Maglificio Ripa specialises in the production of knitted fabrics on circular and high-gauge looms. On International Water Day, CEO Luca Bianco, discusses the significance of reducing one's water footprint and the measures taken at the company to stay environmentally responsible.
What are your thoughts on the circular economy? How far has the textiles industry adopted the concept?
According to Elle Mac Arthur's definition, the circular economy is featured by two types of material flows: the biological materials which can be reintegrated into the biosphere and the technical materials which are to be revised and redeveloped without going into the biosphere. It will be a very tough route and full of imperilments too. We have been following it for many years now.
How do you regulate the usage of water at your manufacturing units? What is the volume used?
Maglificio Ripa has always been extremely careful in consuming water to the extent that in Italy it has been viewed as a virtuous case. Each single litre is consumed without any waste. The water plant is subject to constant checks in each single detail as also each water tap in the whole production chain.
How do you ensure sustainable and environmentally responsible production at your units?
Technology upgrade is the most important factor. The more upgrades you bring to a technology, the more sustainable you make it. Maglificio Ripa invests 10 per cent of its turnover in technological upgrades and sustainability, both in power supply and water supply. For example, last year we replaced all humidification and conditioning systems throughout the entire production plant. Over the last ten years we have reduced water consumption by 20-30 per cent by recycling and investing in sophisticated output and input purifiers aimed at optimising water reuse. Water is partially reused for dyeing while the generated heat is used to heat up the production plants.
Which innovative technologies do you make use of to reduce or curb the consumption of water?
The total volume of fresh water collected from the environment in Italy is about 33.7 billion cubic metres per year, and half of it (50.45 percent) is used in agriculture whose water supply comes from the water network only to a partial extent. The industry uses 22.85 per cent of it by mostly being supplied from dedicated collection systems; the rest (26.70 per cent) is for the civil sector whose water supply comes almost exclusively from the water supply network.
Water is essential in the textiles industry where consumption involves all production stages, from cutting to bleaching and dyeing. It is the industry with the biggest water footprint. We have adopted a self-assessment tool to determine our water footprint which would allow us to understand and establish where and how we can improve to reduce consumption. We have invested in the technology to be able to cut down on water waste and also recycle waste water which would then lead us to obtain and use excellent purified water. We are following the direction of the technology at the service of the environment, and in the textiles business we are among the most virtuous companies working on this.