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Sustainability - Damocles Sword over manmade fibre sector
Dec '12
What is the interplay between sustainability and industry’s ever-greater environmental responsibility? What steps should firms take in response to the new geo-economic realignment of the planet? What strategic choices must be adopted given the constant growth in production and consumption of man-made fibres? These issues were discussed, at Università Carlo Cattaneo – LIUC in Castellanza, Varese, Italy, during the conference “The man-made fibres industry between globalization and sustainability”.

The event, which was organized by LIUC together with Assofibre Cirfs Italia [Italian Man-made Fibres Association] and the Manufacturers’ Association of the Province of Varese, presented an analysis of the international scenario, strategies aimed at acquiring and maintaining competitiveness, and new markets, through the experience of a number of large Italian companies in the fibres industry, including RadiciGroup.

“Today sustainability has entered the domain of sales and competitiveness,” stated Maurizio Radici, vice president and COO of RadiciGroup and president of Assofibre Cirfs Italia. “The main focus of our group’s efforts is making sustainability a total systemic approach to the management of our businesses, at all stages in our production chain, from chemicals to plastics and synthetic fibres.

"Concrete action is needed, starting from the smallest responsible steps that each individual can take in his or her daily routine. Sustainability is an overall vision of corporate management and, for this reason, we need to be committed not only on the environmental front but also on economic, human, production-commercial and social levels.”

Speaking before Mr. Radici’s talk were Rodolfo Helg, professor of international economics and director of the LIUC Institute of Economics and Management, and Aurora Magni, professor of industrial textile applications at the LIUC Institute of Industrial Engineering Applications.

During her report, Ms. Aurora Magni emphasized that worldwide consumption of man-made fibres had grown exponentially during the past ten years. “From the second half of the twentieth century up to now,” Ms. Magni said, “consumption of man-made fibres has never stopped growing. In 1960 these products made up 22% of textile materials in circulation, but by 1991, they made up 45%.

"Today man-made fibres comprise 66% of world textile fibre consumption. And consumption is still on the rise: an increase of 5% per year in the last decade, driven by both the biological limits of natural fibres and the increase in world population. The development of man-made fibres has been an adventure in industrial and scientific thought.”

European fibre manufacturers are demonstrating a tangible commitment to sustainability.  Evidence of this is the rising number and quality of man-made fibres produced with recycled materials, the greater use of renewable source energy, the growing use of biopolymers, the reduced amount and greater recycling of production rejects and the fact that non-recyclable waste from man-made fibre textiles can be efficiently incinerated to generate energy.

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