PREFERRED FIBER & MATERIALS: INSIDER SERIES
Welcome to Textile Exchange’s Member Spotlight! Here you will learn about the inspiring sustainability work from our members. The stories showcased here are an eclectic mix of industry leaders speaking from inside their organization.The Member Spotlight, which was first developed as our 15th Anniversary Insider Series, has been co-created by the authors, and we at Textile Exchange have simply compiled the stories for our, and your, reading pleasure. We hope you will be inspired and moved by the sheer passion the authors exude for what they do. If you are a member and have a story to tell, please let us know.
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Chief Sustainability Officer, C&A Global
C&A recently introduced the world’s first Cradle to Cradle (C2C) CertifiedTM GOLD garments, a real circular collection of women’s T-shirts, which was available in C&A stores across 19 European markets in Summer 2017. Additional styles have been launched across Europe as well as in Brazil and Mexico in the fall of 2017.
Q: What inspired C&A to explore a C2C approach?
C&A believes that as an industry, we have an opportunity to move away from the current ‘take, make, waste model’ to a circular model. In practice, this means designing, developing and producing products with their next use in mind; extracting the maximum value from garments while in use, then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of use to give them another useful life.
Cradle to Cradle Certified is currently the most comprehensive and recognized program in sustainability certification. Its protocol envisions every resource used to make products as a safe nutrient in an endless cycle. C&A’s Cradle to Cradle Certified collection is an important milestone for C&A – and the industry – as it demonstrates unequivocally that creating circular fashion is already possible.
Q: What needed to be done to achieve this level of certification and what challenges did you face?
To achieve C2C certification, products are evaluated and optimized by an accredited assessor for human and environmental health, recyclability or biodegradability, renewable energy use, carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. MBDC, founded by world-renowned architect William McDonough and chemist Prof. Michael Braungart, served as assessor for this project. As a first step, the team visited the two Indian manufacturers, Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex, to develop a baseline assessment of their factories against the C2C Certified criteria. By using renewable energy, offsetting carbon emissions, practicing social fairness, and cleaning the water used in production, both manufacturers were performing well.
More challenging was the chemical side of production. We needed to submit the T-shirts’ Bill of Material (BOM) including process chemicals to the C2C assessor for an initial chemical assessment. Based on this, MBDC worked with us and our suppliers to optimize the materials and chemicals used.
We had to rethink the product construction and use 100 percent organic cotton not only in
the shell fabric but also for the sewing thread and the composition label so only biological nutrients are used in the products.
At the end of the process, C&A’s C2C Certified Gold products demonstrate the ability to be safe enough for home composting at end of use.
Q: As a first mover, why didn’t you use the knowledge you gained to your competitive advantage?
We learned enormously by developing our first C2C Certified Gold garment. But C&A alone cannot change the industry; we actively want others to follow our lead. This breakthrough is too important to keep to ourselves. The industry will need much more collaboration on circular economy approaches like C2C certification, including more brands agreeing to develop products for their next use. And this is why all our learnings have been shared through the Good Fashion Guide at Fashion for Good; explaining how Gold level C2C Certified products can be made so others don t need to go through the same learning curve.
Q: How have your customers responded?
We are pleased with the certified T-shirts’ commercial success and the reaction of our
customers. C2C Certified is a complex topic and difficult to communicate in consumer advertising and in our stores. The circularity of the product and its high level of environmental performance and social fairness were appreciated and understood by our customers. This reaction encourages us to continue on our circular fashion journey.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
By providing our customers with clothing that is safe enough to return to the biological nutrient cycle, C&A is empowering the public to affordably purchase organic, socially responsible products that fully respect nature. These T-shirts are the first step in C&A’s journey to circular fashion. We are committed to making more C2C Certified products and are currently working with our suppliers on the next set of products. Setting concrete targets remains challenging as there are many technical barriers we still need to overcome, for example, we are looking for printing inks, or trims and embellishments or technical accessories which can be C2C Certified.
See: C&A’s first C2C T-shirts
Website: C&A’s first C2C T-shirts
PHOTO: Jeffrey is holding a C2C Certified women’s T-shirt from C&A’s circular collection.
Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten
Acting Environmental Sustainability Manager and Circular Economy Lead, H&M Hennes & Mauritz Gbc Ab.
Q: What will your raw materials/
fiber portfolio look like in 2030?
We have set a goal that we will only use recycled and other sustainably sourced materials by 2030.
We want to prioritize the use of recycled materials and complement that with materials that have been sustainably sourced such as organically grown fibers, BCI cotton, bio based synthetics and plastics, GHG-based materials and responsibly sourced man made cellulosic fibers (MMCs) and animal-derived fibers such as wool grown to the Responsible Wool Standard (RDS) and down to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).
There are many exiting sustainable fiber innovations both on recycled materials and bio based alternatives made out of residues or other sustainable and renewable resources like, for example, grape leather and orange fiber that we hope can replace many of the materials that we use today.
I believe that the range of materials we are using in 2030 will look quite different than the ones we use today.
To fully move away from materials that are not recycled or sustainably sourced will depend a lot on new innovative materials that can replace the current material portfolio, and we definitely need to heavily increase the use of recycled materials.
Q: Tell us about the progress you are making towards circularity?
In the past year we have set ambitious commitments and goals towards circularity.
