Greetings from Finland: We Have a Vision for a Sustainable Future of Textiles  

The Finnish textile and fashion industry is a forerunner in sustainability. We have solutions that can renew the industry – globally. According to Ali Harlin, Research Professor at the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT and Kirsi Niinimäki, Associate Professor in Design at Aalto University, a revolution in textile production and use is underway.

 

The Finnish textile and clothing industry is boldly renewing the entire global scene and setting a new, sustainable direction. The Finnish model combines responsible primary production, strong design expertise, resource-efficient manufacturing, sustainable consumption, and recycling of materials.   

In 2023, Finland will implement the separate collection of discarded textiles, and by 2035 Finland will become carbon neutral. In between, many things will happen that will contribute to the sustainability of textiles and clothing and a reduced environmental burden. Changes are being made on many levels simultaneously.  

1) Consumers want to be informed and make good choices 

Consumers expect more functionality and transparency from products and their manufacturing process. They want to know more about the background, materials, production, quality, and sustainability of a product and make informed choices. As consumers require clear information on the sustainability and environmental actions of companies, environmental information related to a product must be easily accessible (e.g. the product’s carbon footprint).  

2) Brands’ business models are changing

Emerging business models focus on customising clothing, extending its life cycle, or intensifying product use. Clothing resales will be an important part of brands’ business in the future. Finnish brands excel in functional fashion and distinctive design. New design innovations will focus on recycled material recovery, more targeted production, and quality. Products will also be designed to be recyclable. In 2035, product durability will be verified by a quality guarantee and the manufacturer will be responsible for both the repair and the collection of the garment at the end of its lifetime.  

3) An industrial revolution is taking place

The textile and fashion industry is now at a turning point. Digitalisation will enable knowledge-based solutions in material manufacturing, product design, production, consumption, and material recycling. The goal is to establish a circular economy that saves resources and adds value.  

Source: VTT: Finland as a forerunner in sustainable and knowledge-based textile industry – Roadmap for 2035

What more do we need?  

The Finnish textile cluster is creating the world’s most sustainable and efficient textile recycling and production system.   

So what still needs to be done? Strong research and development, investment and cooperation across sectors and state borders. Regulation supports the revolution: changing legislation and the EU taxonomy are boosting the market for bio-based and recyclable raw materials and textiles. New ecological fibres, reuse and recycling solutions and digitalisation are driving a global reorganisation of production.  

Fashion is constantly changing. Now the industry has the potential to revolutionise.    

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