SUSTAINABILITY

Fortum – Making Fibre Sustainability A Reality

Invests in a commercial biorefinery in Assam to produce 62 million litres of bioethanol per annum

Known for its consistent efforts in bringing fibre sustainability around the world, Fortum is riding high on its Bio2X solution. Team Textile Magazine speaks to Faizur Rehman, Head – Bio2X Programme, Fortum India in an exclusive chat to understand the technology behind the bio-based solution and its extensive positive impact on fibre sustainability.

Faizur Rehman, Head – Bio2X Programme, Fortum India

Bio2X Programme, by Fortum, could well be the key to make fibre sustainability a constant in the global textile industry. As a well known European clean energy company, Fortum has made its mission to produce high value products from agricultural residues and woody biomass to replace fossil and non-renewable natural resources.

Fortum has been working towards 9 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the UN to wean the world away from unsustainable practices that are detrimental to the environment, community and life in general.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview with Faizur Rehman, Head – Bio2X Programme, Fortum India:

Bio-based Bio2X Solution

Fortum’s Bio2X is a bio-based solution which involves the process of transforming biomass and agricultural residues into textile fibres using fractionation technology.

The fractionation technologies make up the core of Bio2X. In this, biomass is separated into lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose. The fractions have more advantageous properties in further product manufacturing than those obtained from traditional pulp and biofuel processes. These fractions can be used to replace fossil-derived raw materials in many industrial and consumer sectors.

Fortum India has invested in a commercial biorefinery in Assam, India as a joint venture with Numaligarh Refinery Limited along with Chempolis for setting up a bamboo-based bio-refinery plant. The plant will use bamboo as raw material, and will produce bioethanol, biochemicals and electricity. This venture shall produce 62 million litres of bioethanol by using around 0.5 million MT bamboo per annum. This will be a game changer in terms of additional revenue generation for bamboo farmers through sustainable cultivation, extraction and transportation of bamboo.

Bouquet of Products

Sustainable production of textiles improves resource efficiencies significantly. Using cellulose fraction, our main focus is to produce regenerated cellulosic fibers. Bio2X involves novel processes which have been developed to improve environmental footprint by way of water and chemical usage and raw material sustainability in comparison with the currently used textile materials such as polyester, viscose and cotton. Our recent partnerships, for creating clothing made from agricultural waste, is in line with our objective of creating new businesses avenues that improve resource efficiency and provide smart solutions for a cleaner world.

Norm in the New Normal

The world currently is adjusting to the ‘new normal’ in which sustainability and material efficiency play a crucial role.

There is an immediate need to focus on creating long term sustainable goals that nurture growth. It is worth looking into a range of investments which can boost short-term incomes and employment.

More than ever before, textile industry must leverage technology to make its operations sustainable and environment-friendly. Circular textile production and use of eco-fibres have the potential to play a major role in reducing environmental and climatic pressures.

Bio2X Programme helps in dissolving pulp from agro-residues, which can further be processed to produce responsible fibres which can replace chemical intensive fibres such as synthetics and viscose and high-water consuming cotton.

Sustainability – The Indian Context

The Indian textile industry is one of the largest in the world with a large unmatched raw material base and manufacturing strength across the value chain. It is the 2nd largest manufacturer and exporter in the world, after China.

The fashion industry has some startling statistics on environmental degradation. For instance, it can take 2,700 litres of water to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. As per World Resources Institute, 5.9 trillion litres of water are used each year for fabric dyeing alone. Around 20% of industrial water pollution in the world comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles, and about 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textile.

The fashion industry across the globe is witnessing a shift in consumer behaviour from fast fashion to slow fashion and a preference towards sustainable clothing. Like many global brands and retailers, major Indian brands have also started to focus on material efficiency and sustainability. There are many Indian products that are made from bio-based and recycled fibres. Large textile manufacturers are adopting new technologies to reduce the consumption of chemicals and water and to improve LCA figures.

However, the momentum needs to gain a critical mass along with policy support from the Indian Government so that it can be sustained at commercial levels. Fortum has already partnered with many national and international companies to develop bio-based sustainable products and technologies.

Advantage Fortum

Fortum strives for balanced management of economic, social and environmental responsibility in our operations where we take into consideration climate and resource issues besides the impact on personnel and society. Fortum’s Bio2X program has been established for speeding up the company’s goals in bioeconomy, and especially biomass valorization.

Fortum can provide Indian textile companies with high quality sustainable products and technology to enable them to meet their sustainability goals.

Hope – Post-COVID

When the industry works towards normalcy and expands, the textile industry is definitely one that can provide a base on which to build capital for more technologically demanding industries. In fact, the textiles and apparel sector can be critical to the growth and development strategies of many developing countries. Sample this – the textiles and apparel industry in India is the 2nd largest employer offering direct employment to 45 million people and 60 million people in allied industries.

Textile and apparel exports constitute an important share of the total exports in many countries. India’s textile and apparel exports are expected to touch US $300 bn by 2024-25, resulting in tripling of the country’s market share globally from 5- 15 %, according to the national investment promotion and facilitation agency.

For textiles and apparel, collaboration with industry associations both within and across countries, as well as joint projects with universities, can strengthen knowledge exchange and drive innovation. Partnerships with brands and knitting houses or even weaving mills can also foster more vertical integration for companies. These collaborations can unlock higher value-addition within countries and provide a strong return on investment.

BLURB:

“The fractionation technologies make up the core of Bio2X.”

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