The following is a glossary useful to the understanding of textile technologies, biotextile technologies in particular, as well as circular economy.
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Agricultural waste or residues

Agricultural waste occurs when the high value food or product is extracted from the crop and leaves a ‘residual’ product behind. For example, the wheat straw used in HEREWEAR can be described as ‘residual waste’ or ‘agricultural residue’ from the production of wheat for making flour. A large proportion of agricultural residues would normally be disposed of or incinerated, but can be processed further to make a cellulose pulp to spin textile fibres.

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Algae or seaweed come in multiple varieties. Algae is currently commercially grown and harvested for use in the cosmetics and supplements industry. Algal feedstock can be farmed off-land meaning that it doesn’t encroach on food production. Algae needs only sun and seawater to produce food and textile components so also doesn’t require fertiliser which can be environmentally damaging to produce and use.

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In the context of the biorefinery process, ash is defined as the minerals or inorganic fraction remaining after the useful fraction of the biomass has been extracted. Minerals can be present in the form of inorganic salts (sulphate, phosphate, chloride salts) and cations bound to organic anions (e.g. oxalates, uronic acids). These are known to lead to an apparent neutralisation of the acid catalyst applied in the fractionation process.

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Baseline materials

In HEREWEAR the term 'Baseline' is used to describe 'the materials we want to replace' with the novel bio-based textiles. These 'Baseline materials' are an important part of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as they provide a basis for understanding impacts, providing insights, and as a point of comparison for the materials and processes we are developing within the project.

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Bill of Material

A listing of all raw materials and components needed to create the desired end product.

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Bio-based / Partially Bio-based

According to the European standardisation committee CEN, he term bio-based is used for materials made from at least 50-70% carbon, that has been captured recently (i.e. not fossil—based carbon). The carbon-source can be either plant, animal or microorganism based (the biomass can have undergone physical, chemical or biological treatment). However, for various certified labels a minimum requirement is set for the amount of carbon the product is made of. (reference: EN16575) We can identify various stages or generations of the development of bio-based fibres, as shown in the following diagram, which also situates the work in HEREWEAR.

‘Partially biobased’ implies that the product also contains a fraction of a fossil-based carbon source. The term bio-based does not imply that the energy, fertilisers and processing steps used along the manufacturing were bio-based or CO2 neutral. 

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Biomass theoretic potential / Bio-economical potential

The ‘theoretical potential’ of a biomass resource describes the quantity of biomass there is available in total (such as wheat straw used in HEREWEAR for producing fibres).

The ‘bio-economic potential’ of the biomass is the theoretical potential of a biomass minus the biomass needed for existing markets (such as wheat straw for animal bedding).

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Biodegradable / Biodegradation

In a biodegradation, appropriately accredited textiles can be safely added to home or industrial compost so that they break down into nutrients under the action of micro-organisms. (Elsasser, 2016)

A very common misconception with bio-based materials, is that they are always biodegradable in any given context where that material may end-up (home compost bins, industrial composting facilities,  gardens, rivers, oceans, landfill sites). While being made from bio-based raw materials can, in some cases, contribute to biodegradability, many bio-based materials will not decompose in all contexts and the impact of decomposition on the environment is often unknown and could be damaging.

Biodegradation product certifications are based on lab tests which may not fully represent the real-world conditions where the product (textile / garment) ends up.

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A biorefinery is the infrastructure used for the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products, such as food, animal feed, materials, or chemicals, energy and fuel.

The biorefinery fractionation process can be best described using the prism metaphor.

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Biorefinery extractives / Pre-treatment processes

During the biorefinery process, biomass components such as fatty acids and waxes are commonly referred to as extractives. These components can interfere during fractionation and potentially contaminate the pulp and other product fractions, therefore ‘pre-treatment’ processes are used to remove these components prior to fractionation.

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Business Ecosystem

The concept of ‘Business Ecosystem’ explores the relationship between business entities and business models and how these interrelate to form business networks. In this context, a business, or service, ecosystem is defined as “a value co-creation configuration of people, technology, shared information, and value propositions connecting internal and external service systems” (Allee 2013).

