PHOTO: Natureworks

Kick-Starter Questions 2018-01-12T06:18:37+00:00

When entering the world of biosynthetics you will need to work closely with your suppliers and customers to understand the opportunities and also the challenges. Below we have provided a number of key questions you will want answered.

For brands entering into working with biosynthetics, the following questions can be used as a framework for decision-making within your organizations.

Big Picture

→ Do you want to be seen as setting an example in the use of technologies that reduce the effects of climate change?

→ How does climate change reduction figure within your company strategy?


→ How do you want to market biosynthetics?

→ Does biosynthetics need to fall within a sustainability story, a performance story or both?

→ Is your customer looking for more sustainable products?


→ What margin adjustments are you willing to make in the short, medium and long term?


→ What polymers are you requiring within a biosynthetic portfolio (e.g. Polyester/Nylon/PLA)?

Product Development

→ Are you looking to broaden your preferred fiber portfolio?

→ Commercial readiness: Do you need a drop-in solution that can replicate your current polymer (PET, PA) from a volume, cost, availability, sourcing perspective?

→ What is your time frame for scale up across your product ranges?

Questions for brands and retailers to ask suppliers

Performance and Sustainability

→ What are the benefits of the bio based product to consumers and are there any performance features? (For example some biosynthetics or different performance features that can be used in marketing to the consumer, e.g. a softer hand feel, stronger, different moisture uptake etc.).

→ Have you carried out Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and can you demonstrate reduction in carbon foot printing from this product vs. its petroleum alternatives?

→ What are the environmental benefits or eco-profile of this product compared to alternatives?

→ What is your tested and recommended end-of-life process for this product (e.g. landfill, incineration, industrial composting, recycling)?

→ Can this product be recycled within existing recycling infrastructure?

→ If it can be recycled, what recycling methods are used? (For example, waste-to-energy and chemical recycling are very different recycling options).

Integrity and Certification

→ Does the raw material or polymer in your product currently hold or is pending any certification for bio content (e.g. USDA Bio Preferred)? If so is it able to carry any relevant marketing?

→ Can you reliably exclude (guarantee) that the bio- source you use does not compete with a food source? How do you guarantee this (e.g. Content Claim Standard (CCS) or other traceability standard)?

→ Why do you think it does not compete with food production?

→ With regards to the initial raw material, is it grown using GMO seeds or are GMO materials required?

→ What other impacts are their on land use and farming systems?

→ Are there any farm/land improvement programs in place (e.g. integrated pest mangement (IPM)?

Commercial Readiness and Parameters

→ What minimum quantities and lead-times do I need to work within?

→ In relation to above question, do these requirements need to be managed through a special lead-time development calendar?

→ What level of commercial readiness is the product or technology (e.g. fully commercial, pilot/demo, research, discontinued? If in pilot/demo stage, what is the timeline and plan for scale-up?

Supply Chain Partners

→ Who are your upstream and downstream supply chain partners, and which fabric suppliers can I ultimately work with to get samples of this product?

→ If the product is in pilot/demo stage, what other partners are you working with for scale-up? (i.e. technology providers, engineering firms, who are also supporting scale-up of new technologies but are not directly in the supply chain).

→ For each part of the supply chain, does this product (raw material or polymer) fit within a drop-in (existing process) or new process? (This question is important in regards to minimums, lead-times, cost and ease of engagement and development).

→ If it is a drop-in technology, how does that e ect change over times?


→ What are the known technical issues of the raw material or polymer? (e.g. impact on quality, or garment making etc.).

→ For each technology, please supply information on the raw material type, chemical name, polymer name and brand name, and certification where relevant.

→ Are there any technical opportunities or limitations for this new material or polymer? (Areas to take into consideration could include colour achievability, the addition of post production heat applications and consumer care.).

Questions for fabric suppliers to ask brand and retailer customers


→ Are you planning to engage with biosynthetics within a single product (i.e. a single tee-shirt) or a full product range (i.e. a collection of garments that are promoted as a product range)?

→ How, (if at all) do you intend to market the biosynthetic attributes to consumers? Will you use your own brand marketing identity, or the supplier-specific branding?

→ Does marketing a “crude oil-free” product provide any advantages in your market?


→ What is your scale-up strategy with regards to the involvement of biosynthetics within your product ranges (if it is not a “drop-in” product)?

→ Does your product require 100% bio based content or can you work with partially bio based products?

→ If you are content with partially bio based content for now, how soon will you require 100% bio content?


→ To get biosynthetics into your product range, do you have any flexibility for margin adjustments within the first launch?

→ How quickly does this technology need to work within a given and set margin?• Are you interested in supporting development and commercialization of these new products/ technologies?Are you purely interested in materials when they are available in commercial volumes?


→ What are your technical/quality requirements? Are they any di erent from conventional synthetics requirements?

→ Do you require any post production processes on these garments (i.e. heat transfer applications or post embellishments)?

Questions for fabric makers to ask upstream suppliers

Performance and Sustainability

→ Can you provide recommended end-of-life procedures for this product with relevant justification?

→ Is there any Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data to support this product/technology?

Integrity and Certification

→ Do you work with any certification bodies to prove that this is (1) from renewable resources (2) has a certified percentage bio based content?

Commercial Readiness and Parameters

→ Is this product deemed pilot level or in full commercial production?

→ What is the minimum order quantity?

→ Is there a special development calendar associated with this product?

Supply Chain Partners

→ Which upstream supply chain partners are you working with?


→ Are there any technical processing guidelines that need to be observed?


→ Is this product supported by any marketing material?