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Textile and sustainable development

26
Oct '09
Sustainable development, and more specifically taking the environment into account, is everywhere: in movie theatres (Home released in 2009; One day on earth in 2007; An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, etc.), in government (Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea), in catalogues and advertising posters, in car insurance premiums and soon to be generalised in our products through the environmental labelling of mass market products.

Several million tonnes of textiles are used every year throughout the world. This sector's responsibility relative to protecting the blue planet is a hard fact.

This is why taking the environment into account as soon as an article is designed (or eco-conception) is now the key to lasting production, particularly in Europe. In fact, existing regulations have obliged industrial companies to study this problem as upstream as possible. Strict standards on the different types of discharges (waste, wastewater, etc.) are pushing industrial companies to limit these problems at the source and not manage them after the fact.

Textile, integrated into composites, makes it possible to reduce weight while increasing performance. In Transport, it contributes to energy savings. In Apparel, companies are striving more and more to reduce waste (packaging, offcuts, etc.), use less polluting materials (this is the case for organic cotton), etc.

Tradeshows are also dedicating more and more space to Ecology and Ethics… We can cite Tissu Premier, So Ethic, the Premiere Vision trade show, with its recycling exhibit, and many others as an example! There are so many actions that it would be difficult to name them all! Here is an overview of a trend in motion!

Eco-conception is an overall approach that consists of integrating the environment as soon as an article is designed, from producing the raw material to the end of its life cycle
(Life Cycle Analysis -LCA). Initially, this involves identifying the environmental impacts at each of the product's manufacturing stages.

The approach then consists of identifying the “weak points” and proposing leads for improvement in order to reduce or even do completely away with these impacts.

IFTH has set up thematic events, such as the one organized in 2006, “Ecological, fair trade fi bres, what's new?” for companies. Since 2007, Innovation Report days have been organised in several French regions. These days allow IFTH experts, as coordinators of numerous national and European research projects, to present results to all the players in the Textile-Apparel network.

Institut Français du textile et de l'habillement - IFTH


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