The textile industry, an ever-growing industry with a high demand that leaves major environmental impacts throughout the world. Clothes, footwear, and household textiles are responsible for water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and landfill, with 10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production of textiles. A change needs to be made and these impacts have to be addressed. Do you want to know how to tackle these impacts? Well, look no further than the third episode of Loops.

Veltha would like to introduce you to GRETE and Glaukos, two Horizon 2020 projects that are working to find innovative solutions to improve the life cycle of textiles. The projects have their different areas of textile improvement with both being done in circular and innovative ways.

GRETE: The GRETE project is the first of the two to present their vision. The project aims to improve the existing wood-to-textile value chains by developing breakthrough technologies that can open up the identified bottlenecks and enable increased production of man-made cellulose fibres in Europe. Representing GRETE was project coordinator Veronica Sarbach, throughout the project presentation she expressed the aims of the project highlighting the ambition and actions they have commenced and continuing to achieve. 

Veronica showcases how one of GRETE’s main aims is to improve the existing textile value chain by using a new raw material based on standard paper grade pulp, by implementing novel green technologies. The technologies are based on ionic liquid (IL) chemicals and recovery process for cellulose dissolution with a novel post-modification process that will result in man-made cellulosic fibres which will then widen the sustainable raw materials bases for man-made fibres across Europe. The project also aims to increase safety and sustainability in the manufacturing of raw materials.

The GRETE project approaches are circular and will tackle the issues that exist within the textile industry but it will also improve and support the bio-based industry, as the project is a part of and funded by the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) and the European Commission via the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) programme. The GRETE project wants to achieve an efficient and sustainable low carbon economy and to increase economic growth and employment in the bio-based sector. 

Veronica finishes the presentation by showing the audience GRETE’s contribution to EU policy. Presenting how the project aims to support growth and industrialization across Europe, strengthening the link between science and policy-makers, and overall help answer the challenges addressed in the European Bioeconomy 2030. Using circular and innovative ways to tackle the challenges such as sustainable production, climate change, and more.

Glaukos: a project with circular solutions and the goal of a sustainable future. The project was attended by project coordinator Tanja Meyer, giving us an insightful presentation on the exciting and innovative work the Glaukos project is doing. Starting by exploring the project’s aims to develop biobased textile fibres and textile coatings. Showing us the project’s goal to redesign the complete lifecycle of clothing and fishing gear with the ambition to reduce the carbon and plastic footprint of these products throughout Europe.

As Tanja dived into the Glaukos project she began to talk about the socio-economic relation aims of the project that will enhance the framework for sustainable innovation. One of the aims was on how they plan to set up more stakeholder labs, having one been a success, and how they hope to plan more in the near future. Tanja began to tell us about the stakeholder lab and how they discovered the challenges the project has faced and will face, challenges involving feedstock, technical-scientific challenges for the polymer development, and utility challenges. The project also found challenges within their circular processes such as the eco-design and End of Life.

The technical innovations presented by Tanja showed us how the project’s development of biobased textile fibres for clothing and fish gear is helping to mitigate microplastic pollution, enhance biobased materials sustainability performance, and develop eco-friendly products. 

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The future of the circular economy in textiles? Hear what our speakers had to say!

The episode finished with a question asking both the speakers what they thought of the future of the textile industry with the focus on the circular approach. Both speakers seemed eager about the future of the industry. Glaukos found from a technical and material point of view that more people can accept the circular approach believing a difference can be made. GRETE believes that the approach can be a success but it needs to be tackled on both sides of the issues facing the textile industry: the consumer needs to be aware of circular solutions and on the other side the technology and production need to be put in place to help overcome this strenuous challenge. 

Check out the full video available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Euz8XN01lw&t=243s

Stay tuned for more news and updates about our upcoming fourth episode of Loops 2.0. Joining us on the 30th of November will be RUN4LIFE and ZEROBRINE. Two Horizon 2020 projects exploring circular solutions to tackle water reuse.