The main two factors for the industry are the consumption of water and energy. Textile manufacturing has already implemented technologies that take account of both the requirement to save and recycle resources and the change in the market to smaller production lots and accelerated development processes.
Until now the downstream clothing industry has successfully focussed on in-house process optimisation and the traceability of upstream products up to and including fibres.
Bertram Rollmann, founder and owner of Pirin-Tex in Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria, has been involved at the production level. Founded in 1993, the company today employs 3,000 people producing men’s and women’s suits under contract for renowned European brands.
The company has its own Rollmann brand of clothing for the modern, discerning businessman and markets this through a number of retail outlets in Bulgaria. Pirin-tex is also involved in the sector of corporate fashion.
Since the start of the century Rollmann has been targeting the power and water guzzlers in its operation. Ultimately these represent up to three percent of the total costs and this is a significant factor for Rollmann considering increases in the price of oil, gas and electricity. It started with steaming and ironing equipment which make up the lion’s share of the consumption costs.
The Veit Group took Rollmann's ideas on board, improving and designing new ironing presses and tunnel finishers. Rollmann partnered this development – and between 2003 and 2012 they were able to reduce energy consumption by 37 percent.
In addition the Rollmann team is looking at recycling: packaging and waste fabrics are separated, collected together, pressed into balls and then passed on to recycling companies. Forty people are involved in this alone.
The textile and clothing industry in Europe looks to machine innovations
A feature of the European textile industry is its intensive use of machinery; this has enabled it to open up new market segments in the sectors of carpets, home textiles and technical textiles. Through close cooperation with European manufacturers of textile machines and suppliers of textile chemicals the industry has been successful in screwing down the costs of energy and water consumption.
To further advance along this chosen path Euratex, the umbrella organisation for the European textile and clothing industry, has been focussing amongst other things on improving access to European programmes to promote research and development and ensuring that these programmes take a more pragmatic approach. It is claimed that too few companies have been able to participate – undermining sustainability and competitiveness in a fast-moving, market-driven sector.
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