We have a vision of being 100 percent circular which means that we will have a circular approach to how products are made and used, taking a holistic approach to circularity covering our whole value chain from design to end of use and recycling. We have also set a goal to only use recycled and other sustainably sourced materials by 2030.
We have now started this journey and we are working on all the different areas of the value chain setting strategies, roadmaps and goals in place to achieve this.
Q: Is the 2030 target a deliberate alignment with the SDGs?
The Sustainable Development Goals are a good and important tool and framework for the industry. We use the SDGs as a tool for the direction in our strategy work. The recycled and other sustainably sourced materials 2030 goal is very much aligned with the SDGs.
Q: Will your collections look very different [in 2030] from what they look like today?
When we say that we will have a circular approach to how products are made and used we mean that we need to take a holistic and systemic perspective of circularity covering the whole value chain. This approach covers how we design for circularity, the raw materials we choose, the production processes we use including energy, water and chemical use and finally we need to expand the lifespan of the products making sure we keep the highest value and use through different forms of re-use models, care and repair, remanufacturing and finally recycling.
We need to make circular sustainable fashion attractive and easily accessible for our customers and we need to continue to engage with customers and other actors throughout the fashion value chain as all these actors are crucial for this development and for going from a linear and unsustainable fashion industry to a sustainable circular system.
PHOTO: Cecilia is wearing an H&M dress made with 70% organic linen and 30% mulberry silk.
Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness
& Carmen Gama, Remade Director, EILEEN FISHER
Q: Tell us how Remade In The USA won the EILEEN FISHER Social Innovators Awards?
Remade in the USA was the name of the final Capsule collection made by the three winners of the Eileen Fisher x CFDA Social Innovator Award.
Eileen Fisher partnered up with the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) to create the EF x CFDA Social Innovator Award, which was a competition open to 60 universities across the USA to invite three recent graduate students for a one year fellowship at EILEEN FISHER to figure out a solution for the damaged garments that are returned by customers through the brand’s take back program.
The three winners were: Lucy Jones, Teslin Doud & Carmen Gama. They were tasked with finding a profitable, scalable and beautiful solution for all these garments. During their fellowship they rotated through all the different departments of the company to get a 360 view of their operations and values. Once the rotations were over, they ventured to play and experiment with the mountains of clothing stored for them to find a solution. They came up with a system with the capability of scaling the production of making new clothes out of old damaged clothing. The final proposal was the
To fully move away from materials Remade in the USA capsule collection which debuted at a pop up store in Brooklyn in July of 2016.
Q: How has EILEEN FISHER benefited from the Awards?
This project puts EILEEN FISHER on the path to becoming a zero waste company and helps us achieve the Vision2020 goals.
Q: Is this the beginning of a radically different business model?
There are two ways to answer this question: for EILEEN FISHER and for the apparel industry at large. In terms of EILEEN FISHER, we do see this initiative as one that could ultimately lead to a truly circular business model. This means that, at some point in the future, all garments we manufacture would ultimately be returned for resale, repair or remaking into new products. Of course, achieving this vision depends on many things: (1) All customers would participate in this program by eventually bringing their previously-worn EILEEN FISHER items back to our store; (2) All EILEEN FISHER garments will be designed for disassembly and reuse; (3) the company will have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the volume; and (4) all the components of our garments (i.e. zippers, thread, buttons) would be reusable.
In terms of the apparel industry, this is where the real impact happens. If the majority of apparel brands were to aim for circular and find ways to incorporate it into their own business models, then we will have a chance of making a real dent in the volume of textile waste on this planet. We are making a sincere effort to prove the viability of this model. Other companies will also need to take a leap of faith.
Q: How important is it to keep operations local?
Keeping this effort local is certainly desirable. It doesn’t make sense financially or environmentally to ship used clothing around the globe (again) in order to remake it into something new. A network of local remanufacturing operations provides jobs, strengthens the local economy and reduces carbon emissions. That said, this could be a new commerce opportunity for developing countries that currently receive boatloads of unwanted used clothing.
THE RENEWAL WORKSHOP
Co-Founder, The Renewal Workshop
Q: How did you come up with the Renewal Workshop concept?
The Renewal Workshop came out of two trends I kept seeing as I worked in the apparel industry. The first is that the apparel is a linear system where we take new raw materials and make new clothes, but at the end of their life, there was not a good system for a completely circular economy. The other is how often I would be in a factory any where in the world and watch hundreds of thousands of articles of clothing get made and thought, how can this model be sustainable? There has to be a different kind of business model where we recover the resources already invested in the clothes we make and how can we decouple resource use from profitability. So we built The Renewal Workshop to serve apparel brands to solve both of these challenges.
Q:How does it work?
The Renewal Workshop serves apparel brands. We partner with them to recover value from their unsellable returns and excess inventory. The Renewal System takes discarded apparel and textiles and turns them into Renewed Apparel, upcycling materials or feedstock for recycling. By extending the life of products through the renewal process of cleaning, repairing, managing individual items and conducting quality inspections on the items, customers get access to not new products of the highest quality.
Data is collected on everything that flows through the system and is shared with brand partners to help them improve the production and design of future products. Renewed apparel is sold direct-to-consumer through renewableworkshop.com, in selected stores or through the brand’s sales channels.
Q:What sort of impact are you having?
