Sustainable Fibers: Features, Properties, Application, Advantages and Market

Sustainable Fibers: Features, Properties, Application, Advantages, Disadvantages and Market

Samiksha Chougule
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


Sustainability refers to meeting human needs without overwhelming nature or society. To improve this, organic textile must include raw material cultivation, mass production, manufacturing, processing, packaging, labelling, and distribution of organic textile. Textiles are used all over the world. The finished product would consist of fibers, yarns, fabrics, and garments, as well as home textile products. Sustainable fibers provides a whole-lifecycle approach to the subject of sustainable textiles, from fiber production, through manufacturing and low-energy care and recycling.

sustainable fibers

It also looks into the quality of sustainable fibers in terms of high-level environmental and social criteria. It includes organic certification, labelling, and licensing to ensure the organic status of textiles from raw material harvesting to environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing units in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer. Synthetic or man made fibers have started to take over in the last 50 years. Apparel, home decor, industry, and agriculture all employ natural fibers. Names like acrylic, nylon, polyester, and polypropylene are given to man-made fibers. The success of synthetic fibers is a result of their low cost and little processing methodology. Popular synthetic fibers are mass manufactured from petrochemicals to consistent strengths, lengths, and colors. That may be easily tailored to individual needs applications. The growing “green” economy is built on the use of renewable feed stocks in polymer goods, energy efficiency, and industrial methods for material recycling that save a carbon footprint.

History of Sustainable Fibers:
Fabrics have been a crucial aspect of human life ever since the start of civilization. In the 27th century BC, silk marked the start of the history of fiber. Since ancient times, jute and coir have also been grown as crops. The 500-year-old wool carpet was discovered in Siberia. The earliest wool textile was discovered in Denmark and dates to 1500 B.C. These papers demonstrate how the availability of trustworthy suppliers of fabric has significantly altered. Since that time, their purpose has dominated the textile business. The majority of natural fibers are used to make garments, containers, and to soften, adorn, and insulate our homes. However, conventional textiles are increasingly employed in industrial settings, as well as in medical devices, composite materials, and other applications.

Natural fiber, particularly cotton, has historically been preferred by health-conscious shoppers versus synthetic clothes; cotton is one of the most environmentally friendly crops grown. A growing number of clothes, bedding, and other goods are now available to consumers that are manufactured from organic cotton, wool, linen, hemp, and flax. The Organic Trade Association recognizes that consumers and manufacturers are becoming more concerned with the environment as a result of the expanding garment market. Wool’s inherent qualities eliminate the need for additives, which means there are no dangerous off-gassings. The market for organic wool has continuously increased in size. Due to the need for nonchemical bedding materials, natural fibers have been receiving more attention than synthetic fiber. Small, regional, and independent farmers value sustainable agriculture producers of natural wool.

Sources and Application of Sustainable Fibers:

Jute is a popular natural fiber farmed throughout Asia, including India, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar. The jute plant develops to a height of 15-20 cm in 4 months, and the fiber is harvested during harvesting, which occurs around 4 months after cultivation. The retting procedure is carried out either chemically or biologically. The harvested stalks are bundled in bundles and left to soak in water for roughly 20 days in biological retting. This eliminates the pectin between the stem and the wood core, which aids in fiber separation.

Flax fiber has been manufactured since the ancient times. These fibers are extracted from the plant’s stems. It is mostly used to make linen. These are cellulose plants, but they are crystalline. These fibers may be up to 90 cm long and 12-16 m in diameter. The major producers of these fibers are the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. These fibers are utilized in furniture, textiles, bed sheets, linen, and interior décor items, among other things. The fiber extraction process includes retting and burning, both of which will affect the characteristics of the fiber. The enzymes involved in retting breakdown the pectin around the flax fiber, resulting in fiber separation. Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of flax in world.

Nettle is a popular herbaceous plant with 35-40 distinct species found in Europe, Asia, Northern Africa, and North America. The plant may grow up to 2 m in length, with soft, green leaves that are 3-15 cm long. The leaves and stems are typically hairy and covered with stinging hairs. The plants are harvested during the flowering phase to obtain the fiber. The fiber is removed by either retting or decorticating the stalks. Nettle fibers are commonly used in the textile sector, bioenergy, animal housing, and so forth. Attempts are now being undertaken to utilize nettle fibers on a large basis.

Pineapple Leaf:
The pineapple plant is one of the most widely grown and widely available plants. After pineapple production, the pineapple leaf fiber is agricultural waste. It is a small tropical plant that grows up to 1-2 m tall and has clusters of 20-30 leaves that are around 6 cm wide. Per acre, around 90-100 tons of pineapple leaves are cultivated. Pineapple leaf fibers have the best mechanical characteristics of any natural material. The fibers in pineapple leaves are multicellular and lingo-cellulosic. Scrapers were used to harvest the fibers by hand. Automobiles, textiles, carpets, construction, and other industries use it in a variety of ways. The treated and surface-modified fibers are utilized in the manufacture of conveyor belt cable, air bags, advanced composites, and other products.

Sisal is a popular natural fiber, and Brazil is a major producer. It is a plant native to southern Mexico that has a rosette of leaves that grows up to 1.5-2 m tall. In 6-7 years, the sisal produces roughly 200-250 commercially useful leaves. Sisal fibers have a wide variety of mechanical qualities and are utilized in the automobile sector, shipping industry (for anchoring small boats and handling cargo), civil constructions, elevator fiber cores, agricultural twine or baler twine, and so on.

