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Committed to reducing textile waste and with a vision oriented towards preserving the planet, Riopele is exploring technological solution for transforming waste fruit into valuable raw materials, converting post-consumption textiles into new high quality products and adopting ancestral and renewable materials and driving change in the textile industry in the direction of sustainability. At the epicentre of these innovations is the company’s R&D department where over 100 professionals daily strive to implement experimental and creative processes and approaches.
Engaged in the mysteries and promises of ancestral fibres, Riopele is exploring biodegradable fibres such as hemp and nettles, unveiling secrets long since forgotten in the footnotes of history. “These fibres, which date back to the very origins of textile production, emerge as more sustainable alternatives in comparison to the traditional usage of cotton, which requires great quantities of water to grow and also requiring the intensive application of chemical fertilisers that cause damage to the surrounding environment as well as human health”, explained Ângela Teles, manager of product development and R&D projects at Riopele. Within this context, “Riopele is pushing ahead with the research and development necessary to enabling the reintroduction of these fibres to the modern textile industry, through the Lusitanos Project”, a consortium applying 15 million euros in investment with the objective of producing sustainable textile solutions based on natural and recycled fibres.
Riopele is also opening the way for a new generation of “tutti-frutti” fabrics, exploring “the production of fabrics from non-conventional fibres, such as from pineapples and banana leaves, and orange skin. These fibres are sourced through valuing the organic waste of the agri-foodstuffs industry, avoiding waste and fostering a more sustainable and regenerative system”, highlighted Ângela Teles. This innovative approach strengthens the company’s capacity to adopt circular economy models by alliances across different industries that thereby demonstrate the feasibility of balancing economic development with environmental responsibility.
With only 1% of post-consumer textiles getting recycled for the production of new clothes, Riopele is committed to overcoming the challenges associated with recycling, now working in partnerships with different fibre manufacturers and technology centres on the chemical recycling of modified cellulosic fibres. Riopele has also collaborated on projects involving the major brands in global fashion, including Infinna™ (Zara), Circulose® (GANNI) and OnceMore® (Filippa K), establishing strategic partnerships for the development of new and sustainable products that expand the boundaries of sustainable fashion and drive the adoption of recycled materials across this sector.
In a clear demonstration of its commitment to sustainability, we would recall that Riopele set the ambitious objective of going operationally carbon neutral and achieving a 100% rate of application of its waste textiles by 2027 while simultaneously ensuring that 80% of its products are aligned with categories and components of sustainability. These different initiatives reflect the determination of the company to accelerate the progress of the textile industry towards attaining responsible production.