We look at impact in two ways, the first is the impact of running a company differently to how a
traditional business is run and the second is the impact our business makes on the industry.
To the first area – we have set up the business such that we lead with our values in how we are structured and how we operate. Our management structure is one of self organizing where each employee has autonomy over their area of expertise, this allows for a more nimble organization that can serve the needs of our purpose and our customers faster. We also have embedded a strong set of values into our decision making process. For example – We manage our time by being present with what is here right now, remaining in the moment, and giving ourselves time to absorb and process. We allow things to happen in flow.
The second is our impact on the industry, in just a year we have been able to divert over 20,000 lbs of textile waste from landfill because of our operations. We see waste diversion as only one of our impact areas, soon we will see a shift in the apparel industry where sales can come for the same product allowing a circular economy for the apparel industry.
Q:What next for the Renewal Workshop?
As a new company we still have a long way to go to serve more apparel brands and shift more business models. And to be demonstrating the business case for an apparel brand to become a circular economy business. This is where we are focused right now, but in the future we are excited for the opportunity to start closing the loop on garment to garment recycling through strategic partnerships.
WESTPOINT HOME LLC
Normand P. Savaria
President, CEO, WestPoint Home LLC
Q: WestPoint Home has a long history and tradition in home textiles (over 200 years!). Has this longevity influenced the company’s approach to sustainability?
WestPoint Home has a longstanding history of environmental responsibility and sustainability. In the United States, we continue to lead initiatives for recycling and purifying water, repurposing waste into new end uses, and developing home textile products that are sustainable, safe, and eco-friendly. WestPoint Home has opened, managed, and partnered with facilities around the world, and we are proud our international facilities meet the same high environmental standards of our American-based factories.
Q: How do your customers influence your product development?
At WestPoint Home, the most important factor in developing new home products is listening to our customers. We are always asking what drives our
customers. We are always asking what drives our customer, and how products can positively impact their everyday lives. Many of our customers, especially millennials, prioritize sustainable, organic products, so we are happy to supply that demand with high quality, eco-friendly bedding and bath at reasonable prices.
Q: Do you see evidence that the customer is caring more about the sustainability of their home textile choices?
Consumers are increasingly savvy about sustainability in their home textiles choices. We notice that a greater percentage of overall product assortments are organic and sustainable stories, which drives pricing, performance, and, ultimately, increased adoption. At WestPoint Home, our organic textile products are softer and stronger than ever, and popularity is driving the price and demand dramatically closer to parity with non-organic product.
Q: What’s on the horizon for hospitality, public procurement, and other big users of home textiles? Any big shifts to more sustainable product lines in that sector?
Millennials have a tremendous impact on the hospitality and travel industry. Their desire for authenticity is a game changer for how hotels market themselves — from design to food and beverage service to overall experience, including the linens in the room. Coupled with millennial interest in sustainability, WestPoint Home’s attention to organic materials, laundry processes, and recycling options for hotel sheets and towels becomes very important over the next few years.
Many hotels are focused on eco-responsibility, and even hiring executive-level sustainability officers. In addition to construction and infrastructure, trending shows these officers will need to address water and energy conservation in the laundering process. WestPoint Home is proactively working with
COUNTRY ROAD GROUP
Sustainability Manager, Country Road Group
Q: Who is the Country Road Group?
The Country Road Group (CRG), a subsidiary of South Africa-based Woolworths Holdings Limited, is one of Australia’s largest specialty fashion retailers, operating five differentiated brands; Country Road, MIMCO, Trenery, Witchery and recently acquired Politix.
Q: When did your sustainability focus step up?
In August of 2015, CRG embarked on a “Good Business Journey” to further embed sustainability into the business, with a goal to make every product more sustainable by 2020. As part of this commitment, CRG set out to improve traceability through the supply chain and develop responsible sourcing strategies for all key raw materials – cotton, cellulose, leather, wool and timber.
CRG was one of the first Australian brands to become a member of the Better Cotton Initiative in March of 2016 and has been engaging with suppliers to set up strategies for working with BCI-accredited mills and sourcing cotton as Better Cotton. CRG also sources organic cotton for selected ranges and are working to convert at least 30 percent of its cotton products to more sustainable cotton (BCI or organic) in the coming year.
Q: What about other Preferred Materials?
CRG has spent the past year mapping its cellulose supply chain to get a better understanding of the risks associated with deforestation. CRG has traced 93 percent of total cellulose back to the fabric producer, with around 43 percent coming from Lenzing and Aditya Birla – the world’s first fabric producers to meet the CanopyStyle audit requirements. Furthermore, approximately 30 percent of CRG’s cellulose products were made from lyocell and modal fibers made from wood pulp sourced from responsibly managed forests and converted into fibers using manufacturing processes that minimize impact on the environment.
In response to the number of environmental and animal welfare challenges that leather poses, CRG has spent the past two years mapping its leather supply chain, with around 30 percent of leather spend sourced from tanneries accredited against the Leather Working Group (LWG) environmental standard. CRG is also a member of the Textile Exchange Beef and Leather Working Group, with the objective of partnering with a diverse range of stakeholders to address the complex issues within the leather and beef supply chain.
Wendi Goldman, Sustainability Champion and Chief Product Officer, Gap
& Nancy Green, President and CEO, Athleta
This spring, the leading global retailer Gap Inc. unveiled new commitments from two of its five brands, Gap and Athleta, to accelerate the use of more sustainable fibers in apparel production within the next five years. The goals were announced in advance of Earth Day last April.
