Global fibre production has doubled in the last 20 years, reaching an all-time high of 107 million metric tonnes in 2018 and is expected to grow to 145 million metric tonnes by 2030 if business continues as usual, according to the Preferred Fibre and Materials Market Report 2019 released recently by global non-profit organisation Textile Exchange.
Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fibre and Materials Market Report (PFMR) measures the production of fibre and materials with improved social and environmental impacts – known as Preferred. This in-depth report focuses on the industry’s supply side, analysing production volumes, availability and emerging fibre trends.
Included in this production increase from the 2018 reporting year are more responsible – or preferred –options for almost all fibre categories, however the volumes are still quite low in comparison to the conventional counterparts.
The report focuses on data in various fibre categories, including plant-based natural fibres, animal-based fibres and materials, man-made cellulosic fibres, synthetic fibres, and also takes a look at sustainability standards, initiatives and trends, according to a press release from the Texas-headquartered non-profit.
In the plant-based natural fibres category, cotton is the most used fibre. Preferred cotton (the adjective ‘preferred’ means the product is ecologically and socially progressive) had a market share of 22 per cent of the total global cotton production and was grown in 30 countries in the 2018 reporting year. With the United States Farm Bill, 2018 was also an important year for hemp.
Due to concerns about the treatment of animals for textile and apparel use, animal welfare standards and initiatives are in place to define responsible practices and provide assurance that specific criteria are being delivered on in the animal-based fibres and materials category.
Wool is the most used animal-based fibre, with more than a million metric tonnes (MT) produced globally. Preferred wool is estimated to be below 3 per cent of the global market share. Preferred wool is identified by key standards and initiatives, including Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). The RWS was launched in 2016 and covered sheep on 278 farms in six countries during 2018.
Last year was also significant for mohair as Textile Exchange began the development of a Responsible Mohair Standard (RMS) that will sit alongside the RWS and provide assurance that mohair comes from farms with high animal welfare and progressive land management practices.
Textile Exchange is also continuing its work on the Responsible Leather Round Table and a newly assembled Responsible Cashmere Round Table, the press release said.
The man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCF) category is increasing steadily with a market share of nearly 6.2 per cent of the total fibre production volume, which is double the 1990 figures and is expected to continue growing. MMCFs include viscose, acetate, lyocell, modal, and cupro.
In the synthetic fibre category for 2018, polyester had a market share of around 52 per cent of the global fibre production, making it the most widely used fibre worldwide.
The continued growth of global fibre production will have significant impacts on people and planet.