H&M Group is the latest to link arms with the startup producer whose “breakthrough technology” makes sustainable, circular and biodegradable textile fibers out of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood or waste. The news marks a momentous week for the Swedish fast-fashion behemoth, which also invested in TreetoTextile’s vision to produce alternative cellulosic fibers in a new pilot plant and confirmed to Sourcing Journal its continuing work with We Are Spindye’s clean, traceable dyeing methods.
Mattias Bodin, circular innovation lab lead at H&M, said the company is always on the lookout for innovative materials that can transform its product lines and further its stated sustainability goals, which include using only recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030. Spinnova, he said during a press event Thursday morning, has “great potential to address several of the sustainability challenges we are facing today.”
“The work with Spinnova has been really about testing and prototyping their fiber into different applications that we’re using in our assortment,” Bodin said, adding, “we’re looking forward to take this collaboration to the next level.”
That “next level” will be achieved in large part through a new commercial-scale factory that Spinnova is building in collaboration with Suzano, a Brazilian producer of eucalyptus pulp. “Suzano uses only planted trees in its production processes,” Fernando Bertolucci, chief technology and innovation officer at Suzano, said in a statement. “This renewable raw material is being combined with Spinnova’s technology for producing fibers that are more sustainable than the options currently available in the textile industry, which is aligned with the demands of contemporary society.”
Spinnova’s processes, he said, employ no hazardous chemicals, consume 99 percent less water relative to the cotton value chain, and can leverage bountiful inputs like “agricultural waste such wheat or barley straw.”
Production at the new facility, springing to life through the two companies’ 22 million euro ($27 million) investment, will make Spinnova fibers globally available for textile brands in 2022. The industrial-scale plant will be built in Jyväskylä, Finland, where Spinnova’s R&D hub and pilot facility is located. A new joint venture firm evenly owned by Spinnova and Suzano will co-manage and co-operate production at the plant. Total investment costs, including infrastructure like real estate, are estimated at 50 million euros ($61 million). Real estate development company Jykia is building and renting the facilities for the joint venture.
Though Bodin declined to share what kinds of H&M garments Spinnova fiber could end up in, he’s optimistic that the Finnish firm’s innovation could wean the textile industry from its dependence on “less sustainable materials.”
“It’s really important also to set up these kind of partnerships and collaborations between the entrepreneur end user…brand like us, and also the supply chain,” Bodin said. “So, all these parts really can come together and try to reduce the hurdles for new technologies to reach to market.”