Gap, the company’s namesake brand, announced a new commitment to obtain 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources by 2021. To achieve its new cotton goal, Gap will continue to partner with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). BCI works with farmers around the world to improve cotton production for the people who cultivate it, the environment, and the cotton sector’s future. The brand sourced 3.8 million pounds of Better Cotton for Spring 2017 product. Gap’s new commitment also includes the use of other sustainable cotton such as organic, recycled and American-grown.
We believe in actively protecting the planet we all share,
shared Gap’s Chief Product Officer Wendi Goldman, who serves on both the Gap Foundation Board of Trustees and Gap Inc.’s Sustainability Board.
For Athleta and our community, the Earth is our playground, and we believe it’s vitally important to protect it for the next generation,
Gap’s cotton goal is part of the brand’s Gap for Good platform for more sustainable fashion, which also includes saving water and reducing energy consumption, as well as educating and empowering women through Gap Inc.’s signature life skills and education program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement).
Gap Inc. recognizes the importance of improving the sourcing of cotton, which is one of the most water-intensive crops globally and impacts the lives of millions of people around the world; a significant portion of the fabric used by Gap Inc. brands is cotton. Collectively since 2016, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta have sourced more than 11.5 million pounds of Better Cotton – enough to make 7.4 million pairs of jeans.
Athleta, whose assortment predominantly features technical fabrics, announced a series of sustainability goals including a commitment to use fibers that are better for the planet: by 2020, 80% of the brand’s apparel materials will be made with sustainable fibers.
With our new sustainable cotton goal, we have the opportunity to make a big impact on the global cotton community, and bring to light what’s so incredibly important to the future of garment manufacturing, what matters to us as a brand, and what matters to our customers.
said Nancy Green, president and CEO of Athleta, who also serves on both the Gap Foundation Board of Trustees and Gap Inc.’s Sustainability Board.
With the use of more recycled and sustainable fibers, we’re working to lessen our impact on the environment and preserve the Earth’s precious natural resources. Using our business for good is central to the mission of Athleta.
Athleta has been working to aggressively increase its use of sustainable materials over the last two years by converting materials to recycled synthetics, organic cotton, TENCEL and Lenzing Modal. These more sustainable fibers are transformed into high-quality, high-performance fabrics in many of Athleta’s signature styles. The brand will meet its new 2020 goal through a focus on partnering with fiber and manufacturing suppliers on innovative solutions
In 2016, seven million plastic water bottles were diverted from landfill as a result of Athleta’s use of recycled polyester.
The sustainable fiber goal is one pillar of the brand’s expanded sustainability platform, which also setting goals to use more efficient fabric dyeing and finishing techniques to save water; to help empower the women who make its clothes; and also reduce waste at the brand’s stores and HQ operations.
As an enterprise, Gap Inc. recognizes there is more work to be done, and continues to explore new to address the raw material impacts of its supply chain. Most recently, in July, the company announced a new company-wide policy to eliminate the sourcing of wood-derived fabrics from ancient and endangered forests by 2020, partnering with the non-profit organization, Canopy, as part of their sustainable fashion and forestry initiative known as CanopyStyle.
Gap Inc. is also taking action as a global retailer to reduce its environmental footprint across its supply chain. By the end of 2020, Gap Inc. has committed to a 50 percent absolute reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its owned and operated facilities globally from a 2015 baseline, and to divert 80% of its waste in the U.S. Since 2014, Gap Inc.’s suppliers have saved more than 750 million liters of water– that’s enough to provide every person in the U.S. with one days’ worth of drinking water.
Chief Financial Officer, prAna
Q: What does a “preferred fiber portfolio” look like for prAna?
Currently, we define a preferred fiber portfolio as using the best practices in natural and synthetic fibers available on the market that use green chemistry. Lucky for us, being able to tap into the awesome service of the Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber Reports allows us to be mindful of our total fiber usage and the percentage we are purchasing, which is a key instrument that we use to set goals for future fibers. In the past, we have used a materials thermometer coupled with
customer insight data to strategize and prioritize the fibers we could use as a best practice on the market, and how to have the most impact. This directly influenced our ability to commit to 100 percent organic cotton and achieve it.
Q: Where are you now on your cotton journey?
This year we are excited to announce that our Spring 18 collection represents the last step in our conversion to 100 percent organic cotton. This has been a long journey for prAna ever since we learned about the impact of insecticides and pesticides on not only the soil, but also the farmers, for conventional cotton.
At prAna, we not only consider the best practices in the raw materials we use, but are also committed to hiring sustainable vendors to expand our values that all humans should be treated equally and have access to their basic needs. Therefore, we directly microfinance (See: Why Organic Matters — Sustainable Clothing Movement) an organic cotton farmer co-op in India that allows farmers to purchase cotton seeds and supplies interest free each season. This means the farmers can avoid high interest rates on bank loans, which have contributed to one
of the highest farmer suicide rates on the planet.
Our Spring 18 collection represents the last step in our conversion to 100 percent organic cotton. Our commitment to replacing all conventional cotton in our products speaks to the continued momentum of the Sustainable Clothing Movement and the drive to lessen our impact on the planet.
