The sustainable evolution of natural materials
The Market - MU Sustainable Innovation

The 2020 edition of the “Preferred Fiber & Materials” Report published by Textile Exchange (TE), a non-profit organization that operates on a global scale in close collaboration with industry, takes stock of the evolution towards the sustainability of the materials used from the textile industry. Here is an extreme summary of some conclusions of the report, concerning materials of natural origin.



The report underlines that cotton grown according to programs that improve sustainability -TE defines them as “preferred cotton” as opposed to “conventional cotton” - has reached 25% of the total cotton market, making faster progress than most other materials. The key driver has been the existence of different and established programs. The programs listed by TE  under the label “preferred cotton” are, in alphabetical order: Brazilian Responsible Cotton program (ABRAPA), BASF e3, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cleaner Cotton, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Fairtrade, Fairtrade Organic, Field to Market, In-Conversion Cotton (Transitional in the US), ISCC, myBMP, Organic Cotton, REEL Cotton, Regenerative Cotton, and the United States Cotton Trust Protocol. Seventy-two brands of fashion groups, including Adidas, C&A, IKEA, H&M, Levi’s, Kering, Burberry, G-Star Raw, Eileen Fisher, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Timberland, have signed a commitment to significantly increase the cotton quota “to be preferred ”In their collections.



Conventional wool dominates the wool market, but the adoption of non-mulesing and more sustainability-conscious wool programs, such as the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), is on the rise. Attention to sustainability has extended to new areas thanks to breeding programs that provide not only animal welfare but also the definition of criteria for responsible use of the land and land use. This leap forward opens the way to the solution to the negative impacts of sheep farming on the environment and the potential risks to biodiversity conservation in some regions. The use of recycled wool is another crucial lever, a solution that has a long tradition, but which today represents a meager market share, but with significant development potential.


Down & Feathers

Two hundred seventy thousand tons of feathers for padding are produced every year, between 70% and 90% of them in China. Awareness about animal welfare issues in the feather supply chain has led to a growth in the use of cruelty -free standards. The most used are the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), created in 2014 and which now has over 6 thousand farms and over 1,000 certified transformation sites, the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS), and the Downpass, with over 6 thousand certified farms. In any case, the improvement of animal welfare on farms remains very problematic; the adoption of the standards, however, has led to significant advances in all the transformation stages of the supply chain.