Textile production in Taiwan sees boost in recycled plastic


ECO-FRIENDlY: Taiwan’s textile manufacturers are following brands such as Nike and Adidas to use more sustainable and recycled materials for their products

Far Eastern New Century Corp chairman Douglas Hsu, center, stands with the company’s sports jerseys and functional fabrics at the Taipei Innovative Textile Application Show in Taipei on Oct. 12.
Photo: Huang Hao-chen, Taipei Times

More Taiwanese textile manufacturers are joining the trend to develop recycled products as the EU pushes the implementation of its “Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles” in 2024, and the global textile sector targets a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

Several local firms, which displayed environmentally friendly products at the Taipei Innovative Textile Application Show earlier this month, have followed in the footsteps of other global brands to incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance principles into their business operations in response to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The companies include Far Eastern New Century Corp (FENC, 遠東新世紀), Shinkong Synthetic Fibers Corp (新光合成纖維), Lealea Enterprise Co (力麗), Zig Sheng Industrial Co (集盛實業) and Formosa Taffeta Co (福懋興業), according to the trade show’s organizer, the Taiwan Textile Federation.

Yuanta Securities Investment and Consulting Co (元大投顧) said in a note on Thursday that recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) demand has been increasing, with prices rising three times higher than those of virgin materials, as global brands such as Nike Inc and Adidas AG have pledged to use sustainable and recycled materials for their products.

R-PET is made mainly from plastic bottles, which are then made into a resin to be used in the production of textiles. The world’s three largest R-PET suppliers are Thailand-based Indorama Ventures Holdings LP, Taiwan’s Far Eastern New Century and Mexico-listed Alpek SAB de CV, Yuanta said.

To meet strong demand, Indorama plans to expand its R-PET capacity by 94 percent to 750,000 tonnes by 2025, from 387,000 tonnes, while Far Eastern is looking to increase its capacity by 169 percent to 870,000 tonnes from 324,000 tonnes over the same period, while also launching a plastic bottle recycling project with convenience stores in Japan and Taiwan, Yuanta said.

“FENC has focused on research and development for eco-friendly materials for years. It supplies multiple PET, textile and apparel products for international brands,” Yuanta analysts led by Lisa Chen (陳玫芬) said in the note.

The Taipei-based company has been supplying R-PET for Nike’s sports jerseys for national teams for more than 10 years.

FENC also used plastic bottles retrieved from the sea to produce sports shoes for Adidas in 2015, and is to extend the collaboration to sportswear this year.

The two companies are working to provide tear-resistant sports jerseys for nine national teams at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Doha, Qatar, as the shirts are moisture-wicking and suitable for sports involving collision, Yuanta said.

Supplying Lululemon Athletica Inc and Inditex SA’s Zara brand, FENC used recycled polyester chips in their products this year, which would also be adopted for their products to be launched next year, it said.

Shinkong Synthetic, Lealea and Zig Sheng purchase PET bottle flakes to make R-PET, which is used to manufacture recycled polyester fiber.

Formosa Taffeta purchases recycled polyester fiber to make fabric, with R-PET accounting for 50 percent of its total PET shipments, while used fishing nets and oyster ropes make up 20 percent of its total nylon shipments, Yuanta said.

“Taiwanese suppliers should continue to benefit from the eco-friendly approach of apparel brands like Nike, Adidas and Lululemon,” Yuanta analysts said.