Q: How important are man made cellulosics for prAna and what are you doing in this area?
prAna’s journey to eliminate use of rayon/viscose was not an easy one and there were a lot of valuable learnings along the way that we would love to share with others. For example, how we devised a plan, built internal and external stakeholder partnerships, overcame challenges and obstacles, and streamlined the process.
At prAna, we are passionate about our Forest Fiber Policy and elimination of rayon/viscose because it directly supports SDG 15, and rayon is hands down one of the dirtiest fibers (from an environmental perspective) in the apparel industry.
Having a strong forest fiber policy means we are not supporting poor land management, deforestation, or illegal logging, which all ultimately impact biodiversity.
Q: What’s on the horizon?
A lot! We are always working to improve our internal sustainability plan that pushes us to constantly innovate and use the business platform for change, while at the same time holding us accountable on an annual basis. The ultimate goal is to create product that promotes a circular economy and ensures that we continue to serve the prAna customer by creating ethical product that promotes positive social and environmental impact.
Head of Innovation & Sustainability, Ecoalf
Q: What inspired you to dedicate your brand to removing waste from the environment?
I’ve been working in fashion my whole working life and I met Javier Goyeneche (the founder of Ecoalf) when he was just launching the brand. Here’s what happened…
I found out about his work just when I decided I was leaving the fashion world. I had come to the conclusion that fashion didn’t match with my personal and ethical point of view of how fashion should be. However, I decided to join Javier in 2010 and I’ve been working in the “soul” of the company ever since. Sustainability is in the DNA of the company. My remit covers sustainability, innovation, design, materials, processes…and so on.
Q: What role do your suppliers play?
For us, our suppliers are much more than suppliers; we couldn’t have arrived where we are now without them.
I personally work with them from the very beginning; they are very involved with our business and us. I work with the R&D departments, with the technicians and together we develop all the materials. I learn a lot with them! First of all I need to know them very well, understand how they work, what kind of productions they can do, what they do the best… Once I understand them and the possibilities, the technical strengths and so on, I help them to introduce all the sustainable innovations in materials and processes…. And basically I drive them crazy!! It is a joke, but it is something like that, because many
times I need them to stop the machines and start testing something special for me that maybe would not work. Or maybe yes… I can say all our suppliers are wonderful people and they have supported us always.
Q: Where is Ecoalf today with its collections and raw materials?
Our main raw materials are the recycled ones, basically the polyester is from PET bottles and nylon comes from fishing nets and pre or post consumer recycled nylon.
With synthetic fiber we get amazing qualities, I would say we have fantastic fabrics with a high standard in terms of quality and also hand feel, even in very light qualities. Now we are working with PET from the sea bed. In 2015, we launched our UPCYCLING THE OCEANS.
Through the fishermen in Spain we are recovering the marine litter from the all along the bed of the Mediterranean Sea (this is very important, no one is recovering it from the sea bed). Now we are working in 32 ports, with 440 boats and more than 2000 fishermen. By the end of 2017, we will have recovered about 150 tons of marine debris. We transform the PET from the sea into a polyester yarn that we use in our inner collections. We also want to offer this opportunity to other companies. We are really strong in
regenerated synthetics and that’s why we started with outer garments. Each time we develop new fabrics we add a new kind of product to our collection.
Now we not only have regenerated synthetics, we have regenerated cotton and regenerated wool as well. We are also adding other sustainable materials to our portfolio (so not only recycled) for next season (SS18) we will have Tencel and organic cotton as well. For next AW18/19 we will have a totally new look collection.
Q: And what’s next for Ecoalf?
Well, a very important KPI for us in 2018 is “cyclability”! We signed the Global Fashion Agenda Call to Action. We are working on nylon made from fishing nets, yarn made from Spanish nets. we are still working on this. Oceans are very important for us, so we are exploring more materials made from the oceans…nets, seaweeds, and chitosan… Let’s see!
CEO and Co-Founder, Bolt Threads
Q: Tell us about your product and where the idea came from…
We originally studied real spiders’ silk, to understand the relationship between the spiders’ DNA and the characteristics of the fibers they make. Today’s technology allows us to make those proteins without using spiders. Primarily our fibers are made from sugar, water, salts and yeast. No spiders are harmed in the making of Bolt Threads Engineered Silk™ fibers! In fact, there are no spiders at all in the process.
Q: Why it is this technology an important part of textile innovation?
We can tune our fibers at the molecular level, allowing us to design materials with custom performance attributes. Because we are designing an entirely new method of manufacturing fibers, we have the opportunity to make the most environmentally conscious choices at every stage. We look forward to reducing pollution in the textile industry, as well as solving end-of-life plastic microfiber pollution issues, since our fibers are protein based.
Q: What you have achieved and why it is different?
We are one of the first companies in decades to create a truly new textile rather than rely on existing materials like cotton and polyester. We’re very excited about the performance and sustainability implications.
Unlike PHA* for example, which is a polyester, our material is not. Our material is made up of protein building blocks, just like natural silk. Our protein-based fibers are biodegradable. There is not yet a generic name for our material, but our proprietary name is MicrosilkTM.
Q: Where is your material manufactured?
All of our production is currently in the United States and we plan to keep it here.
Making our products in the US, using domestically grown crops and manufacturing resources, enables us to create jobs and also eliminate some of the environmental impact of transportation.
