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Innovations: Biomaterials

'Bio' is not always 'bio'

Biomaterial innovations are in great demand – but the confusion about what the term means is bigger still. The report Understanding ‘Bio’ Material Innovations produced by Fashion for Good and Biofabricate aims to answer the industry's most pressing questions.

December 2020

'Bio': three extremely important letters about life and nature. Today, the word 'bio' is used so excessively, no one is quite sure what it means. It is also causing confusion in the textile industry: What exactly are biomaterials? What are the differences between biofabricated, biosynthetic and biobased materials? And are they all sustainable? Not only consumers, but also fashion brands and even some material innovators have reached their limits. Definitions, models and process diagrams: in their December 2020 report Understanding ‘Bio’ Material Innovations, the global initiative Fashion for Good and the Biofabricate team present key steps for a more environmentally friendly production of materials.

Biofabricate's vision is "A sustainable material world. Built with biology, not oil." But how can the industry realise this ambition? The key learning for brands and the report's innovators is that strong partnerships form the foundation for success. They can support the development of products that genuinely meet the industry's needs and standards. But this requires patience and stamina above all else. At present, the demand for new biomaterial innovations hugely exceeds the supply, especially in the newer sector of biofabricated materials. Here, the authors urge caution as regards the market readiness of innovation and technologies, which must be communicated realistically so as not to raise false hopes. They conclude: "The environmental problems of the fashion industry were not created overnight, and the solutions won't be either. Only by having honest and transparent partnerships can we accelerate change."

Exciting insights into the latest developments in textile production will also be showcased at the upcoming edition of the trade show duo Techtextil and Texprocess, taking place from 4–7 May 2021 in Frankfurt am Main.

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Find out more here:

Biofabricate and Fashion for Good, UNDERSTANDING ‘BIO’ MATERIAL INNOVATIONS: a primer for the fashion industry, December 2020

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