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New fabrics make recycling possible, but are they suitable for high street?

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Fibre-based textiles claim to be highly recyclable, but fashion quality controls prevent them from going mainstream

As clothing brands experiment with textile-to-textile recycling models, the emergence of new fabrics built around closed loop processes could help accelerate this progress. Examples of recent innovation in this field include Econyl, X2 Plus, Returnity and SaXcell. Based on the concept of regeneration from the outset, these fibre-based textiles are largely crafted from waste materials and claim to be highly recyclable or reusable, making them suitable for multiple life cycles.

Econyl is a type of nylon manufactured wholly from waste streams and swimwear brands were among the first to invest. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Econyl is a type of nylon manufactured wholly from waste streams and swimwear brands were among the first to invest. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Econyl is a type of nylon manufactured wholly from waste streams that include abandoned fishing nets and carpets. It is billed as a sustainable alternative to Nylon 6, which is traditionally sourced from caprolactam (a derivative of oil). Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil, the company behind Econyl, says the clothing industry has been quick to take advantage of Econyl since its launch in 2011.

“Swimwear brands were among the first to invest in the use of Econyl fibres as the majority of their products are made from nylon,” says Bonazzi. “Brands such as Koru Swimwear and Adidas were impressed with our efforts to not only recover derelict fishing nets … but also expand our supply source for post-consumer waste.”

Besides swimwear, Econyl is suitable for the manufacture of sportswear, lingerie and outdoor clothing.

Returnity is a 100% recyclable polyester which is replacing not only traditional polyester, but cotton and wool-based fabrics too. According to Dutch aWEARness, which owns the European license for the product, Returnity fabrics reduce CO2 impact by 73%, waste management by 100% and water usage by 95% compared to cotton.

Returnity is mainly used in the workwear market, where takeback of corporate garments is easier to arrange. Dutch aWEARness founder Rien Otto believes the potential is there to widen its appeal: “Extension to the fashion market is possible, in particular in areas where garments are polyester-based, such as sportswear, outdoor wear and jackets.”

Yarns appropriate for consumer fashion fabrics are already under development, Rien adds: “We see that more and more brands are looking for new production methods, new collections and materials. At this moment, we are sharing our knowledge with different brands that want to change their way of working.”
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With their Garment Collecting and Shwopping in-store clothing takeback programmes, H&M and Marks & Spencer (M&S) respectively are both keeping a watchful eye on such activities. H&M’s environmental sustainability coordinator Carola Tembe says the company’s long term goal is to find a solution for reusing and recycling all textile fibres and to use yarns made out of collected textiles in its products.

“There are a lot of different exciting projects and research going on in this field, and we aim to find a scalable solution for textile-to-textile recycling with an outcome equal, or hopefully even better, than virgin fibres in the near future,” she says.

H&M has already started to use pre- and post-consumer recycled textile waste in its products, but Tembe points to limitations, particularly when it comes to closing the loop on natural fibres. “For recycled cotton, the highest amount of mechanically recycled post-consumer fibre H&M can use at the moment is 20% without compromising the quality,” she says.

“In the mechanical recycling procedure, the textile fibres are being regenerated in a way that makes the textile fibres shorter and with lower quality than virgin fibre. They need to be blended with virgin fibres to reach our quality standards.”

M&S’s general merchandise innovation delivery manager Jo Gordon sees “huge potential” in reusing post-consumer raw materials in retail fashion – the company plans to launch more closed loop clothing lines later this year. However, she acknowledges there are still challenges involved.

M&S is now looking to drive its own agenda in this space – it is working with the University of Cambridge on a project called Redress, part-funded by Innovate UK, to examine circular economy opportunities around garment recovery. “It’s a two-year project that will investigate opportunities to increase volume and value of textile recovery. It’s too early at this stage to go into further details on what the different opportunities might be, but we have committed to sharing the learnings of the project publicly in 2016,” Gordon says.

Building greater durability into fabrics that can be used again and again could pave the way for the ultimate in closed loop clothing – leasable fibres. This would allow fabric suppliers or textile manufacturers to effectively retain ownership of a garment’s raw materials.

Dutch aWEARness’ Otto says it’s a concept to aim for. “The advantage of a lease model and performance-based contracts is the continuous drive to optimise the performance of the product, the environmental performance and the costs.”

Financing such models, however, remains a huge sticking point, he adds: “We are investigating if there are possibilities for a green investment fund with pension funds or investors.”

Aquafil’s Bonazzi agrees it’s a “great concept”, but cautions: “The logistics could be a potential snag if not cost-effective to all parties, convenient for the consumer or if there is an overall lack of interest and participation from the consumer.”

** This post first appeared on the Guardian Sustainable Business blog here.

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Experts Frame rules to make textile industry green

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Speakers at a seminar styled as ‘Legal and Regulatory Issues Related to Environmental Sustainability of the Textile Sector’ in Dhaka yesterday – See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2015/mar/22/experts-frame-rules-make-textile-industry-green#sthash.pUsVEHfk.dpuf

In the wake of increasing demand for green products globally, experts yesterday suggested framing rules for making the textile industry environmental complaint for enhancing its competitiveness and sustainability.