The date palm is a kind of palm that is widely produced for its fruit. Date palm biodiversity is found all over the world, with around 19 kinds and over 5,000 farmers. Date palm trees are the tallest of the Phoenix species, reaching up to 23 meters in height. Every year, after harvesting the date farm fruits, the date palm rachis and leaves are amassed in great quantities in various nations’ farming fields. These fibers have the potential to be exploited as cellulosic fiber sources. These fibers derived from leaves and rachis can be employed as reinforcement for thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers. Some researchers have discovered ways to utilize date palm fibers in the automobile industry.

Advantages of Sustainable Fibers:
Sustainable textile reduces:

  • Water pollution,
  • Carbon emissions, and
  • Large amounts of waste

Unfortunately, the bulk of the most prominent clothing labels source and produce their products elsewhere. They do this because it is more cost efficient, but in general, international production and rapid fashion have a detrimental environmental impact. This is why the best sustainable apparel manufacturers manufacture their products in the United States or in a small regulated (and ethical) environment someplace else in the world.

Made in the USA apparel manufacturers feature superior quality control and a lower total carbon footprint due to their close proximity. When one buys American-made goods online, one avoid the high carbon emissions associated with international shipping. To fulfill the increased demand for sustainable textiles, new sustainable solutions must be investigated. Many mills in China have closed owing to the implementation of tough legislation to address the problem of water shortages and textile pollution. Implementing such legislation raises consumer awareness of the importance of purchasing textiles that use less water, energy, and chemicals, hence reducing the environmental effect.

It is apparent that the textile industry is through a time of transition in order to build demand for sustainable yarns and fabrics. Furthermore, ‘Going Green’ should not imply making large financial investments or attempting to meet unachievable expectations. In the current context, corporate performance is inextricably related to economic, social, and environmental stability. The government must also establish a suitable environment for businesses to follow a sustainable strategy.

Disadvantage of Sustainable Fibers:
Every coin has 2 sides in same way sustainable fibers have some disadvantages or limitations. The initial investment or implementation cost is prohibitively expensive.

People are still unfamiliar with the technology, thus it will take time for it to be adopted by a bigger audience.

Technology is continually changing, and many items are still in the research and development stage. As a consequence, individuals are oblivious of performance results.

Skilled human resources are required to install or integrate green technology-based goods or systems. Most countries’ policies for green technology-based systems have not been developed. In the long term, it incurs more running costs and hence higher overall costs which may unaffordable for middle class people.

Because it employs renewable natural resources, it must make certain compromises in end product quality.

Market for the Sustainable Textile:
The Global Sustainable Fabrics Market is estimated to exceed USD 69.5 billion by 2030, growing at a 12.50% CAGR (2021-2030) by Market Motivators

The growing awareness of sustainable materials technology and textiles.

Polyester fabric is known to be made from crude oil, all fabric washes produce a plastic microfiber. These are discharged into waterways, contaminating lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water before entering and affecting the human body and animal cycle. This is a major cause of concern that might choke the market’s growth prospects for the remainder of the current projected period, which ends in 2030.

Key Players / Companies Profiled in Relation to Sustainability:

  1. Grasim
  2. Vivify Textiles
  3. Foss Performance Materials
  4. Teijin Limited
  5. US Fibers
  6. Pure Waste Textiles Ltd
  7. Poly fiber Industries
  8. Wellman Advanced Materials
  9. Pilipinas Ecofiber Corp

During the forecast period, the global fabric market will be driven by an increasing degree of awareness regarding sustainable materials technology textiles. Some regional and global governments’ policies and rules, such as 100% FDI textile, are enhancing the implementation of government schemes under the ministry of textiles, such as up-gradation of technology schemes, silk sector schemes, skill development schemes, integrated wool development programme, handicrafts schemes, jute sector schemes, and others, such as power loom sector schemes.

The pollution of natural water sources as a result of dumping techniques, however, is one of the key challenges that would impede the market from expanding throughout the predicted time. Additionally, landfills are overloaded as a result of compensating for textile industry waste and fabric waste, which is extremely uncomfortable and has a negative impact on environmental conditions and laws. The environment is negatively impacted by the global economy. As a result, in order to lessen the impact, researchers, producers, and end users are giving sustainable textile materials a lot of attention.

In the fields of textiles, fashion, clothing, and home textiles, new sustainable brands are introduced every day. The necessity of the hour is for sustainable manufacturing. The eco-design industry is becoming more promising thanks to interesting efforts, and it may even expand over the next few years. For instance, the alternative clothing company Pinatex employs oxo-biodegradable mailing bags and has put in place a vendor recycling scheme. In addition to recycling around 1.8 million plastic bottles, it substitutes organic cotton for conventional cotton. Upasana is a well-known brand in India that employs organic cotton mixed with ayurvedic herbs including tulsi, sandalwood, and neem. The clothing made from these fibers has both a therapeutic function and unique colors. In order to maintain the textile industry in the near future, we must put a strong emphasis on sustainability in the sector by enhancing resource productivity, co-efficiency, cost efficiency, customer satisfaction, brand reputation, environmental conditions, etc., as well as ensuring better health conditions for both wearers and workers.


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1 thought on “Sustainable Fibers: Features, Properties, Application, Advantages and Market”

  1. This blog truly covers all aspects related to Sustainable Fibers from About, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages. Getting to know about them in so much detail was definitely helpful. Thank you for sharing!!


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