With a sales increase of 7 % in this period, nonwovens are benefiting from the sharp rise in demand for nonwovens for mask production, on the one hand for normal mouth-nose protection and on the other hand meltblown nonwovens for particle-filtering FFP2 and FFP3 protective masks.
In addition to declining sales, the availability and price development of individual raw materials are causing companies problems. The in some cases extremely high freight rates are driving prices up. The increases observed for polypropylene in recent months are attributable to the extreme demand situation for mask production. Alternative production processes are also fueling demand for polyethylene and polyester. Problems also exist in the procurement of yarns and fibers from the Far East and dyes.
The cancellation of the Frankfurt trade fairs Techtextil, Texprocess and Heimtextil is hitting the German and European textile industry hard. Many had hoped that the trade fairs would bring new momentum to the textile industry, which has been badly hit by the corona pandemic. Now an important platform for companies to meet their customers and present innovations is missing. The digital trade shows held around the world are not an equivalent substitute for this.
Nevertheless, in addition to the acute crisis management, the long-term view of climate protection and strategic competitive opportunities for innovative technologies must not be lost, because the corona pandemic will certainly not change this. On the contrary – the crisis is increasing companies' efforts to develop new business models and new products. Close contact with the main customer industries for technical textiles, such as automotive, mechanical engineering, medical and environmental technology, helps here. Many companies are currently working on new technical approaches to effectively combat the spread of viruses and bacteria, among other things. The market for filtration applications will continue to grow.
With the “European Green Deal”, the new European Commission has placed climate protection, ecology and sustainability at the center of its political agenda. With this ambitious plan, the EU aims to become a global pioneer in the fight for climate neutrality by 2050. The European economy is facing a major transformation. Rising energy costs, shorter development cycles and new customer and legal requirements focused in particular on sustainability, are presenting textile manufacturers with major challenges, but they are also opening up new opportunities for the European textile industry. Textile expertise and textile solutions can make a significant contribution to making the world more sustainable. Technical textiles can also make an important contribution. One example of this is textile construction, which is characterized by a particularly high ecological and economic savings potential. Many research projects are now focusing on textiles made from renewable raw materials. The goal of replacing plastics for textiles with bio-based substrates in the future is a major challenge in terms of sustainability. There are promising approaches to establish renewable raw materials in the textile industry. One example is carbon fibers made from the wood raw material lignin, which is a waste product in the paper and pulp industry.
To ensure that these ideas from research and companies also find their way into the market, the 4th meeting of the European Technical Textiles Working Group will focus on this topic. The title of the digital event is “Bio-based fibers and recycled materials for technical textiles”. This will take place on March 11-12, 2021. The virtual conference is organized by IVGT and supported by Forschungskuratorium Textil e.V. as well as the members of the European Technology Platform for Fibers, Textiles and Clothing and the associations Clubtex (France), Context (Europe), EU-Textiles2030 (Europe), Fedustria (Belgium), Sistema Moda Italia and TexClubTec (Italy).
On the road to climate neutrality in 2050, European industry has the potential to develop technologies with global market opportunities and to apply them internationally – if it is globally competitive. European legislation has a major influence on this.Companies are concerned about the ongoing EChA REACh restriction procedure on fluorochemicals, the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability with more than 50 planned measures, and the plans with regard to an EU Supply Chain Directive. Companies need workable framework conditions. Policy makers must create fair guidelines for this.