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Shaping the Future of Sustainable Textiles: Highlights from ECOSYSTEX Conference

The ECOSYSTEX Conference, held in Barcelona, Spain on 19-20 October 2023, brought together researchers, industry leaders, and policymakers to bridge EU-funded textile research and sustainable textile practices. The event connected over 100 participants from 16 European countries.

ECOSYSTEX, launched in early 2023 and managed by Textile ETP, fosters a European Community of Practice, consisting of 26 projects with over 200 partner organisations and €100 million in combined funding.

The ECOSYSTEX conference highlighted several critical challenges in the textile sustainability sector. These include a lack of reliable and up-to-date data, making it difficult to adhere to high-quality data principles. Industry experts struggle to implement holistic sustainability solutions due to fragmented supply chains, regulatory ambiguity, and insufficient tools. Designers and product developers have limited knowledge of downstream impacts, and their incentives often don't align with sustainability goals. Regulators underestimate the complexities of their regulations, while consumers have not yet become significant drivers of sustainability in the industry. The conference stressed the need for research, technology development, standardisation, and more public funding to drive systemic transformation in the textile sector.

The conference also included plenary sessions where European institution representatives provided updates on regulatory developments concerning the EU Textile Strategy. They also discussed their ongoing research efforts, focusing on ecodesign and textile waste management concepts, and highlighted the availability of research and innovation funds specifically earmarked for the textile sector to bolster its transition towards sustainability.

Six of the 26 member projects within ECOSYSTEX co-organised the conference: CISUTAC, HereWear, IRISS, the New Cotton Project, RegioGreenTex and the TRICK project. Each of them hosted an interactive workshop session designed to validate their internal project work with external experts, gather insights and perspectives and collect input for shaping their future research and development endeavours.

While sustainable textiles present a substantial market opportunity and potential for optimising operations in the global textile industry, the conference emphasised that many essential building blocks are currently missing. ECOSYSTEX seeks to make its contribution by better networking European researchers and technical industry experts with deep subject matter knowledge and resources to deploy to collaboratively generate the data, insights, methods and tools needed.

ECOSYSTEX has four technical expert groups working on environmental impact assessment, textile recycling, ecodesign, and renewable material standards. In the meantime, ECOSYSTEX maintains a schedule of public webinars every two months as part of its ECOSYSTEX Insights Series, serving as a platform for member projects to share ongoing developments.

Following the successful conference, plans are in motion for a follow-up event in autumn 2024, involving member projects at a different European location.

All information to sign up to public webinars and other community news is available at and on ECOSYSTEX’s LinkedIn page.

Photos of the ECOSYSTEX Conference are available here.

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