They also made a set of recommendations, including giving financial or fiscal incentives to encourage entrepreneurs to low-cost cleaner production practices and making aware that the reduction of energy consumption can be a real cost-cutter.

The recommendations were made at a seminar on “Legal and Regulatory Issues Related to Environmental Sustainability of the Textiles Sector,” organised jointly by Policy Research Institute (PRI) and International Finance Corporation at the PRI conference room.

Speaking at the function, Environment and Forest Minister Anwar Hossain Manju said his ministry had put its best efforts to improve environment in the country.

“There are lots of regulations but effective implementation of them is important to reduce pollution,” he said.

He expressed disappointment that the water supplied by the government was not drinkable, which is “unfortunate.”

BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said ensuring quality and environmental matters in the factories is increasingly becoming a global issue.

“This means if any of the two is missing, you are simply out of business.”

“But it is easy for big factories but not for small factories to address the environmental pollution, which is a challenge.”

Atiqul Islam added the textile industry uses ground water as it contains less chlorine.

He laid emphasis on financial support at lower interest for implementing the environmental issue.

Senior environmental adviser to GIZ in Bangladesh Tanuja Bhattacharjee said rules and proper guidelines are necessary to make textile industry competitive as environmental sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue in international arena.

“It is high time to look at the issue so that we can set example before the world,” she said.

She said GIZ is going to launch mobile testing water wastage programme by June next to identify the level of environment pollution in the textile industry.

Assistant Chief of Ministry of Environment and Forest, Khalid Hassan said the ministry is in the process of enacting Land Zoning Act to help make cluster textile industry outside of the city.

Chief Operating Officer of Comfit Composite Limited, Md Kawser Ali described that how his company had reduced use of water by adopting environment-friendly technology.

“Use of water has fallen to 50 litres from 180 litres for cleaning per kilogram fabric. ”

PRI Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur emphasised the need to address the environmental issue before being late for keeping the environment clean for generations to come.

He presented a paper at the seminar putting a number of recommendations, including differentiating water tariffs based on locations, strengthening enforcement and monitoring, tax and duty rationalisation for encouraging environmentally-friendly investment goods and for discouraging hazardous chemicals.

The paper said although data on the extent of washing dying and finishing firms with effluent treatment plants (ETPs) are not readily available, the perception of experts is that the coverage is very low at around 30%.

Without the full coverage with ETPs along with strict enforcement of rules, the water pollution could not be addressed, it said.

An assessment of four firms shows that 3 of 7 best practices cost less than Tk4.1 lakh each, two of them cost almost nothing.

None requires more than 15 months to recoup the costs and the improvements could reduce water and energy consumption by up to 25% as well as reduce chemical use significantly, according to the findings.

** This post was sourced from Dhaka Tribune here.

Textile makers stress on importance of sustainability

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The textile sector is one of the oldest industries on the planet and it is growing rapidly to meet the needs of people of all ages. Presently, the biggest challenge faced by the textile industry is sustainability and some industry representatives are stressing on the importance of environmental protection in the sector.

Speaking to fibre2fashion, Ms. Sharon Rowe, CEO and founder of Eco-Bags, a manufacturer of reusable eco-friendly cotton net bags, said, “Transparency is the key to sustainability.”

“Allowing the customers to see who is making the goods, how they are being compensated, the environmental conditions and the third party certifications are becoming more and more important in sustainable textile production,” she adds.

Elaborating about the importance of textile production, Dr. Tim Swales, vice-president, research & development and chief sustainability officer for Johns Manville (JM), a manufacturer of technical textiles, says, “The biggest issue facing the global textile industry is water usage and pollution, particularly in raw material processing areas such as dyeing and printing.”

“The next biggest issue faced by the textile sector is landfill use – the need to recycle/reuse/repurpose at end of life will continue to grow,” he informs.

According to him, the technologies exist globally to address the issues of water and landfill. “The industry and individual countries must take it seriously and it is up to them to make sure their manufacturers address these issues in a timely manner,” he continues.

“However, if you look more broadly at sustainability the social impact of appalling employee conditions, especially in the garment industry, must also be addressed,” he mentions.

In a similar vein, Ms. Rowe says, “The textile manufacturers must focus on environmental protection while producing textiles and clothing.”

** This post is sourced from Fibre2Fashion here.

Eileen Fisher outlines bold sustainability goals

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NEW YORK, March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — EILEEN FISHER is taking a stand for sustainable business practices by announcing its new VISION2020 campaign, a bold new plan detailing the steps the brand will take over the course of the next five years toward reaching a goal of 100% sustainability. The brand will launch a national advertising campaign announcing its efforts, which will be supported through social media, PR, online, and their retail stores. Known for its commitment to responsible and eco-friendly business practices, EILEEN FISHER will outline the steps they will take over these next five years to work towards that goal in eight important categories: materials, chemistry, water, carbon, conscious business practices, fair wages & benefits, worker voice, and worker & community happiness.

