of the bio-based sectors, obtained via scientific improvements that overcome the major existing limitations of current methods.

Bio-based materials have become a popular innovation within the apparel industry. The Lycra Company and Qore recently entered an alliance to develop a bio-engineered spandex with a 44% lower carbon footprint, while Hyosung TNC, the fibre arm of Hyosung Corporation, has succeeded in extracting spandex from corn and commercialising the world’s first bio-based spandex.

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