Q: Any exciting news to share?
We’re thrilled to announce a partnership with Stella McCartney. We’ll be unveiling our first collaborative product, a one-of-a-kind custom dress made entirely of Bolt Microsilk™ at the New York Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”.
Q: Where do you see things going from here?
We hope to revolutionize the way textiles are manufactured. Since we’ll have complete control over our supply chain and the material properties of our fibers, we can make performance fibers, sustainably.
*PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoates) are a class of natural (not synthetic) polyesters that are derived from bacterial fermentation. Basically, microorganisms synthesize polyesters in nutrient-deficient conditions, and these PHAs can then be harvested.
Head of Product Development, Tierra
Q: Where did the idea to create a fully bio based product came from??
One of our colleagues did a thesis on bio based synthetics a few years ago, and we discussed her findings and ideas around integrating biosynthetics into our collections. During that conversation we decided to challenge ourselves with the idea of making as technical a product as possible: fully made out of bio based materials. Normally if you want to learn something, clear boundaries of what you want to do are needed, and you need to stick to the original brief.
Q: Why was this project important to you and the brand?
As a brand and product development team we are constantly trying to evolve, learn, and get better in all aspects of product development.
Q: How did you engage your suppliers?
After specifying what functions and characteristics we wanted in the product, the challenge was to solve that only with bio based materials. Some details that we take for granted in garments we basically had to solve in other ways because no bio based alternative was available. For example buttons instead of zippers and velcro, knots instead of plastic cord locks.
An important partner in this project is the Swedish weaver FOV who is making the fabric according to our spec with the Evo yarn. Also Baur-Vliesstoffe who is making the wool padding has been very helpful.
We also believe it’s important to have a good relationship with the garment manufacturer. We have been working closely with our Hungarian factory for a long time, and they know we sometimes want to push the development process further than other brands.
Q: You are becoming famous for your work in this area. Where to next?
The good thing about the ISPO and Outdoor awards and the following press is that now small manufacturers around the world, that might have bio based products and ideas that we can use in the future, have contacted us.
We will continue using bio based synthetics in future collections: both 100% and partly bio based materials. For FW18 we are blending in 30% bio based synthetics into the linings we are using. 30% bio based amounts to a lot less extracted oil when we talk about a fabric like lining that we buy a lot of.
The main topic when sourcing bio based synthetics is off course how the raw material is produced and where it comes from. Production methods and chemical management is of course equally important as it is with traditional oil based synthetics.
R. Nanda Kumar, CEO at Chetna Organic
Rhett Godfrey, Founder, Chetna Coalition
Q: In a nutshell what is the Chetna Coalition?
The Chetna Coalition is a collaborative value chain and sourcing network of nearly 30 SME brands and facilities cooperating for shared value and the long-term sustainability of Chetna Organic’’s 15,000+ cotton farming families.
Chetna Organic farmers are small, marginalized farmers based in the rainfed regions of Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Chetna Organic’s strength is collective action and fairness of the supply chain.
Q: What do you aim to do together?
Our aim is simple. We work together to grow the value of our fiber and the sustainability of our farming community. We seek year-on-year improvements in the quality, integrity, traceability, and transparency of our cotton and the sustainability of our shared farming community.
Q: Are you seeing progress?
Yes, indeed. We have increased cotton sales 4x. This is an important business parameter. We are creating enough demand for Chetna to be able to increase their farmer base.
We pay farmers a 10% premium, plus find other ways to improve incomes. For example, we organize seed pre-financing and coordinate purchasing projections for on-time procurement finance.
We recently launched organic cotton’s most comprehensive farmer data and transparency program-customized software “SourceTrace” and can track all cotton bales, and even finished goods, back to the Chetna farms.
Q: So how does all this great work scale?
This year, the Chetna Coalition model is ready for replication. We have a proven system, a paid membership model, full time staff, and custom software.
We invite others to join our movement to grow sustainable organic cotton coalitions around the globe.
In a constant search for new initiatives on its quest for a more sustainable fashion Industry Skunkfunk joined a game changer project where people and environment go hand in hand allowing the brand to have a positive and verifiable impact. Welcome to Chetna! Skunkfunk deeply cares about the people we work with. That is why we are part of the Chetna Coalition. The Chetna Coalition (ChetCo) creates community-driven, collaborative and sustainable business solutions to improve the lives of organic cotton farmers and garment workers. Thank you to the people that make this possible!
Mikel Feijoo Elzo
Founder and President, Skunkfunk
Q: Tell us about MetaWear in one sentence…
MetaWear is committed to authenticity, transparency, ethical production, certified organic and eco-friendly fibers, renewable energy and social innovation.
Q: What do you offer your customers?
Metawear was founded as a solution provider to propel the sustainable fashion movement forward. As the “intel inside” of environmentally-friendly and ethical manufacturing, MetaWear offers turnkey full package production of knit apparel and other custom goods.
We are the first and only manufacturer of Cradle to Cradle certified and/or GOTS certified apparel in North America.
Under our 40,000 square foot solar-powered roof in Virginia, we offer cut and sew, garment dyeing, tie-dying, washing, screen-printing and embroidery, using only sustainable fibers and materials.
MetaWear’s in-stock blank program allows for quick turns, low-minimums and flexibility for custom-printed T-shirts and other fashion basics.
