With the declaration of 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a doubt is raised as to whether synthetic fiber has gained so much of significance in the recent years that a whole year has to be dedicated to natural fibers. This year will be dedicated for promotion of benefits of natural fibers as against the disadvantages of synthetic fibers. This also makes it necessary to do an analysis of synthetic fibers industry as to what is being done by it in order to contribute to world's sustainability and for reducing its carbon footprint.
Synthetic fabrics had been liked by masses due to their low cost, easy manageability and technical competence. However, with rising costs of energy, transportation, and raw materials and growing concern for environment, the challenge before this industry is that of making available eco-fabrics at competitive prices.
The synthetic fibers industry has already started changing its attitude by focusing on business with the aim of sustainable development. REACH, the regulation that will monitor the usage of chemicals, has already come into effect in the European Union which is being studied by other countries that are expected to follow suit. The artificial fibers manufacturers have increased the use of more renewable raw materials like cellulosic fibers. Some companies are already using polymers recycled from post-consumer waste, such as polyethylene terephthalate bottles. New researches are underway to explore new raw materials from quickly growing plants like sugar cane, grass and straw. Retailers too have started providing eco labels giving information about the eco friendly processes and materials used for making the final garments.
The Synthetic fibers industry is an indispensable part of textile industry and with growing demand for technical textiles and nonwovens as well as for managing demands for ever increasing global population, it will survive but with eco-friendly options.