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Interview with Hideto Tanimoto

Hideto Tanimoto
Hideto Tanimoto
General Manager
Asahi Kasei Corporation
Asahi Kasei Corporation

How sustainable is Bemberg?

Bemberg aims at contributing to sustainability by establishing a production system with particular consideration for the control of chemicals and the environment, using cotton seed oil by-products as raw material, and maintaining ideal relationships between business and people's lives. 

Our manufacturing process is a closed loop system. Out of the total energy consumption, as high as 40 per cent is renewable energy through own hydropower plants and biomass power plant. Along with this, we also focus on zero emissions to reduce the waste coming out from the factory.

Bemberg believes in a sustainable society and hence partners with local textiles and design universities like NID, NIFT, DKTE and works with students on various projects. We believe this collaboration fosters the future of the textiles and fashion industry. We have also lent equipment to local suppliers from whom we procure the raw material. We also provide technical support to suppliers and other local stakeholders to improve their product quality and hence their lives. 

Bemberg is produced only at our plant in Japan at this moment in the world. There is no other company manufacturing Bemberg. The other main difference is raw material. For Bemberg, the raw material (source of cellulose) is cotton linter, which is a by-product of the cottonseed oil manufacturing.

What energy-saving methods are used by your company?

Consideration of environment during manufacturing has always been at our core research. We have systems in place to reuse the exhaust heat that is generated during the manufacturing of Bemberg. Also, this is more for CO2 reduction, which is one of the purposes of energy saving; but we own nine hydro-power plants, the oldest one being in operation since 1925 and two biomass power plants since 2012.  The renewable energy from these plants accounts for 40 per cent of the total energy consumption. In fact, the average renewable energy consumption of Japan is only around 12 per cent. Apart from this, we have been reusing the exhaust heat and hence reducing the energy consumption and carbon footprint.
What energy-saving methods are used by your company?

What steps have been taken to reduce CO2 emission during the production process?

We have increased the hydropower plant capacity, so that the proportion of renewable energy goes up. We are also taking measures to reduce energy consumption by improving the production system.

Does a fabric or garment have a Bemberg tag?

So far, Bemberg fabric and garments are sold in India without the Bemberg tags. However, with the collection Tattva by Hemang Agrawal, the Bemberg tags will be introduced for garments made in India.

The company recently took part in a fashion week with a designer. What do you hope to gain with this collaboration?

Yes, this was the first time that we participated in a major fashion week. This fashion week is the biggest platform around and has a day dedicated to sustainable fashion. Our aim was to expand our business with designer Hemang Agrawal from Varanasi for a contribution to local craftsmanship, to grow awareness and better understanding of the Bemberg brand among leading players in the sustainable fashion scene in India, and to seek further collaborations with those players. I can say that this partnership was a win-win situation for all the stakeholders involved.
The company recently took part in a fashion week with a designer.  What do you hope to gain with this collaboration?

Will Bemberg tie up with other designers, mills in India and elsewhere?

Yes, we absolutely want to tie up with other designers in the coming times, especially with leading players in the sustainable fashion scene in India who have the same spirit towards sustainability as we do or with upcoming young powers aiming at a sustainable society. Yes, we are willing to tie up with mills in India. It's actually common for us in Japan, Europe, and some other countries and we are looking for right partners in India right now.

What has been your growth story? Which are your biggest markets?

Bemberg has been in the industry for more than 85 years now. We started with a small quantity and now are producing Bemberg to the tune of 1200 MT per month and have expanded our markets and applications. We entered India around 40 years ago. Currently, it is our biggest market due to the huge consumption of saris, dupattas and other traditional wear. We are also focusing more on traditional wear in India.

What are your future plans?

We aim to contribute in maintaining and improving of traditional craftmanship, and to support the people by creating sustainable businesses among handloom clusters, such as Varanasi. Ultimately, we aim to contribute towards making the whole Indian fashion industry sustainable. For that, we'd love to cooperate with more key players who could lead the transformation of the industry.
Published on: 01/12/2020

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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