Our multi-tiered platform of bronze, silver, gold and platinum gives our brand and retail customers the ability to meet their price targets. It allows for both partial or fully USA grown and sewn from farm to finished fashion.
Q: Is collaboration part of the MetaWear business model?
Absolutely. Our business model is built on collaboration. For instance, our co-branded initiatives include collaborations with the college market, major online retailers, spa resorts and fashion brands such as “Hanky Panky by MetaWear” and “Indigenous by MetaWear”.
Some of our circular innovations include partnerships with zero-waste designer Daniel Silverstein – where we send him our organic cotton fabric scraps for his high fashion designs. Another is the cut and sew we do for Thread International’s finished garments.
As a champion for regenerative organic agriculture and fashion circularity, we have also co-created products and market initiatives with a wide array of companies such as Li & Fung/Conscious Creative’s “Stubborn Climate Optimist” Mission 2020 T-shirts. (2020T.us)
Senior Director of Corporate Development, Patagonia
Q: Patagonia is a clothing brand so why are you so interested in farming and food?
The Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’, just offshore from my home state of Texas, is the largest ever measured. The drinking water of more than 210 million Americans is polluted with nitrate, a key fertilizer chemical that has been linked to developmental problems in children and poses cancer risks in adults. More than 50 percent of America’s topsoil has disappeared. “Conventional agriculture”, the root cause of these and many other environmental and human health problems, has left our planet in dire straits.
In 1994, Patagonia decided to switch to organic cotton throughout our line. This move provoked a fundamental change in our attitudes about agriculture. Taking hundreds of employees on tours of cotton fields, witnessing for ourselves the dangers of pesticide use and the benefits of organic farming, enlightened us to the many benefits of regenerative organic agriculture. We expanded from fiber into food with the launch of Patagonia Provisions, our in-house food startup, which has the goal of fixing our broken food system.
Q: What does it mean for agriculture to be regenerative?
Right now, many definitions are emerging about what it means for agriculture to be “regenerative.” Almost all of them focus on the land management practices, such as using cover crops, rotational crops, reduced tillage, and rotational grazing to increase soil health, but when we dug deeper, we found that each definition differs greatly, with some even allowing synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. We asked ourselves how a system can be regenerative when fields are sprayed with these harmful chemicals. Also, almost no existing definition addressed the welfare of the animals, farmers, or workers of the land. We felt strongly that before “regenerative” gets coopted like “sustainable” has, a high bar definition had to be set for the term, and a certification was the next natural extension of this.
Q: What motivated you to push for a standard for it and what will this mean for your company?
The Regenerative Organic Certification is the result of a cooperative effort among a coalition of change-makers, brands, farmers, ranchers, nonprofits and scientists, all with a clear goal: to pave the way to an agricultural future focused on enriching the soil, while valuing people and animals.
Our approach does not aim to supplant existing organic standards, but instead provides detailed guidance on how producers can establish and implement a regenerative organic framework that builds soil health. For Patagonia, Dr. Bronners, and the other brands committed to scaling regenerative organic practices within our supply chain, this means educating our partners on the certification and guiding them on the path to Regenerative Organic Certification. Because this is an aspirational standard, we realize this will be a journey for the farmers and ranchers with which we work, but with a certification in place, a roadmap has been set to move our food and fiber providers towards improved management of their land, soil, animals, and workers.
Q: What happens now?
Creating a certification is just the beginning. Regenerative organic farming is not a new concept, and farmers around the globe have been using practices outlined in the Regenerative Organic Certification for hundreds of years. We now need to educate brands and consumers on what it means to have the Regenerative Organic Certification label on a product. We want to provide consumers a label that ensures all the critical parts of an agriculture operation are addressed through this holistic certification, eliminating the confusion and greenwashing that occurs with the myriad of labels that exist on products.
To us, success will be defined by wide scale adoption and understanding of the Regenerative Organic Certification by farmers, brands, and consumers alike. In 2014, research by Rodale Institute estimated that if current crop acreage and pastureland shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions could be sequestered in the soil. One of the requirements of the certification is to measure soil health on a regular basis. Our hope is to demonstrate that by adopting regenerative organic practices, a farm is able to measurably improve the health of their soil and potentially sequester carbon, proving that agriculture can be a solution to climate change.
Head of Vendor Relations & Sustainability Non Food, Tchibo
Q: Tell us a little about your cotton strategy?
Cotton is one of the most important materials in our products and therefore a major focus in our sustainability work.
As we see it, there is no alternative to sustainability. In times of climate change, inequality and an increasing incidence of international conflict, the question should not be “Why are we committed to sustainability,” but “How can we make this happen?” Therefore, we have a clear target: a 100 percent sustainable business.
In 2007, we started to integrate cotton from sustainable sources into our products. From the first few products we have expanded to our entire assortment, including day- and nightwear, ladies, men and kids clothing as well as home textiles such as bedlinen and towels.
Today, 80 percent of the cotton in our apparel and home textiles comes from sustainable sources. The majority comes from organic cultivation (certified to the Organic Content Standard or the Global Organic Textile Standard). We also support the Aid by Trade Foundation’s Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative as a purchaser of CmiA cotton and as a partner in community projects.