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Cellulose is found naturally occurring in the walls of plant cells, helping plants and trees to stay upright. It is also a key component of cotton fibres, in which it is found in extremely pure form (Hugill, Ley and Rademan, 2020).  It can be found in many different types of feedstock, and fractionated so that it can be useful to the man-made cellulosic fibre making process.

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Chemical dissolution / Circular Dissolution process

Chemical dissolution is a process used to produce man-made cellulosic fibres. This type of treatment includes a range of chemical processes designed to break down and dissolve the cellulose or other type of useful compound present in the fractionated feedstock so that it can be spun into a yarn.

End-of-life textiles can also be dissolved with chemicals to extract the cellulose and recover it for a new solvent spinning process (Elsasser, 2016). Different types of dissolution can be applied to different inputs. With ionic liquid formulas, the cellulose in the end-of-life textile can be extracted from man-made cellulosic textiles as well as from cotton.

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Circular Design

To design a product consciously making decisions to eliminate waste and pollution.

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Circular Economy

Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a ‘circular economy’ aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles.

  1. Design out waste and pollution
  2. Keep products and materials in use
  3. Regenerate natural systems
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Circular Material System

A system where material loss from any part of the life cycle is minimised.

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The Circularity.ID Open Data Standard was developed by to label and identify digital product data for garments, to power circular practices.

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Closed Loop Production

A production process that re-uses the material waste created during production for additional products, as well as recycling and upcycling to create new products.

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Core-wrapped yarn / hybrid yarn

Core-wrapping is a yarn production process for combining the properties of two fibres with different properties. The core being at the centre of the yarn typically provides strength or high elasticity. The sheath or the yarn wrap is in contact with the wearer and therefore is chosen for comfort characteristics such as softness, flexibility, and porosity, whilst also protecting the core filament from external adverse effects.

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Crimp describes the waviness of the fibre. ‘Controlled crimp’ means that the waviness of the fibre can be increased or decreased through additional processing.

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Crop-derived biomass (1st gen feedstocks)

Several types of well-established bio-synthetic materials are made from crops such as corn, castor bean, or sugar cane. This means that the crop is grown specifically for the production of fibres (which is also true for cotton).

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Digital Twin

A Digital Twin is a virtual model of an object (e.g. product, process) in the real world. The purpose of the digital twin is to be able to make statements about the condition and behaviour of its real counterpart. For this two views can be distinguished: 

  1. To look into the real thing, in order to see and analyse, what is inside, how was it made, what is the structure, the materials etc; and
  2. To look to the outside, to the environment of the real thing, in order to see and learn how it interacts with external things and processes. 

Thus, a digital material or product twin can generate added value at various points in the product life cycle, through statements concerning the condition and behaviour of its real counterpart in the present but also in the future and past.

In product development, variants of the product can be developed, and their subsequent use behaviour can be simulated and evaluated. The saving of real samples here reduces development costs and duration. Costs and time can also be saved in production by testing and optimising the production process on the digital twin. 

A digital twin can be used in marketing and selling activities. In the use phase, a digital product twin allows monitoring of the stress on the real product through its use. After the end-of-use phase, the digital twin can be used to make more qualified statements about re-use and recycling.

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End of Life Trajectories

This describes the potential end-of-life treatment that will enable materials to be effectively recycled once they are sorted adequately.

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Feedstock / Feedstock flexibility

A feedstock is defined as the input to a process which transforms the feedstock into various products. This can be mined or grown specifically for this purpose, or it can be a waste stream from another industry. We differentiate between feedstocks in which the bio-based polymer is naturally available in fibre form, and those which need to be processed to make fibres artificially.

Feedstock flexibility refers to the ability of processing facilities to use different types of biomass as well as deal with compositional variations caused by seasonal and local differences.

