Natural textiles witness strong demand

The Philippines has been pursuing the development of natural textiles to meet strong consumer demand at home and abroad.

Celia Elumba, former director of the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), said natural textiles have revealed competitive advantages.

“You know the Philippines is not trade positive in many things but in vegetable fibers, we are trade positive and this has been shown through time over the decades and more countries have expressed an interest…,” she said during the ASEAN Access Week.

Elumba said major brands are paying attention to concerted consumer activity and demand on the use of natural textile materials.

She added natural textiles also have a captive and underserved market in the country.

Elumba cited a law in the Philippines prescribing the use of tropical fabrics for uniforms of public officials and employees.

Tropical fibers include those of abaca, banana and pineapple leaf and silk, she said.

“(There is) potential for 21 million meters of PTF (Philippine tropical fiber) to serve 1.8 million government employees,” she added.

Elumba said there is thus a strong demand for eco-friendly textiles both here and overseas.

“We have a robust community of designers and social enterprises. Materials developed by PTRI are used by social enterprises, designers–a combination of cotton with pineapple leaf, cotton with abaca and cotton with sugar bagasse,” she said.

Elumba said higher natural textile fiber is a “vote for planet earth”.

“Finally, why natural textiles? This is an alternative to micro plastics, it is a micro fiber solution that generates 9.5 million metric tons per year,” she added.

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