Interview with Peter Waeber

Peter Waeber
Peter Waeber
Bluesign Technologies AG
Bluesign Technologies AG

How do you see the sustainability certification industry in the future? What are the reasons?

The certification will be more and more important in the future, because consumers are more and more educated and hence the awareness is growing, not only in European countries or in the USA. Consumers have access to internet and social networks and get plenty and fast information today. That is also a fact that NGO's are using such platforms and pressuring the brands to optimize their supply chain. The brand or retailer at the end has to answer the critical questions and therefore a certification could help to solve these problems.

The textile companies are urged to make use of sustainable chemical products. How could it be effective?

What is very important in the whole process is that a third party is supporting this step with a chemical rating system. Chemical companies have to install an EHS stewardship program to make sure that all-important data in the production of dyestuffs, auxiliaries or chemicals are of good quality and available. This is definitely not the case worldwide. In Europe there is a legislation called REACH what is a good system to solve that issue. For the textile manufacturer at the end we need an independent sourcing tool for “safe chemicals”.

Do you think that the developing countries lack resource productivity? Explain.

The whole textile industry should optimize their processes more and more in direction of "Best Available Technology". There are many intelligent technologies available in the market, and in the field of green chemistry, we are making progress. Such an effort is not only necessary in the developing countries - also the rest of the world has to think about better solutions. I like to mention here also another important point - education! In the whole textile industry, we have a lack of education and in the same time, we should educate the consumer on more sustainable production that he is aware of these circumstances and willing to pay maybe a bit higher price.

What is the role of governments in providing solutions for EHS problems in the textile sector?

I definitely do not believe that the governments have a huge influence in that very complex textile business. I think that brands and retailers play a more important role in this field of sustainable textiles and that they have a huge influence to the supply chain. If the stakeholders like chemical companies and textile manufacturers, brands and retailers would substantially work together (e.g. Sustainable Apparel Coalition) in the supply chain. This way would be much faster and much more effective compared to a global governmental effort. Where the government could play an important role is in the field of chemical legislation or environmental harmonized regulation. A good example is REACH, the European chemical legislation. We would have the best effect when this legislation would be adopted for the whole world. Such an effort would help the whole textile industry to get on the next level of sustainability.

How do you think can consumers differentiate between genuine sustainable products and faked ones?

The way of trusted and transparent information linked with new possibilities to track a product will help to solve such problems in the future. In that field the NGO’s have also a responsibility to avoid with their independent approach such developments in order to protect the brands that are willing and engaged to bring the best product to the consumer. We will always find faked products on the market. Therefore, for a consumer it is very important that he can believe in a brand. Maybe the Sustainable Apparel Coalition has a great opportunity and can be the solution in the future providing the consumer with helpful information about a sustainable textile product.
Published on: 16/12/2013

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

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