Textiles & Sustainability

In the textile industry, there are two types of fibers - natural and synthetic. Synthetic fibers are created from human-made or artificial sources. Since the 20th century, synthetic fibers have played an essential role in clothing, especially in the fashion industry. Lately, there has been an upheaval in the applications of synthetic textiles in avenues such as home décor and healthcare. However, concerns about sustainability and the circular economy of textiles have risen. A circular economy is an organized approach designed to benefit business, society and the environment while charting the course to economic development. It will become easier to make fibers re-usable in an ideal circular economy case and incorporate them in new products.

It is a known fact that the degradation of polymers takes a few thousand years, and the recyclability of synthetic textiles poses an enormous challenge to society. The problem of disposing off synthetic fibers has created obstacles in future applications as most synthetic materials end up in landfills, causing pollution. The only way to address this is to recycle synthetic fibers. Large garment conglomerates like H&M have already started accepting used clothes for integrating synthetic fibers back into the value chain.

Future Developments Synthetic fibers have become an integral part of our daily lives. Applications in synthetic fibers continue to rise over natural fibers due to various advantages, including their wrinkle-free nature and water-proof properties. One such application is in the field of electronic conductors. Recent developments have shown that coated fibers such as thermo-electric textiles can conduct electricity when heated. For applications involving close proximity to the human body, bodily heat can cause generation of electricity. This latest technology finds application in the health care industry. For example, electronic-textiles can be used to monitor processes related to regulating and measuring various health metrics. These e-textiles are nothing but coated synthetic fibers which remain conductive even after washing several times. Researchers have also developed coated bio-degradable cellulose fibers that can conduct electricity. Dyeing cellulose (loncell type) with an electrically conductive polymeric material gives the cellulose thread a high conductivity. Further, through the addition of silver nanowires, conductivity shows an even better performance.

It is possible to use synthetic fibers for various applications if we can use them sustainably. The applications mentioned above give you a peek into what might be the potential use-cases for your textile products. And as you recycle, re-use and remake plastic products, Polymerize can help you reduce iterative experimental work by choosing suitable candidates/formulations for your product development process. The better the candidates, the better your product and the happier your customer.