Platform for a sustainable textile industry

Young woman in front of a clothes rack

Clothing, shoes, furniture - the consumption of textiles is continuously increasing in the EU. In a new project, researchers are working to overcome the obstacles to a sustainable and environmentally friendly textile industry.

05/25/2023 · News · DWI - Leibniz-Institut für Interaktive Materialien · Mathematik, Natur- und Ingenieurwissenschaften · Projekte

Clothing, shoes, furniture - the consumption of textiles is continuously increasing in the European Union (EU). This is associated with impacts on the climate, water and energy consumption, and the environment. Under the leadership of the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences (HSNR, Krefeld), the project partners HSNR, DWI - Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials (DWI, Aachen) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT (Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Oberhausen) are launching a cooperation platform starting in May 2023: With the "KlarTEXt" project, they are working to overcome the obstacles to a sustainable and environmentally friendly textile industry. The project is being funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MKW NRW) with around two million euros over four years. Andrij Pich and Ulrich Schwaneberg are contributing their respective expertise on behalf of the DWI.

According to a Commission Communication to the European Parliament*, 2 to 10 percent of the EU's environmental impact is based on clothing consumption. This makes the increasing consumption of textiles over the entire life cycle of products the fourth largest source of negative environmental and climate change impacts in the European Union on average. With its strategy for sustainable and recyclable textiles, the EU is therefore initiating the transformation of the textile industry: The aim is, on the one hand, to improve the use and disposal of textile products and to minimize the discharge of fibrous microplastics.

This necessary transformation poses major challenges for the 1,400 German companies in the sector, most of which are SMEs. For eco-design requirements alone (for example, resource efficiency or recycling), there are as yet neither specifications nor convincing solutions. Many of the companies need strong partnerships for this.

Exchange of expertise

This is exactly where the cooperation platform "KlarTEXt" comes in: Material, function, circularity as well as resource efficiency are ubiquitous topics in science and industry with great development potential for society. The MKW finances the development and foundation of the platform, which will at the same time bundle the innovation needs of society and companies as well as transfer them into scientific activities and teaching formats. With the help of the cooperation platform, the cooperating researchers would like to identify obstacles to a sustainable textile industry, define measures for overcoming them and work on the adjusting screws for a socially and ecologically sustainable textile industry.

"KlarTEXt " aims to transfer the joint research fields of textile materials, functions, circularity as well as resource efficiency for increased innovative power in companies. Furthermore, the research topics are to be shared with society in an understandable language. Through this economic and social participation, future innovations from the fields of biopolymers and biotechnology, among others, will be given relevance for the textile industry.

Cooperation platform of great interest

Supporters from the very beginning and further cooperation partners are the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy (WI), the Nova Institute, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Cluster of Industrial Biotechnology (CLIB) and C&A's FIT GmbH. Numerous other companies from the textile sector have already expressed interest in collaborating. With the help of the digital networking platform and the various interactive event offerings and formats, the project partners want to create conditions for shaping the future of a sustainable textile industry. This applies to representatives from industry and academia as well as people from the general population. "With 'KlarTEXt' we want to close the gap between science, industry and society with a focus on the textile and apparel industry. Participatory formats will enable exchange between citizens* and companies on the research fields and societal issues related to important topics in the textile industry, such as technical innovations, reparability, ecological materials, fast and fair fashion," explains Professor Maike Rabe. Citizens can look forward to great offers on textile sustainability at the OecherLab (Aachen), the planned Children's University (Mönchengladbach), the Supermarket of Ideas (Oberhausen) and the Decentralized BioLab (Dortmund), among others.

Further information and contact

Press release - DWI - Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials