The bio-based textiles segment still remains handicapped by uncompetitive prices, but it appears that after less than a century of market dominance by oil-based synthetic fibres, the textiles industry is returning to fibres made of biomass.

Many businesses in Europe have the ambition to introduce and use bio-based polymers in textile applications. Bio-based polymers (or, biopolymers) are increasingly commercially available and production capacity shows an impressive annual growth rate of almost 20 per cent worldwide.

However, taking into account the still marginal market position of biopolymers, the current growth rate is too little to ensure a swift transition to sustainable textile production and consumption. The price of bio-based textiles is mostly too high. Governments should develop policies to reduce the use of unsustainable fibres in favour of raw materials obtained from biomass, and preferably from waste.

Belgian research institute Centexbel, which organised the 3rd International Conference on Bio-based Textiles on October 16, invited some twenty researchers from several European countries to present the problems and results of their work.