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[Circular Economy] Taiwan functional fabrics: an eco-friendly fashion choice
Kind: Event topics  Organization: Department of International Cooperation  Publish Date: 2020-05-18 11:19
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The traditional textile industry is the second most polluting sector in the world, behind only the petrochemical industry. It produces about 20 percent of the world’s industrial wastewater, 10 percent of carbon emissions, and roughly 20 percent of waste globally. About 95 percent of waste clothing can be recycled or reused, but only about 1 percent actually is each year. Faced with the growing threat of global warming and climate change, people in the sector have in recent times begun to think about and develop ways of using multiple materials to develop environmentally friendly textiles, extending the life cycle of raw materials, and utilizing recycling technology on a commercial scale to promote sustainability.

Taiwan’s textile industry was once a leading foreign exchange earner for the country. Exports peaked in the 1980s, declining thereafter due to increased costs and consequently a decline in relative competitiveness and industry migration abroad. In recent years, environmental awareness has risen in the sector in Taiwan, with enterprises now required to obtain an environmental label in order to be a qualified supplier. This has made constant innovation imperative to survival. It is in this context that a wide range of functional fabrics have been developed in Taiwan, including those made from waste products such as coffee grounds and glass from used bottles, and with special features such as super durability, cooling and warming properties, and lightweight and antibacterial characteristics.

For instance, Singtex has perfected a process for turning coffee grounds along with plastic bottles into S. Café yarn, Tainan Textile has developed Umorfil Beauty Fiber made from Tilapia fish scales, and Formosa Taffeta Co. has produced fabrics using discarded fishing nets, while Shinkong Synthetic Fibers Co. has engaged in collaboration with NGOs to recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles in Haiti for use in making environmentally-friendly yarns. In addition, Far East New Century also recycles plastic bottles into eco-friendly yarn. Taiwan’s advances have been featured prominently on the global stage. At the 2018 World Cup of soccer, the uniforms of half of the 32 competing national clubs were made in Taiwan using eco-friendly fabrics. In addition, Taiwan functional fabrics now have an impressive global market share of about 70 percent.

These examples illustrate the Taiwan textile sector’s successful experience in utilizing waste materials to develop new materials, leveraging its strong innovative R&D capabilities to maximize resource efficiency throughout the production process and therefore contribute significantly to a more sustainable and cleaner future for everyone.
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Update: 2020-04-17
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