Reflections on Spinnova’s role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions


Zero Emissions Day is an event organized annually on September 21st. Originating from Canada (2008), the event’s goal is to increase awareness on the harmful consequences of greenhouse gas emissions and to promote solutions that can help mitigate those emissions. Spinnova’s technology enables the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in the textile and fashion industry, and this article is a short reflection on the topic by Spinnova’s Sustainability Coordinator Laura Leinonen.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the textile and fashion industry account for 4% of all global greenhouse gas emissions1. Spinnova has developed a technology that enables the mitigation of these greenhouse gas emissions, but how does this happen and what kind of other complementary measures can help the society shift on a safe low-carbon path?

Low-carbon materials

Spinnova’s biggest impact on climate change mitigation comes from its technology that enables access to low-carbon (or even CO2 negative) materials that can be taken into use by brands or other businesses. The carbon footprint of Spinnova fibre is very low, and for example replacing cotton with SPINNOVA® reduces the emissions that enter the atmosphere. If we consider the surplus energy at Woodspin’s first factory and its consequent utilization, this saving becomes even bigger. There is a calculation formula below to demonstrate the emissions reduction potential of Spinnova fibre:

Emissions of cotton: P

Emissions of SPINNOV®: S – e , where

e = emissions reduction due to energy surplus

S = SPINNOVA®’s carbon footprint

Emissions reduction potential: P – (S – e) = P – S + e, which is > 0

This means that Spinnova has a great potential to mitigate and even reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the textile and fashion industry. The reduction or saving is the bigger, the bigger the difference in the carbon footprint compared to the other fibre, and the more the surplus energy can be used to replace energy otherwise produced with fossil fuels.

Demand side mitigation

As IPCC’s recent Working Group III report: ‘Climate Change: Mitigation of Climate Change’ demonstrates, limiting the climate change to 1.5 C degrees requires, in addition to low-carbon solutions, demand side actions. The demand side mitigation can be divided in three parts: (1) changes in infrastructure use (2) end-use technology adoption, and (3) socio-cultural and behavioral change. In addition to developing sustainable solutions, Spinnova has an impact on the demand side mitigation both as an end-use technology adopter and as a driver for socio-cultural and behavioral change.

End-use technology adoption

End-use technology adoption refers to, for example, the adoption of low-carbon and energy-efficient energy solutions (e.g. solar panels, ground heat, heat pumps) and other low-carbon technologies that are directly used by the user. Spinnova has had a strong role in adopting novel low-carbon technologies, such as the above-mentioned smart energy system of Woodspin, which we already learned to be an essential element in enhancing the emissions reduction potential of Spinnova fibre.  

Socio-cultural and behavioral change

Socio-cultural and behavioral change includes not only individual behavioral change (e.g. reducing long haul aviation, increasing the use of public transportation and shifting towards plant-based diets) but also structural and cultural changes in a broader manner. Systemic change requires not only individual behavioral change but also collective action where the changes in the environment support the shift to low-carbon lifestyles.

Let’s take textile and fashion industry as an example. Climate change mitigation in the textile and fashion industry requires the previously mentioned new technologies and other solutions, such as low-carbon materials, to be taken into use. On the same note it must be mentioned that if the consumption keeps on rising in the same pace, the emissions reduction achieved through the new technologies may be overturned. Socio-cultural change in which orientations such as ’sufficiency’ – where the central idea is to reduce consumption – and ’sharing economy’ – where consumers use products instead of owning them – become prominent, could be one effective way to reduce the use of natural resources to a sustainable level. In the context of textile and fashion industry this socio-cultural change could be reflected by abandoning fast fashion, limiting the number of new collections, conducting responsible marketing and sales practices, designing long-lasting and easily repairable products, and by making repair, resell and renting services more common and widely used.

As we see, a large-scale change towards a zero emissions society is only possible with the collaboration of different actors in the society. Everyone can, however, decide themselves in which capacities they wish to take part in that change – be it in the role of a consumer, citizen, professional, role model, activist, investor, or policymaker.

Laura Leinonen, Sustainability Coordinator at Spinnova

1McKinsey & Company: Fashion on Climate Report, August 26 2020