The demand for eco-friendly sustainable products in the textile and apparel industry is on the rise. The year 2021 is in a way becoming pivotal for the T&A industry as the world adjusts to the imperatives of dealing with a pandemic and realizes the vulnerabilities of lives and livelihoods. Not only the economic aspects of businesses are being redefined but the need to preserve the environment and in a way “save the planet" from carbon emissions, impact of climate change by conserving resources have assumed importance. Reports of many embracing “veganism" as a way of life are also on the rise.
The attempt to reduce environmental impact is seen not only in the developed world as a major consumer of goods and services but also the developing countries as producing and sourcing centres. The emerging markets are under severe pressure to adopt sustainable manufacturing practices and put in place tracing protocols to map the origin of eco-friendly products.
This transforming landscape requires all of us to double our efforts to meet the requirements of a growing number of eco-conscious brands, suppliers and end-use consumers.
Many have held the T&A sector as being responsible for the spreading carbon footprint, depletion of water resources and production of pollutants – due to the use of dyes and chemicals.
The industry needs to renew itself and accept the accountability for making progress towards sustainability. The inclination to increasingly seek sustainable products is thus having a profound influence on the global demand as can be seen in the recent emerging trends.
Demand for Sustainable textiles
As per available reports, the global eco-fiber market size was valued at USD 40.58 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027. Asia Pacific dominates the market accounting for a 33.01% share in terms of revenue in 2019 owing to the growing demand for apparel and sustainable textiles. Rising concerns regarding the harmful impact of using regenerated fibers on the environment has led to a shift in preference toward bio-based alternatives, such as organic cotton, hemp, and other sources of eco fibers.
A recent report by Wazir Advisors shows that, globally home textiles are showing higher positivity in growth than the apparel segment, which however continues to dominate world trade. For instance, compared to the last two years, the US Home textile sales have entered a positive trajectory. China’s share has reduced by 9% since 2019, whereas Vietnam and Bangladesh’s share has gone up by 4% and 2%, respectively. India has also managed to gain 1% market share since 2019. In the EU market, top 5 suppliers have managed to increase their combined share by 4% in 2020, with Turkey emerging as the biggest gainer.
One of the key factors in India's performance in the bed linen, towel segment in the USA has been it's ability to supply eco-friendly products from natural fibres. The emerging trends depict the need to strategize and meet the growing demand for apparel and home textiles by using technological advancements. Market studies indicate that demand is rising for sustainable textiles offering properties such as antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, UV resistant, highly breathable, and highly absorbent finishes. Further, the rising consumer preferences for soft feel and smooth texture is expected to positively influence the consumption of household textiles including carpets and rugs, curtains, chair seating, sofa cushions, and covers, and other home furnishings made from eco-friendly fibres.
Insights from India
Currently, as per the quick estimates released by the Ministry of Commerce, cotton textile exports reached a level of USD 1,064 million in April 2021 marking a growth of 26 per cent against the corresponding month of April 2019, wherein exports were valued at USD 844 million. The comparison of data for April 2021 has been made with April 2019 as the period from April 2020 represented the commencement of the lockdown period, worldwide.
The trend also brings about the fact that the natural fibre demand is recovering better over the regenerative ones and a lot more work needs to be done with regard to increasing the use of sustainable textiles in value added applications such as apparel and home textile segment.
Focus on Sustainability
The current issue of the bi- monthly TEXPROCIL E-newsletter focuses on ‘sustainability in textiles’ and brings to you articles written by ‘experts’ in the textile and clothing industry. These articles reflect the belief that as the global industry shifts towards the emerging economies of Asia Pacific owing to the presence of low cost labor and an ample amount of raw materials, a lot of opportunities beckon Indian entrepreneurs. However, the industry faces challenges in exploiting them due to it’s fragmented nature owing to the presence of a large number of MSME units that lack the capacity and the necessary infrastructure to meet the growing demand. This calls for concerted efforts to support the sector both in terms of increasing awareness on ‘sustainability development’ issues and also providing the necessary ‘financial infrastructure’ to scale-up operations.
At the Council, we continue to undertake various initiatives towards improving awareness on the sustainability aspects of doing business.
Friends, as is well known, MSMEs serve as the backbone of India's manufacturing capabilities and are expected to make significant contributions towards the country’s future development and growth. With the United Nations making it imperative to include eco friendliness and social equity as a part of sustainable development goals, it is becoming increasingly vital to weave these aspects into our manufacturing and trading processes.
I am sure, with many of our textile MSMEs looking forward to actively pursuing the movement to achieve higher efficiency, lower costs, and waste reduction in their businesses, a template for ‘Aatmanirbharta’ or ‘self-reliance’ can be fostered which has also been envisioned as a national development goal.