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HEREWEAR Community

The ‘HEREWEAR Community’ is a group of stakeholders – researchers, businesses, policy makers, NGOs as well as individuals- who have expressed an interest in learning about and participating in the project’s activities. This may include learning about bio-based materials, experimenting new production processes, or testing new products on the market. By building the HEREWEAR Community, the project aims to lay the foundation for the uptake of bio-based fibres and textiles throughout the industry.

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Hybrid yarns

Hybrid yarns are engineered yarns in which various fibres/filaments are combined in one strand to create tailored properties meeting the performance requirements of the final product. In HEREWEAR, hybrid yarns consisting of bio-polyester and cellulose filaments are used to tailor the aesthetic and functional properties of our bio-based textile materials.

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Lifecycle extension

Strategies such as repair or upcycling can extend the product lifestyle beyond its first use, keeping the material in circulation for longer without having to break it down into a new feedstock.

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Lignocellulose is a complex structure of cellulose (glucose polymer), hemicellulose (polymer of mixed sugars) and lignin (complex aromatic polymer) that is found in cell walls of plants and provides the plant’s strength and fibrous properties.

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Mechanical recycling

In mechanical recycling, end-of-life textiles are shredded to recover fibres for a new spinning process. This shortens the length of the fibres ard means the addition of virgin fibres is often needed to strengthen the recycled yarn (Elsasser, 2016). Mechanical recycling can be a trajectory for both bio-based and petroleum-based materials. It is less successful with lower strength fibres, such as man-made cellulosic fibres.


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Melt spinning

In melt spinning, the polymer is melted and forced through a spinneret. Upon extrusion, air-cooling or waterbath-cooling is applied to the melt so that it solidifies into filaments. This process can be used for a range of thermoplastic materials, from fossil fuel sources as well as from bio-based feedstocks.

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Microfibre / Fibre fragmentation / Micro plastics

Technically, ‘microfibre’ simply describes the special design of fibers with a small diameter, used for example in mops and cleaning cloths. In this context, linear density is less than 1 decitex or a diameter less than 10µm. (Polyester microfibres typically have a diameter of < 10-5 m; this is a frequently referenced dimension, but not the formal definition of a microfibre which according to SI form would equal 1×10-6 m.) 

The term ‘fibre fragmentation’ is therefore more precise when referring to the issue of fibre pollution from textiles. This can be defined as a short piece of a textile fiber, typically less than 5 mm long, released from the main textile structure. These fragments, of either synthetic or of natural origin and with different diameters, can occur during, and be influenced by, all phases of the product life cycle. They are known to pollute the environment and are commonly regarded as a risk, although more research is needed to fully understand the impacts. The typical diameter range regarding polyester for textile clothing applications is 10 µm -40 µm. 

Finally, we should also mention ‘micro plastics’: plastic fragments in numerous geometrical forms (including fibre shaped) with a diameter of less than 5mm. Technically, however, there is currently no agreed legal definition of microplastics and work is on-going at the EU regulatory level. For further information on these issues, see the CIA brochure (

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Microfibre Shedding

Microfibre Shedding can be defined as a short piece of a textile fibre, typically less than 5 mm long, released from the main textile structure. These fragments, of either synthetic or of natural origin and with different diameters, can occur during, and be influenced by, all phases of the product life cycle. They are known to pollute the environment and are commonly regarded as a risk, although more research is needed to fully understand the impacts.

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Moisture regain

Ability of a textile fibre to absorb moisture from the environment. For example, moisture regain is higher for cotton, which shows hydrophilic properties ‘water-loving’, compared to polyester which is hydrophobic or ‘water-hating'.

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Polymer blend (fibres)

A polymer blend describes a process where at least two polymers are blended together to create a new material with different properties. In HEREWEAR polymer blends are used to produce bio-polyester filaments with tailored properties by melt spinning.

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Polymerisation describes when monomers derived from the feedstock (in the case of PLA, fermented starches or sugars) are combined with a catalyst to form thermoplastic polymers (Elsasser, 2016).

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Product construction / production / manufacture / confection

The process by which textiles are cut and sewn or otherwise assembled into garments.

