Future textiles may be made from agricultural, paper, textile waste, which could also address current fiber shortage concerns, says SAFI consortium study at NCSU; virgin cotton is not environmentally sustainable due to water, land use requirements

Sample article from our Bioeconomy

NANJING, China , January 19, 2024 (press release) –

In 50 years, we may be sporting apparel made from agricultural, paper, and textile waste.

The global population has grown to exceed 8 billion, and the demand for textiles has increased with it. Common synthetic fibers like polyester can be manufactured quickly and cheaply, but their negative environmental impacts are becoming increasingly concerning. Cotton, although a natural and biodegradable fiber, requires sizable land and water use, which also adds stress to the environment. Land in the future will be important for food crops and development to feed and shelter the growing population, and planting more non-food crops like cotton will take away from the already dwindling available land. Textile manufacturers are under tremendous pressure to make more and more textile fiber without bringing about any additional environmental burden. Fiber recycling has played an important role and could serve as part of the solution, but this area is still emerging and needs more infrastructure, buy-in from brands, and high levels of organization and cooperation.

Therefore, the authors have proposed using waste materials such as agricultural residues, recycled paper and board, and old cotton textile waste as raw materials for regenerative textile manufacturing. Thus far, no study has evaluated the potential of such waste sources for textile applications in such a comprehensive manner.  

Simplified process steps for converting non-wood feedstocks (such as agricultural waste) to textile fibers, Credit: the authors 

“The article mostly focuses on the potential of agricultural residues, as these waste sources have well-documented volumes and could serve as a good solution to the shortage of fiber in the United States,” explains PhD candidate Ryen Frazier, who led the research on this topic. Ryen’s work is part of a larger research consortium named SAFI (Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiative), led by her research advisor at North Carolina State University. SAFI is a global initiative for sustainable fiber development that focuses on researching, developing, and utilizing alternative fibers to manufacture a myriad of sustainable products. “Although the raw materials can vary in chemical and physical properties, if we understand the differences, we may be able to use this to our advantage to tune properties in the final textile fibers or to prioritize one feedstock over another.”

The authors conclude that in North America, soybean, wheat, rice, sorghum, and sugarcane residues are widely available and the most suitable candidates for textile conversion. Recycled materials are also a good feedstock option for textiles. However, it should be emphasized that conventional pulping and conversion processes may not be suitable for these alternative fibers without modification or adaptation. The work identifies emerging technology options that might be more suitable for these alternative raw material sources.

Media Contact

Huicong Cao
Journal of Bioresources and Bioproducts
Cell: 8259868744

Industry Intelligence editor's note: To read the original study at the Journal of Bioresources and Bioproducts, click here

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

We collect data, including through use of cookies and similar technology ("cookies") that enchance the online experience. By clicking "I agree", you agree to our cookies, agree to bound by our Terms of Use, and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. For more information on our data practices and how to exercise your privacy rights, please see our Privacy Policy.