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The Big Picture: In focus at ITMA 2015 conferences

by Adrian Wilson | 02 Sep, 2015

There’s an extremely interesting conference programme lined up alongside this year’s ITMA, starting with the World Textile Summit 2015 which will take place on 13 November.

This will bring together some of the world’s most prominent textile business leaders to debate issues of strategic importance to the industry, with an emphasis on the opportunities for adopting sustainable forward planning.

With the World Bank having accepted an invitation to speak at the World Textile Summit 2015, alongside executives from adidas, Everest Textile Company, Menderes Tekstil, Nike Inc and Otto Group, this not-to-be-missed event will provide the big ideas and key insights to take away from your stay in Milan this November.

Circular economy
I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Helga Vanthourout, a senior consultant at McKinsey, outline her organisation’s ideas on how the so-called ‘circular economy’ can positively impact on the textile manufacturing value chain.

Images with this blog post are from Directions 2014: New Sustainability Thinking by MSLGROUP

Images with this blog post are from Directions 2014: New Sustainability Thinking by MSLGROUP, Details: https://www.scribd.com/MSLGROUP

McKinsey believes that there’s a US$1 trillion opportunity for manufacturing industries out there, if the correct strategies can be widely adopted, and that the logic of circular thinking is already becoming increasingly clear to many companies.

Progress, however, remains slow, with businesses needing to break the habits of several generations in order to reap the benefits.

In a recent article, Vanthourout and fellow McKinsey analyst Martin Stuchtey pointed out that by 2030, up to three billion consumers from the developing world will enter the middle class, putting enormous pressure on natural resources. Since 2009, commodity prices have grown faster than global economic output and at the same time – even as global competition intensifies – there is growing political and public pressure on businesses to improve their environmental and social performance.

The circular economy, Vanthourout and Stuchtey say, offers an opportunity to successfully address all of these issues.

As a ‘regenerative’ economy model, it aims to help companies greatly reduce their dependence on resources by designing products for multiple cycles of use, disassembly and re-use. The aim is to eradicate waste – not just from manufacturing processes, but throughout the life cycle of products and their components.

Take, make and throw away
The circular economy is based on four key principles:

  • Creating business models to capture more value from a manufactured product
  • Designing products with multiple useful lives in mind
  • Developing ‘reverse logistics’ that keep the need for quality and cost efficiency in balance
  • Co-ordinating with players within and across supply chains to create scale and to identify higher-value uses

This approach, say Vanthourout and Stuchtey, contrasts sharply with the mind-set embedded in most of today’s industrial operations, where even the everyday terminology – ‘the value chain’, ‘the supply chain’, ‘the end user’ – suggests a rigid linear approach.

Images with this blog post are from Directions 2014: New Sustainability Thinking by MSLGROUP

Images with this blog post are from Directions 2014: New Sustainability Thinking by MSLGROUP, Details: https://www.scribd.com/MSLGROUP

In the circular economy, the traditional model of manufacturing – take, make and throw away – is turned into a regenerative one that retains and restores material, energy and labour inputs. Re-use, refurbishing or recycling become the default options.

Colourants and Chemicals
Textile industry initiatives already underway will be outlined at the World Textile Summit 2015, and also at a second event, the Textile Colourant and Chemical Leaders Forum, which takes place on 14 November.

This will explore topics related to chemical pollution and environmental protection, and how they impact the market. It will also address how the supply chain can respond and potential game changers moving forward.

Han Kuilderd of Novozymes, for example, will explain how dyeing, bleach cleaning and biopolishing can now all be achieved in a single bath as a result of the company’s latest enzymatic treatments. These are proving instrumental in enabling mills to reduce their processing times and at the same time cut down on water, energy and chemicals.

Also contributing to more sustainable processes are the latest dyeing and finishing technologies of the Italian specialists Loris Bellini and Tonello, which will be presented by Mauro Fassi and Matteo Tagliapietra respectively.

The latest advances in sustainable water repellency solutions will be covered by Georg Lang of Archroma and Dr Murray Height, of HeiQ. In this area, a hot topic over the past few years has been achieving effective repellency with treatments that are as effective as traditional fluorocarbon-based chemistry, if not better.

