Natural Fibres

About

Revitalising European value chains through Natural Fibres production

This project promotes sustainable and eco-friendly choices in the textile and clothing value chain by concentrating on the use of natural materials (cotton, silk, and wool).

Cotton fields in Greece

There are two main steps to the project:

  1. Testing and illustration of the advantages of rebuilding traceable European value-chains for those who produce and market these natural materials.
  2. Assist in the re-vitalization of those value-chains by renewing the way they operate.

The first phase builds on the fact that there is an existing market trend towards sustainable fibres that offers new business opportunities. Rebuilding or encouraging this market also means helping preserve know-how in the creation of these products, an often neglected European competitive advantage. In macro-economic terms, success should increase the share of the added-value of EU origins in the final products sold in Europe.

The second phase of revitalization can be achieved by identifying and promoting R&D results and technical innovations, transforming these raw materials using fewer resources (especially water and energy) and producing innovative and better-quality final products. These products will have a recognised market value for consumers, allowing a better remuneration of those involved in the production process.

This revitalisation will also be achieved through encouraging more direct connections amongst producers, as well as between them, their distributors and their final consumers. The intention is to create more personalised relationships and interactions that will contribute to a better understanding of market demands by producers and the enrichment of the consumers’ knowledge of the value and origin of the products they purchase.

Who’s involved

This project began with the name “Natural Cotton”. It took shape from the impulse of a TCBL associate enterprise involved in cotton ginning in Greece. It revealed the existence of cotton of EU origin to the TCBL community and promoted its quality. Next, a working group comprising associated TCBL enterprises mapped out all the steps of the value-chain using business software services available to TCBL members:

  • providing sustainable cotton seeds to cotton growers
  • assisting them in obtaining high quality (long fibres) cotton
  • certifying their production
  • ginning this cotton
  • spinning
  • knitting
  • designing and confectioning cotton clothes
  • selling them

This generated a number of collaborative proposals which were put to the working group. After careful consideration the group chose to work together to develop a collection of new products based on a fully traced production chain from the cotton grower to the final product with certified origin and quality of the cotton fibres used (Greek Certified Sustainable Extra-Long Fibres). This step has been implemented and this first collection was produced in June 2017.

This is the first time that the collaborating members of this business case have worked together and had direct contact with those involved in steps further than the immediate previous and next one. It's allowed us to identify new needs of knowledge sharing and new dynamics in working together. The first products of this cooperation have been produced and were on view at the TCBL #2017 Conference in Athens. The working group then extended the certification scheme, used in the initial stage for ginned cotton only, to cotton yarns or threads and assess how to deploy the results on a larger scale. It will continue its interactions on the Thela platform, where around 15 other TCBL associate members will be invited to join in and design additional experiments, the fruits of which will integrate products made from this certified, high-quality, sustainable cotton of EU origin in their production or their sales cycles. The specifications of these products will feed into the Sqetch platform in order to find other companies or individuals, currently outside TCBL, involved in the natural cotton value chain. In turn, they will have the opportunity to join and develop new intermediary or final products based on certified high quality and sustainable cotton of EU origin, coming from Greece and Spain.

In parallel, the first steps have been taken to begin a similar case to enhance the silk value chain, involving a collaboration between Italy, Greece and Slovenia. This will be developed through the cooperation of a Greek silk producer and a Slovenian artist and designer who wants to use the material to create a bespoke range of products. Plans exist also to develop similar actions to rebuild (GR) or consolidate (IT, UK) wool and hemp (RO) value chains in some of the countries involved in TCBL.

Goals and Objectives

Re-vitalization of natural fibres value-chains

Documentation

The following documentation is available for this project

Contact Person

Thanos Contargyris