Interview with Olaf Rintsch

Olaf Rintsch
Olaf Rintsch
President of Textiles Division
Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)
Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)

"Sustainability is just a new way to sell your stuff." Please comment on this statement.

No, it is not just about product selling. It is a way of living and a thought that we should save our environment.. We should keep our environment into consideration in whatever activities we do.

Which are regions or countries which you think still need to do a lot in terms of increasing awareness about sustainability in the apparel and textile sector? What can be the possible reasons this has not been done yet?

I would not prefer to mention names of the countries, but there are definitely few countries which are not taking action against employee exploitation, usage of harmful chemicals in clothes, pollution etc. These countries should enforce laws to make sure that the products available in the global market come from ethical business practices. Sometimes there are political reasons why countries are not paying the required attention to the environmental issues.

What are the ways to eradicate sweat shop conditions? Do you think lack of education is the reason for this problem?

This situation can only be dealt with by the nations in question and strict national legislation. Our organisation provides best practices for its member companies and helps define supranational legislation that will then potentially be translated into national legislation. Better education and stronger national legislation is the answer to such issues.

What are the methods adopted by BIR to achieve its mission? How far the organization has been able to meet its goals?

We provide access to information via the organisation’s website, and each division organizes informative programmes for its members, which are mainly displayed during our bi-annual conventions, together with extensive trading opportunities. During my tenure as Textiles Division President, many interesting guest speakers provided expert opinions on a vast array of topics, such as progress on post-consumer clothing recycling, shoe recycling, sustainable apparel initiatives and the challenge of extended producer responsibility, and many more. In October 2013, we organised the BIR World recycling convention in Warsaw. Various topics of concern were discussed, such as further job losses in the British textiles sector and equally looming bankruptcies in Germany due to falling originals values and firm container space prices, the continuous problem of theft from containers in France and Belgium. In the framework of its upcoming Convention in Miami (USA), 2-4 June 2014, BIR is organizing the first International Textiles Recycling Summit in conjunction with the American organsiations SMART and CTR. This will bring the problems and issues of textiles recycling centre stage during this first-ever international recycling event.
Published on: 27/02/2014

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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