An industry white paper 'Quantifying The Impact of Textiles Innovation: How A Collaborative Approach Could Help Lighten The Textile Industry's Environmental Load', argues that a sustainable future can only be achieved by scrutinising every stage of a garment's lifecycle. Here, Jorge Faria, Managing Director at Aquitex - a textile auxiliary house based near Porto, Portugal - talks about his belief that innovation, born from collaboration, will ultimately be the 'sustainability lifeboat' for textiles.
What do you see as the key challenges facing the textile industry today?
There is a pressing need to reduce levels of pollution throughout the textile production process. This covers effluent, energy usage and water consumption. Improving the efficiency of the continuous bleaching process for cotton would deliver both time and energy savings.
The resins that are used in the finishing process should also ideally be eliminated. The use of salt and alkali pH at the dyeing stage also receive a lot of attention as salt, as the most commonly used chemical in the dyeing process, is a major concern for processing effluent.
What are the barriers to sustainability in the industry, as it stands?
A lack of innovation is a fundamental issue. This is a traditional industry with, typically, low profit margins.
To resolve the pressing issues that are really impacting the environment, game-changing technologies will be needed. They must deliver the required performance and sustainably benefits all at a competitive cost.
What have been some of the key developments towards a sustainable future for textiles?
While there has been some progress, I believe the true innovations are yet to be delivered. The new selection of Avitera dyes from Huntsman offer clear improvements in water and energy usage, helping to improve the overall carbon footprint at this process stage. We have also launched our New Age process which allows for dyeing and rinsing off at 40°C. Enabled by the Pegasus based low temperature bleaching system, this technology aims to reduce energy consumption throughout the process.
How does your organisation contribute to a cleaner, greener textile industry?
To deliver true innovation we recognise that we cannot work in a silo. For that reason, we collaborate with several universities to help develop ideas and bring them to market. To that end we already have one patent for effluent treatment and are working towards a salt, and alkali free dyeing route.
Where do you see the role of innovation in achieving sustainability goals and where do you think this innovation will come from?
Collaboration will be key between chemical companies, universities and throughout the industry. As chemical manufacturers, we must bring our skills to bear on these complex issues. Overall, there must be a constant drive for innovation, innovation, innovation.
Published on: 18/10/2017
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