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Sewing is a standard process, and maybe even the core process for making garments and textiles. And today sewing is typically done man-ually, and also the sewing machines are typically small and flexible (com-pared weaving machines, or to textile finishing machines) and re-quest limited investment. Thus, a small sewing factory could be considered a (part of a) microfactory, even if not (fully) digitised.

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Single Sign-On

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a facility that can connects different on-line services through a single user ID and password. Technically, you log into a separate server that stores your user ID, password, and 'keys' for the different services that have installed a specific access software. Once that server has verified your identity, it passes that information on to the other connected services when you try to access them. In addition, it allows the target services to also know that you have logged in through this facility and therefore belong to a specific user group. HEREWEAR is using the TCBL SSO facility to connect to other partner services, so they will 'know' you are part of the HEREWEAR Community.

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Yarn Spinning

The yarn spinning process can refer both to the way in which naturally occurring bio-based fibres are combined together to form a yarn, or it can refer to the way a chemical solution or pellets are treated and pushed through spinnerets to produce a continuous filament. This seems important to note when framing the field of bio-synthetic materials, as for these, the spinning process contains at least two major steps. The way in which the fibres are spun into yarns can have a large impact on the performance and look of the final textile. Some shortcomings from specific feedstocks or earlier processes can be compensated through the way in which the fibres are spun for instance.

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‘Stakeholders’ are individuals or organisations who hold a stake – i.e. they can have something to win or to lose – in the outcome of a process and at the same time they have a role in affecting the outcome. Stakeholders for an innovation process such as HEREWEAR can include public institutions (who define policies and regulations), universities and research institutes (who develop scientific innovations), the private sector (who produce and market new products), and concerned citizens and NGOs (who aim to ensure collective goals such as environmental sustainability).

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Staple fibre spinning

Staple fibre spinning can be done with natural fibres such as cotton or bast fibres, as well as with manufactured fibres which first come out of spinnerets as a continuous filament, but are then chopped up into smaller lengths. This process can make bio-synthetic yarns look more similar to their ‘natural’ counterpart by replicating the mat look created when multiple ends of fibres reach the surface of the material, as opposed to one or several smooth filaments.

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Starch / Sugars feedstock

Starch and sugar are the most widely used feedstocks for biosynthetic polymers, with starch used for 80% of bioplastics today. Glucose and sugars can be taken directly from sugar-based crops or fractionated from cellulose as most types of biomass can be broken down into their sugars.

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Supply Chain

A network of sequences and resources involved in the production and delivery of a product or service.

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Tech Pack

A document that clearly stipulates your design, materials and construction of your product.

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Textile construction

We consider three different types of textile construction: either woven, knitted, or non-woven. This reflects the focus of the HEREWEAR project on textiles for fashion. Textiles can be constructed from any type of yarn, whether the filaments have been chopped up and reassembled or if they are brought together as continuous multifilament yarns. Some yarn processing might therefore be involved as part of the initial textile construction phases as the way that the yarn is stretched or twisted might impact the way that it is woven or knitted.

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Textile waste

This can be in the form of pre- or post-consumer textile waste. The challenges relating to this feedstock are those that are usually associated to textile recycling such as issues with collection, sorting, and the scalability of the technology for recycling.

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Thermal recycling

Thermal recycling is an option for thermoplastic materials which can be melted down and reformed into pellets. These polymer pellets can then be spun in an extrusion process. Bio-based materials which are polymerised to become similar in molecular structure to conventional polyester or nylon, can be thermally recycled in the same way as their fossil-based counterparts.

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‘Upcycling’, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value. Designers have begun to use both industrial textile waste and existing clothing as the base material for creating new fashions. Upcycling has been known to use either pre-consumer or post-consumer waste or possibly a combination of the two. Pre-consumer waste is made while in the factory, such as fabric remnants left over from cutting out patterns. Post-consumer waste refers to the finished product when it’s no longer useful to the owner, such as donated clothes.

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Zero Waste Design

A product which is systemically designed to eliminate material waste during production.