– Why this project?

"If nothing changes, everything changes. "1 - The consequences of the advancing climate change, the dramatic loss of biodiversity and the pollution of air, water and soil require a profound change of our society and economy towards a climate-neutral, resource-saving and waste-avoiding "Green Economy".

In many cases, we are exceeding the ecological limits of our planet2 and threatening to throw it out of balance. Rapid and consistent action is required to limit climate change to a manageable level and to overcome the many other ecological challenges.

The pressure for change is considerable. Only together and with many individual measures in all economic sectors can the change succeed. With NaturalFIBER BW, the AFBW is getting involved in the transformation process of the textile industry and agriculture and is focusing on intensifying the cultivation, processing and use of natural fibers in Baden-Württemberg.

Here we are still at the very beginning. Natural fibers such as hemp, flax, hops or nettle have so far only been cultivated in small quantities in Baden-Württemberg. Further processing and application are carried out by a few niche suppliers. There is a lack of an active network along the natural fiber-based value chain that sees the potential and wants to develop it. That is why we have launched NaturalFIBER BW.

1 Katharina Rogenhofer und Florian Schlederer, "Ändert sich nichts, ändert sich alles": Wir müssen endlich handeln
2 Steffen et al. 2015

NaturalFIBER BW – vision and objectives
Our vision is the broad establishment of natural fibers in Baden-Württemberg - from cultivation to processing and application. Baden-Württemberg becomes an exemplary state in this future field and understands how to use the resource-related structural change as an innovation driver.
Our goal is to inspire stakeholders along the entire (natural) fiber-based value chain to cultivate and use natural fibers in the state and thus develop new economic ecosystems in Baden-Württemberg. NaturalFIBER BW aims to encourage rethinking and action and to initiate sustainable changes in agriculture and the fiber-based industry in the region.
Specifically and in detail
NaturalFIBER BW aims at ...
  1. the strategic development of different technology and market fields in the field of natural fibers
  2. the development of resource-saving production systems and innovative processing methods
  3. the intelligent networking of material flows and processors along the value chain
  4. the permanent reduction of dependence on energy and raw material imports
  5. Strengthening rural areas as well as the textile industry in Baden-Württemberg through regional value creation and innovative bioeconomic solutions
  6. a Baden-Württemberg that becomes an exemplary state for the transformation to a sustainable, resource-conserving economy.
Project modules – Getting into action

NaturalFIBER BW initiates and implements a new cooperation and innovation platform tailored to the specific needs of the respective cooperating industries for the cultivation and use of natural fibers along the fiber-based value chain including agriculture.

Tasks and work packages

  1. Information und Communication
    Establishment of an online platform as a communicator and knowledge provider on the topic of natural fibers
    • Finding and passing on knowledge, networking know-how, exchanging experience
    • Services: Natural fiber wiki, FAQ's on natural fibers, chatbot for first simple questions, online consultation
  2. Networking of spaces, industries and sectors
    Identification of cross-sectional fields of action and synergy effects
    • Bundle and expand existing knowledge across industries and sectors
    • Services: Match-making of textile industry and agriculture; impulses for new cultivation and processing possibilities as well as new end products
  3. Promotion of ecological innovations and technological sovereignty
    Focus on collaboration as a decisive success factor for bioeconomic innovations
    • Ensure technological sovereignty in the field of cultivation and use of natural fibers for Baden-Württemberg
    • Development of natural fibers as renewable and recyclable raw material source
  4. Overcoming obstacles and difficulties in communication
    Provision of a communicator to overcome communication difficulties and innovation barriers between stakeholders
    • Offering the AFBW phone: Requesting information, advice from the three project partners
  5. Cooperation
    Intensification of cooperation activities in order to mutually benefit from strengths and competencies
    • Development of new fields of cooperation
    • Targeted implementation of ideas, creation of synergies
Natural fiber – value creation with a future

In addition to the well-known types such as cotton, flax and hemp, natural fibers include a wide and diverse range of other fibers that need to be developed. These include hops, lavender, nettle, silphia, millet, straw, miscanthus (elephant grass) or paludiculture (e.g. reeds). They offer great potential to reduce the use of fossil fuels for fiber production.

Renewable raw materials and their components are true multi-talents in material use and are already contained in many everyday products. They possess diverse functional properties and are not mere substitutes for fossil raw materials. This must be recognized and applied to other ecological fields of activity. Natural fibers offer many advantages, particularly in environmentally compatible production and in life cycle assessment, which are attracting more and more attention in industry.

Today, natural fibers are considered - e.g. in the automotive industry - to be e.g. in the automotive industry - as inexpensive and environmentally compatible lightweight construction materials. Their production and preparation require significantly less energy than glass and synthetic fibers. By binding 1.5 kg of CO2 per kg of fiber, they are considered a carbon dioxide reservoir and sink. With a calorific value of about 17 MJ/kg, they are suitable for cascade use.

Nevertheless, cultivation and processing of fiber plants in Germany and Baden-Württemberg are at a very low level. Compared to the classic cultivation countries France, Belgium and the Netherlands with cultivation areas between 70,000 and 100,000 ha/a3 , Germany is far behind. This slowed development is currently contrasted by diverse research activities in the field of natural fibers with numerous public projects.


Baden-Württemberg – best conditions that fit
The conditions are good for a prospering natural fiber platform in Baden-Württemberg:
Germany, as the world market leader in technical textiles, and Baden-Württemberg in particular, with its differentiated and efficient textile industry across all stages of the value chain, are ideally positioned for the project.
Baden-Württemberg has strong user industries that are looking for new, recyclable material solutions, greater raw material security and resilient value chains. An experienced processing industry and high-performance research landscape in the field of natural fibers are also available with the research institutes in Denkendorf and Hohenstein and the University of Hohenheim.
At the same time, Baden-Württemberg is a strong agricultural state whose rather small areas (in contrast to the growing regions in the east) are managed by flexible, agricultural businesses.
A Swabian bakery company has already demonstrated the flexibility, willingness to adapt and innovative capacity of its farmers. It sought cooperation with farmers to cultivate special primordial grains in order to create new bread varieties. The cultivation of natural fibers can also be re-initiated according to this principle.


Networking & Connecting – building new value chains

In order to cope with the ecological structural change, cooperation and exchange is required at all levels. This is where NaturalFIBER BW comes in, bringing together stakeholders and start-ups along the innovation pipeline of (natural) fiber-based materials and technologies. The goal is to create an active network and ecosystem with mainly regional, but also national and international players in the field of natural fibers if interested.

These include agricultural companies involved in cultivation and harvesting, companies involved in the processing of plant mass and the fiber-based industry, but also buyers of fiber-based products from other industries, research groups at universities, colleges, other research institutions and start-ups.

Only together and in close exchange can new resource-saving production systems be developed and the intelligent networking of material flows and processors along the value chains be initiated. NaturalFIBER BW creates the framework for cooperation and target-oriented, efficient collaboration in the field of natural fibers.

In this way, new value chains and networks are created, which generate a multitude of possible supplier-customer linkages of concrete companies and drive the change. This change process requires active shaping, forward-looking coordination and the development of an overarching strategy, which AFBW is responsible for and contributes to the project.

You want to be part of it?

Then get in touch with us and become part of a growing community.

We look forward to your call or e-mail.

Julia Kottmann
+49 711 21050-30