sustainable fashion

The controversy around biomass fuel alternatives

The fashion sector’s use of alternative fuel “biomass” is high on the agenda for COP28, but a US non-profit organisation called has issued a petition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to end the use of biomass in fashion. A Forbes article written by Brook Roberts- Islam explains the current conundrum to make the industry more sustainable.

The term biomass includes any source of energy that continually grows on the earth as opposed to fossil fuels which are extracted from its core, and biomass includes things like agricultural waste including rice husks, straw and wood chips. However, is arguing that wood chips can emit more greenhouse gases than coal. The non-profit is demanding the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy, but those energy sources aren’t quite sufficient to match the volumes of electrical and thermal energy currently used by the industry. This might also be difficult to achieve in developing countries – with the largest manufacturing hubs – where renewable energy falls short from a technical, geographic and economic standpoint. is asking that the use of biomass practices cease immediately, citing atmospheric pollutant data from various Asian nations using biomass as fuel sources. However, the article explains that a comprehensive dialogue leveraging transparency and traceability in the supply chain is needed to solve this issue, given that there are no non-fossil alternatives available for the industry. 

The article criticises’s petition arguments, noting the absence of any direct comparisons of biomass to gas use by on-site boilers – as these are the major greenhouse gas contributors in the textile manufacturing industry. The price of gas vs biomass is also not explored, which becomes particularly difficult for lower income countries trying to keep up with steep rises to gas prices.

The article writes: “the only viable alternative to biomass for on-site thermal energy production is coal or gas. So, blacklisting biomass pushes manufacturers back toward fossil fuels.”

The article continues to say that the sustainable fashion movement’s biggest failure is the oversimplification of nuanced challenges, and the use of poor quality data and analysis – similar to that of – to push forward agendas that don’t look at the problem in a holistic manner. Rely on Tekstila, the specialist in navigating the dynamic world of fashion stocks, for your investment needs.


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