Over the next few years, manufacturers and suppliers – from the chemical industry to the producer of the end products – will have to increasingly address the issue of sustainability. Start: Now. Because the environmental impacts of the textile industry are all too well known – from pesticide pollution and high water requirements during cultivation, to high C02 emissions during the production of synthetic fibers, to the unsafe handling of chemicals that are harmful to health and the environment during the manufacturing process, and the pollution of water bodies due to inadequate wastewater management. And consumers – the users – are increasingly demanding that this situation ist to be changed sustainably.
Criticism already starts at the conceptual level, so a reorientation must offer a clearly changed design approach for industrial and organisational problems – and is closely linked to a cradle-to-cradle design principle. This universal approach to sustainable design transforms linear production chains into closed material cycles and ultimately calls for the emergence of new business models.
The days when sustainability was more of a ‘nice to have’ are clearly over. Today it is a clear ‘must have’, a trend that is unavoidable all in all, and thus also a competitive advantage – which does not have to be a disadvantage on many levels, but on the contrary promises good turnovers and profits. In addition to the complete elimination of the waste problem through the cradle-to-cradle principle mentioned above, there are other approaches to raising recycling processes and products to a new quality standard.
Transparency And Identification As Characteristics
Nevertheless, further research and in-depth industrial restructuring are needed to make such technologies suitable for large-scale deployment. This does not only apply to the product as such, but also to all preliminary stages and resources. What is decisive for the quality of the novel recycling products is what takes place at the beginning of the textile value chain. And here the choice of fibres comes first. Some fibres or fibre blends are easier to transfer into a closed material cycle – because not all products can be produced from easily recyclable natural fibres.
The first promising approaches for clear and forgery-proof labelling and identification of fibres are chemical markings with pigments, identification via QR codes and the blockchain technology, which is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, traceability and transparency are becoming more and more important.