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Traceability: cotton or polyester? _ article 7.08.2022

Traçabilité: coton ou polyester? _ article 7.08.2022

Among the main fibers used in fashion, cotton is the most traceable, doubling the results of polyester. According to data from the Textile Exchange, 61% of this raw material could be traced back to its origin.

Where do the fibers come from? Transparency remains one of the sector's main sticking points in terms of sustainability due to the difficulty of tracing the origin of many raw materials. Indeed, in 2020 only 48% of the materials used in the fashion industry had a known origin.

The evolution of transparency in the materials used in the fashion industry has progressed very slowly in recent years. In 2018, only 47% of materials had a known origin, while in 2019 that percentage dropped to 46%, according to the Textile Exchange Material Change Insights Report 2021.

Among the main fibers used in fashion, cotton is the most traced. According to Textile Exchange, 61% of this raw material, whose origin is now more in question after the Xinjiang controversy, could be traced back to its origin.

India is the source of 23% of the cotton used in the sector, followed by China, which accounts for 13%. In the United States, for its part, 8% of the cotton used in the sector in 2020 was grown, while an additional 7% and 5% came from Turkey and Pakistan respectively.

Polyester, on the other hand, is less transparent than cotton. According to Textile Exchange, only 30% of this raw material used in the sector in 2020 had a known origin. The organization explains that this quota is low because "defining the country of origin or the oil well of virgin polyester is a challenge".

The top five countries of origin for polyester in 2020 are China, which accounts for 13%. Turkey, 7% of the traceable polyester origin quota. Another 2% of polyester comes from the United States, while another 1% from Indonesia.

Polyamide, on the other hand, has even less share of traceability, with only 19% whose origin can be traced. Such as polyester, "it is impossible to define the country of origin" down to the base. The main producing countries are China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Colombia.

Cellulose fibers, on the other hand, are easier to trace, according to Textile Exchange, because there are now many more standards and certifications. In 2020, 42% of cellulosic fibers had a known origin, with the majority coming from China, India, Indonesia and Australia.

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