First cellulose fibers conference delves into textile-related future

Demand for cellulose fibers is driven by demand for natural fibers, microplastics issue

Cologne, Germany – More than 200 participants representing 26 countries took part in the 1st International Conference on Cellulose Fibers here, celebrating continued growth within the textiles market.

Cellulose fibers, which are the fastest-growing group within the textile industry, now account for 6% of the world market. The conference covered the entire value chain, from feedstocks through finished products, including cellulose fibers such as rayon, viscose, modal and lyocell and its woven and non-woven applications.

nova-institute, a private and independent research institute that organized the conference, said high growth rates for cellulose fibers are driven by the demand for natural fibers, the microplastics problem and the possible bans of plastic fibers. The focus of the conference was on markets, technologies and sustainability, along with alternative cellulose feedstocks.

“There are many exciting developments going on, like textile recycling and new technologies and applications,” said Josef Innerlohinger, head of global R&D at Lenzing, “and there is a growing demand for sustainable fibers made from renewable materials. So, I see a huge potential for cellulose fibers in various fields. But there are also some potential obstacles, which may hinder developments, where a strong cooperation is needed to overcome these topics.”

Sustainability was a major topic, with cellulose fibers’ lower environmental impact vs. petrochemical fibers or cotton highlighted. But Nicole Rycroft of Canopy pointed out the importance of wood for cellulose fibers coming from certified sustainable forestry, as well as alternative feedstock sources. Presentations noted that high-quality cellulose fibers are coming from recycled materials, cotton waste, agricultural by-products and even used toilet paper.

Innerlohinger called this first edition of the conference “really successful…and I hope that many more will follow. The talks and accompanying discussions covered a wide area of topics related to cellulose fibers at a very high level.”

The conference was sponsored by Bozzetto, Lenzing and Sateri as gold sponsors, with additional sponsorship from LEVACO Chemicals, NC Partnering and Stora Enso.

A second edition is planned for Feb. 2-3, 2021 in Cologne.

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