Marchi & Fildi, based at Biella in Italy, produces a wide range of cotton yarns. Its smart range Ecotec transforms 100 per cent pre-consumer pre-dyed cotton clippings into yarns with remarkable water, energy and CO2 savings. CEO Massimo Marchi in an interview with Fibre2Fashion shares his views on the circular economy and sustainable performance of Ecotec since its inception in 2016.
What are your thoughts on the circular economy? How far has the global textiles industry reached in adopting this concept?
The circular economy is fundamental to the textiles chain, as it is an extremely polluting industry. It is becoming more important by the day, and at the consumer level as well. The end-customer is asking for traceability and sustainability in fashion; and this is great news because as more attention is drawn to the circular economy, more laws will come up. At Marchi & Fildi, the exceptional process in creating Ecotec yarns can be a direct opportunity for brands and retailers to supply their own pre-consumer cotton fabric and knit clippings. Marchi & Fildi will have the clippings transformed into high quality Ecotec yarns optimising a joint endeavour that targets a (circular economy) zero-waste position.
How do you regulate the usage of water at your units? What is the amount used at Marchi & Fildi?
The hydric consumption in the company comes mostly from the production of vapour, and from the climate control plants. With our new machines more yarns do not need vapour treatments, but what we still use comes mainly from our own authorised wells. We try to get as little water as possible from the common hydric system and we clean what we use. Our dyeing house mill can produce with 40 per cent less water than normal dyeing houses, and the water is purified after usage. To give some numbers, the hydric waste quantified in 0.31 l/kg of yarn are the same amount as the total waste of a house
How do you ensure sustainable production of yarns at your units?
The Ecotec range claims the Tessile E Salute certification promoted by Italian ministry of health, along with like Oeko-Tex 100, Certified Quality System Company ISO 9001:2015, and TF (Traceability and Fashion).
How have the responses been to Ecotec since the launch in 2016?
The response is getting more enthusiastic, and the project is drawing attention. Our yarns have huge savings on consumption, and brands, designers and technicians see the potential in them. They have been interpreted in all sectors, from circular, to flat knitting, from weaving for fashion to weaving for upholstery. Since the launch, several companies have decided to become Ecotec accredited partners; meaning they decided to start use and communicate Ecotec within their collections. Partners include: 3C Company S.r.l., Euromaglia Srl, Lanificio Comatex, Ledatex, Manifattura CBM, Mundotextil, Nalya, O'Jersey, RDD, Sidònios Knitwear, Tessuti & Tessuti Srl, Tintex Textiles.
Which innovative technologies do you make use of to reduce or curb the consumption of water?
The machines are fundamental; but also, continuous research on the process, new fibres and technologies remain key. We cooperate with research institutes like the Politecnico of Turin, which has an R&D project developed with us at our company (especially on water).
Do your yarns take into consideration the amount of water required for manufacturing?
This process transforms already-dyed textile clippings into a 100 per cent cotton yarn with record savings in water and energy consumption. Metrics from an LCA (life cycle assessment) study conducted by ICEA show up to 56.3 per cent reduction on greenhouse gas emissions, up to 56.6 per cent in energy savings, and up to 77.9 per cent reduction in water consumption throughout the complete process.
What would be your top suggestions to reduce water consumption and pollution in the industry?
Do not throw away textile clippings; use them to create something new, whether it's a new yarn or insulation material. These are very valuable products, and not waste.
Invest in innovation, new machines and new processes to reduce the impact your company has.
Re-use your own waste as much as possible, optimise your production and do not throw away your leftovers, find a way to give them value.
What are the challenges in keeping production processes and products eco-friendly?
Recycling of textile products is nowadays something that a consumer is looking at in a very positive way, but unfortunately the word "recycling" is too generic to explain the multiple varieties of recycling processes or materials. This means that we cannot define the qualities of these products. The use of a "passport" to go with products stating not just the composition, but also the origins of the materials and production process is needed. An LCA is something that could be of help. Brands and consumers are now more interested in recycling and the circular economy; but they do not have the right information to be able to understand the quality of a product from a responsible perspective.
By what percentage has consumption of water reduced at your units? By what percentage has this reduced manufacturing cost?
As we said, our dyeing house has reduced by 40 per cent the water consumptions with new machines; and we are reducing it in the spinning mill as well. Our yarns have huge impacts with savings up to 77.9 per cent on a 2000-litre water need for producing 1kg of cotton.
Has less consumption of water impacted the colour or any other attributes of the yarn?
Not at all; one uniqueness of Ecotec is the fact that the range is available in stock service in a wide yarn colour palette (more than 80 colours). A unique result.
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