The HEREWEAR sample collection scopes the field of bio-based materials and highlights the challenges and opportunities designers face when engaging with these materials. The 80+ samples in the collection show a range of materials and technologies associated with bio-based textiles and demonstrate innovation at different levels of readiness to market.
The field of bio-based materials is very broad, and some myths and misconceptions are quite common when it comes to sustainability. The HEREWEAR review led to drawing a lifecycle map for bio-based materials which can support design decision-making when working with local, circular, and bio-based materials. This Bio-based Material Lifecycle Map (BMLM) shows how key innovation that supports environmental impact reduction can take place in different parts of the supply chain. This is a start to a useful discussion involving designers and experts across disciplines to change fashion and textile systems.
This series of posts highlights some exciting materials from the HEREWEAR sample collection through the lens of the BMLM to show how different materials offer different opportunities and challenges when designing for local, circular, and bio-based fashion systems.
Eastman Naia™ Renew is a cellulose acetate fibre produced from 60% sustainably sourced wood*(1a) from North America and Brazil, and 40%** certified recycled waste material (1b). Currently, the primary waste feedstock used in the production of Naia™ Renew is post-consumer carpets, with the ability to process other hard-to-recycle mixed waste materials which don’t necessarily need to be textiles. For instance, the company has previously used waste packaging. The main requirement is that the waste should contain a certain percentage of polyester, which can then be broken down to create the acetic acid necessary for the production of cellulose acetate fibres. This innovation shows an exciting pathway to using waste in high-quality new materials. It also shows how lines can be blurred between the synthetic/bio-based divide in materials.
Traditionally, the acetic acid content of cellulose acetate fibre is derived from fossil-based feedstocks. Thanks to the Eastman’s material-to-material molecular recycling technology, this can be replaced by waste which is broken down into its molecular building blocks. These molecules are then used as a feedstock for the acetic acid used in the cellulose acetate production process, the acetic acid is combined with wood pulp to create cellulose acetate granules (2a), in which the acetate granules are dissolved in acetone to make the dope that is used to make fibres. The solvent-based process for producing the fibre is similar in some aspects to how man-made cellulose fibres are made. Here, the company operates in a closed-loop system where over 97% of solvents are recycled back into the system for reuse. Then the solution is filtered away in a dry spinning process which requires no water.
Eastman produces both filament yarn and staple fibres (4) which are then provided to yarn and textile manufacturers in their network. Textile construction and finishes are defined by the manufacturers depending on their market; however, Eastman has been experimenting with interesting properties such as the materials’ ability to be printed using sublimation (5), which is usually only possible on synthetic fibres, but shows some promising signs for the cellulose acetate as a way of applying colour in a low-water process.
The fibres are versatile and can be used in several types of applications, from lining material, which is a conventional use of cellulose acetate, all the way to loungewear, casual wear, and bedding material. When considering the use phase of the material, the company is exploring how to contribute to longevity through the properties of their staple fibres (6).
When it comes to end-of-life, the fibres have achieved a number of certifications for biodegradation, including the TÜV AUSTRIA “OK biodegradable” conformity marks for soil and freshwater environments (7a). In addition, Eastman received further scientific evidence, via a recent study conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, that Naia™ disintegrates and biodegrades in the ocean within months. The fact that the fibre is biodegradable is an interesting demonstration of the use of molecular recycling in transferring materials from the synthetic to the biological cycle in textiles. However, it must be noted that the biodegradability properties can only be certified at the fibre level. Processes applied by fabric or garment manufacturers such as dyes, finishes, or coatings could overrule these properties. In other recovery and recycling systems, and with the right technology brought to market, it would also be possible for the fibres to be chemically recycled in the Naia™ renewal process (7b).
Eastman Naia™ Renew is a fully commercially available fiber that shows how waste can be transformed into building blocks for new, bio-based materials. The recovery of waste can happen on a local scale to avoid impacts associated with travel, and it offers an exciting opportunity for circularity.
* FSC® and PEFC™ Chain of Custody certification, ensuring the traceability of raw materials through the supply chain back to the forest. In addition, all wood pulp suppliers carry internationally recognized certifications as well (link).
**Naia™ Renew recycled content is achieved by allocation of recycled waste material using an ISCC-certified mass balance process.
Contact Person & Email Address:
- Laetitia Forst (Email)
- Naia Eastman (Website)
- Naia Eastman – “Study Shows that Naia cellulosic fibers fully disintegrate” (Article)