“Unique geometries and structures found in nature are informing some of the emerging technologies for achieving fluorine-free durable water repellency performance in the future,” says Dr Height.

Not to be missed is news of the progress in waterless dyeing in a paper to be given by Dr Pankaj D. Desai of India’s dyestuffs leader and pioneer in SCF dyes, Colourtex Industries Pvt. Ltd., and Ernst Siewers of DyeCoo, the Dutch developer of the revolutionary technology.

“While the ultimate environmental impact of this innovation cannot be quantified at this stage, the use in textile processing of SCF – super critical fluids – has set the industry on a greener, more environmentally sustainable path,” says Dr Desai.

For more details of why this is so exciting, read my previous blog entry, Colour and coating under consideration.

Lutz Walter, Secretary General of The European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing and EURATEX will summarise the drivers for sustainability in the European textile and clothing industry.

Nonwovens
Consumer products giant, Procter & Gamble (P&G), may not be an obvious example of a company involved in the textile industry, but in fact is the biggest buyer of nonwoven fabrics globally for its Pampers baby diapers and other absorbent hygiene products.

Over the past five years, P&G has analysed its supply chain and targeted the partners that can actually make use of its process waste and non-performing inventory. This strategy has created US$1 billion in savings – or additional profits, depending on how you want to look at it – and is a perfect example of how the circular economy can begin to take shape.

Sustainability is very high on the agenda of EDANA – the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association – which together with MP Expositions Pte Ltd is jointly organising the Nonwovens Forum taking place on 16 November.

EDANA has recently completed the ‘Life with Nonwovens’ study which considers all three dimensions of sustainability via a series of case studies in different nonwoven end-use markets.

Important primary data for the total life cycle, including production, use, and end-of-life phases, was collected from the selected case studies.

A carbon footprint model was developed based on the case studies and calculations made cover the total life-cycle of production (including the production and delivery of raw materials and fuels), as well as effects in use and waste management. Emissions data was calculated for the production, use and waste management per kg or square metre of product made for each selected application.

Economic data was also collected and cost calculations made, and the social aspects of using nonwovens are described qualitatively.

Based on this study, EDANA has generated a series of infographics highlighting the benefits of nonwovens to society as a whole in each of the application areas covered.

Life Cycle Analysis
Meanwhile, EDANA’s comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) projects have continued.

The very first EDANA LCA project started in June 1993, with 66 member companies participating and the organisation has most recently conducted new LCAs for both baby diapers and incontinence products.

Jacques Prigneaux, EDANA’s Market Analysis and Economic Affairs Director, will provide an insight into 2014 production figures for nonwovens, including recent trends and international trade dynamics.

The highest growth in tonnage in 2014’s European nonwovens production was achieved by materials bonded by hydroentanglement, up 9.3% and needlepunching up 9.1%.

Representatives of machine builders specialising in both technologies will speak at the Nonwovens Forum at ITMA 2015, including Johann Philipp Dilo, General Manager of Germany’s Dilo Group and Laurent Jallat, Head of Marketing at Andritz Nonwoven.

Dilo Group offers highly efficient production lines, from fibre opening to finished roll goods, in all working widths. Andritz Nonwoven has integrated the technologies of the companies Küsters, Perfojet and Asselin-Thibeau over the past decade and now has more than 220 complete nonwoven lines in operation globally.

In other presentations at the Nonwovens Forum at ITMA 2015, Martin Rademacher and Ingo Mahlmann of Oerlikon Neumag will detail the advantages of company’s spunbond lines for technical applications such as roofing substrates and geotextiles, and the benefits of ultrasonic web spicing systems will be outlined by Pierre Croutelle, Sales Manager of Spoolex.

Sustainable Innovations will also be one of three themes of the Speakers Platform series of 20-minute presentations from research and education institutions which will be held throughout 15 to 17 November at ITMA 2015. A fourth conference, 2BFUNTEX, will provide an overview of the EU FP7 project which has brought together 26 European research institutes to look at how new technologies can be more rapidly adopted by the textile industry.

All of this, of course, will be happening as the world’s largest textile machinery exhibition is in full flow!

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