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What does the future hold for the Portuguese textile and clothing industries? What new solutions are under testing to ensure further competitive gains in the future? What are we going to be wearing tomorrow?
These and other questions of greater or lesser complexity may be answered by Be@t, the sustainable bioeconomy project led by CITEVE – the Technology Centre of the Textile and Clothing Industries of Portugal. The name appears complex but this encapsulates a set of 54 entities, such as companies, universities or technology centres that are working together to transform the national textile industry. This work implies the development of new raw materials as alternatives to those of fossil origins as well as new manufacturing and processing technologies to foster the circularity and reutilisation of fibres and wastes. At the social level, there is also the objective of raising awareness in society of the need for change.
The Be@t project holds ambitious objectives in terms of bringing about change to the paradigm prevailing in this sector. Hence, establishing “a new pace of change and accelerating the creation of high-value products based on biological resources, as an alternative to fossil-based materials, however, without ever giving up on guaranteeing, and even raising, quality standards with a strong potential for differentiating among market segments”, defended CITEVE General Director, Braz Costa, on the institution’s website.
Be@t introduces companies to creatives to make the national textile industry more sustainable. The project aligns with the European product digital passport and draws on PRR funding. The project lasts three years and draws on the participation of ModaLisboa and Portugal Fashion, the organising entities of the national fashion weeks. Be@t spans two distinct phases, brain-storming and acceleration. Fashion, textile or product designers, textile engineers and as well as national micro-brands may submit applications and those selected will then take place in challenges set by the partner companies, Riopele and Tintex Textiles. The five winning projects advance to the following phase, Acceleration, in which participants joins an SME for five months during which the teams receive training, mentoring and personalised workshops intending to launch projects based on sustainability and circularity in accordance with ModaLisboa. With Portugal Fashion, the target audience are the designers on the Bloom platform and consists of enabling 10 to 12 of these young talents to integrate the criteria of circular design into their collection that they then showcase in a fashion show. This project also lasts for a five-month duration.
The name Be@t derives from the expression bioeconomy at textiles. The fashion industry undergoes constant evolution and the market increasingly demands changes and respect for the environment. This project represents a total investment of 138 million euros, of which 71 million euros in funding comes from the PRR – the Recovery and Resilience Plan and has a forecast duration of three years, terminating at the end of December 2025. The purpose is that over this timeframe, change reaches out to the “raw materials for design, research and production”. The objectives also involve complying with the environmental defence goals and develop strategies to gain new markets (nationally and internationally).
The digital product passport
Making the textile industry sustainable represents a concern at the international level and correspondingly on the agenda of the European Commission, given that the consumption of textiles represents the fourth largest impact on the environment and climate change, behind food production, housing and mobility. On 30 March 2022, the Commission presented a package of proposals under the auspices of the European Ecological Pact designed to “make sustainable products the rule in the European Union”, said the press release. This change makes the majority of physical goods on sale in the European market more environmentally friendly and energy efficient throughout the life cycle of the product through new rules.
The target set seeks all textile products on the market designed to last for the long term are as ecological as feasible, respecting social rights and the environment, by 2030. To this end, specific measures include eco-design requirements for textiles, clear information, a chain of producer responsibility throughout the European Union and Digital Product Passports (DPPs) that shall initially focus on three sectors: electronics, batteries and textiles. In the case of textile products, this passport includes information on the circularity of the products and alongside other environmentally relevant details. The economic actor that places the product on the market is responsible for issuing this information through a free access system, provided, for example, through the QR code.