“To create a truly responsible supply chain, we need to scrutinize everything we do, from the field to the factory to the landfill,” said Candice Reffe, Co-Creative Officer. “We need to take a hard look at what’s often swept under the rug — toxins, carbon emissions, and low worker pay, to name a few. It won’t be easy. We’ll need the help of our customers, our manufacturing partners, and like-minded brands. And we’ll do it with two simple words: no excuses.”

The brand plans to continue on its path toward fiber sustainability by using only organic cotton and linen in its clothing by 2020. Additionally, the brand plans to use only wool from sheep that are humanely raised on sustainable farms, and swap Tencel® for rayon. To improve its use of color, the brand will be continuing its partnership with bluesign® technologies working toward responsible chemical, water, and energy usage. By the year 2020, roughly 30% of all EILEEN FISHER items will be bluesign® certified. Further, the brand plans to reach out to other fashion labels to create demand for responsible dyes in an attempt to establish a new industry norm. To reverse the global resource consumption trend, the brand is pledging to use less water, emitting less carbon, and producing less fabric waste, as well as investing in alternative energy. In five years, EILEEN FISHER, Inc. pledges that its US operations won’t just be carbon neutral — they’ll be carbon positive.

The campaign isn’t just about energy and resources — from investing in alternative supply chains that pay fair wages to creating investment programs like The Handloom Project in rural communities — the brand is also committed to improving the livelihoods of the workers in its supply chain. In an effort to ensure only the finest natural materials are used in the best conditions, the EILEEN FISHER will also be mapping its global supply chain, investigating suppliers, factories, spinners, and mills and posting the progress for fans of the brand to follow online. Finally, EILEEN FISHER is pledging to continue its work to reuse clothing and reduce waste with its clothing recycling program. By 2020, the program is expected to hit 1 million recycled items, which the brand will resell. Those items that can’t be resold will be turned into raw material for new textiles or fashioned into new clothes. With its newly laid out goals, the brand hopes to work towards total sustainability, and envisions a world in which waste is a thing of the past.

About EILEEN FISHER:
EILEEN FISHER has been creating effortlessly chic clothes for the past 30 years. Designed with pure shapes and fine fabrics, the collections offer sophistication, comfort and style that lasts. As a socially conscious company, EILEEN FISHER is a pioneer in eco-friendly fashion and in supporting global initiatives that empower women and girls. The clothing is sold at more than 60 EILEEN FISHER retail stores in the US, Canada and the UK, as well as at major department stores and eileenfisher.com

This post originally appeared here.

Successful Swedish water project ensures cleaner textile production in India

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Wed, Mar 25, 2015 08:20 CET

(Stockholm, 25 March 2015) – By participating in a unique project for cleaner production, Sustainable Water Resources (SWAR), suppliers to the Swedish retail brands Indiska, KappAhl and Lindex have reduced their environmental impact and improved capacity through training on resource efficiency.

For a garment production factory in Noida, India, the idea of coupling sustainable practices with significant financial savings was initially far-fetched. However, through SWAR they have succeeded.  Now, the factory has reinvested these savings in new technology which ensures efficient use of natural resources.

“We are now all aware of how important it is to save water, energy and chemicals, which is helpful in cutting factory costs. Building capacity and educating at every level in the garment industry needs to be an ongoing process”, says Mr Ravinder Hand from garment manufacturer Radnik.

The SWAR project is a cooperation between the Swedish brands and their Indian suppliers, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Sida, and India-based consultancy cKinetics. SWAR was co-financed by the brands and Sida, in a public-private partnership that linked business and international development goals.

More than 40 factories participated in the project. The project has contributed to saving 284 million litres of water and 402 tonnes of chemicals annually. The factories were also able to save an average of three per cent of their energy cost and three per cent of their operational costs.

“Being able to save costs through resources use efficiency is important, but it is not sustainable without a mind-shift. This is best achieved through continuous training and capacity development”, says Rami Abdelrahman, Programme Manager at SIWI.

The project trained more than 13,000 factory workers and managers in the past two years.

The Indian textile industry contributes with three per cent to India’s GDP and employs more than 45 million people. The industry is one of the largest industrial water polluters in India, and is facing serious growth limitations due to increasing freshwater shortage.

The project expands
More than half of the participating factories will continue to work on their own, continuously communicating their development to their clients in Sweden. Others have joined a network created by SIWI and the three fashion brands for continuing the learning journey.

SWAR has inspired SIWI, Sida, the piloting brands and an additional 16 Swedish fashion brands to catalyse a shift toward sustainable production and continuous learning in major production hubs in Asia and Africa.

Starting in 2015, the project scales up to include several Indian states and four other countries in the world. It involves more than 120 suppliers globally and is a part of the project Sweden Textile Water Initiative, STWI.

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Knowing what’s happening within sustainability in apparel industry can be a challenging & time consuming task. We stitch news from various sources and bring you the best picks – issues closest to your heart, companies you love to know more about and updates you do not want to miss – all in one place. Welcome to GreenStitched!