Next to integrating sustainable materials into our products we also have a strong focus on creating more transparency and sustainability throughout our cotton supply chains. To achieve this we know that sector-wide collaboration is a key instrument to drive change. This is why we decided to join the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA). Jointly, we believe that we can tackle the challenges around organic cotton in a systemic and holistic manner.
Simultaneously we are working on pilots, building up supply chains from the cotton origin to the end product. Our partnership with the Appachi ECO-LOGIC Project is our flagship project in this.
Q: What was your “cotton highlight” of 2016?
Our cotton highlight 2016 was our cooperation with the Indian Appachi ECO-LOGIC project which led into our first ECO-LOGIC ladies wear collection that was launched in a March 2017 in a fashion show.
We first collaborated with the Appachi ECO-LOGIC project in 2015. Working with the project gives us the opportunity to not feed “top-down’” requirements into the supply chain, but to work from the “bottom up” from the cotton field to the product. We like to see us as a partner in the process, not as a top down customer alienated from the different parts of the chain.
What inspires us about the project is the strength, self-determination and independence of the farmers involved in the project. And, against that background, it gives us great joy to give farmers and their work, as well as all the other people involved in the supply chain, a face, an identity through our collection. It also allows us to pass on the value of their work to our customers, as well as their passion and the care they bring to their product.
Our first ECO-LOGIC collection was special because it built on the great quality and special value of the cotton. It was built on a modern and timeless design and reflected the inspiring interconnection between quality, design and sustainability. But most importantly: behind the collection are great stories of the people involved in the manufacturing of the clothes.
Q: Where next for Tchibo?
We are striving to close the gap from conventional to sustainable cotton and are looking to achieve the 100 percent mark within the next few years. This is the toughest part of the stretch, because now we have to find solutions for product types which are not so easily transitioned for a good mix of quality, sustainability and mainstream pricing.
Also, we want to strengthen industry solutions and innovative new approaches in the cotton sector. As an industry, we still have a lot to learn to have the highest possible impact along our chains. We need the space for trial and error and an understanding by the public that the industry will also make mistakes. The crucial thing is that we never give up to find new solutions.
And, most importantly, we want to bring the message of sustainability across to our customers more effectively. A sustainable world can only be created if all actors in the supply chain – from the cotton farmer to the customer – align on this mission. For that we have to find good ways of attracting our customers to our sustainable products.
CEO-Director General, Hilaturas Ferre/Recovertex
Q: Does recycled cotton generate more waste during production than virgin cotton?
The total waste percentage in the Recover process is ±15%, 5% in the recycling process and 10% in the spinning process. Not much more than when spinning virgin fibers, where there is ±8% waste. Most of our waste fibers are collected and going to downcycling applications (e.g. insulation).
Q: How does Recover’s recycled cotton compare to virgin?
We always say that Recover yarns are a ‘different animal’: to say that it is virgin or near virgin quality might give the wrong expectation. We are confident that Recover yarns are among the best quality recycled cotton yarns out there but we cannot claim to be like virgin quality – not only in things like pilling performance but also due to the recycled nature, our yarns perform differently in many ways (e.g. less shrinkage etc.).
This should be better understood by the market, and it is part of our journey to educate the brands/retailers and supply chain on this. Even though it is not virgin quality we are confident about 100% commercial viability, and performance is for sure good enough for apparel and other applications.
Supply chain (knitters, finishers) also have a great role to play in optimizing the quality of fabrics made with our yarns. We can for sure achieve a standard that is perfectly acceptable for the market. What’s more there are aesthetic advantages with Recover thanks to the unique ColorBlend process which is let’s us create incredible color effects like mélange and heathers and is as accurate as any other dye-system.
Q: How about when it comes to price?
We are not familiar with all virgin cotton prices globally. We are comfortable to declare that in general Recover yarns are fully competitive with virgin options. Important note is that you need to compare the price with dyed virgin cotton yarns.
Q: What about capacity and the potential for growth?
Capacity No issue. Potential for growth: very large!
Q: And to the future – will brands be feeding post consumer waste into their own new recycled products?
Yes, together with brands we can divert all types of cotton rich textile waste into Recover+ closed loop yarns that can go back into the brand supply chain.
Q: How much virgin cotton can we conceivably save?
I wish I could answer that question! Foreseeably, it could be ±15% percent based solely on the volume of wastage from cutting.
Q: How many cycles can mechanical recycling be repeated before it needs to undergo chemical recycling or downcycling?
2-3 loops, but likely more depending on product performance needs. With every recycling cycle we need to blend with supporting fibers so therefore we can always upgrade the recycled material of any generation with supporting carrier fibers. Of course there is a limit to the quality you can achieve after many cycles, this must be considered.
President, Hemp Fortex Industries Ltd.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the history of hemp?
Hemp is the most environmentally sustainable fiber. It was also the first fiber cultivated for textiles. It was used throughout history, for things like ship’s sails and artists’ canvases. The Age of Exploration and the Renaissance are filled with hemp; there’s a lot of romance to it. It’s also a beautiful fiber to work with, with long fiber surfaces that catch the light and a rich texture.
Q: Where is it being produced?
All of our hemp is grown and processed in China. We are a vertically integrated manufacturer which gives us stewardship over every part of the process. We source the best and most environmental fibers, spin the highest quality yarn, to knit and weave fabrics that are both fashionable and eco friendly.
Q: What trends are you seeing?
We are seeing advances in eco- processing all the time. In the market there is a new interest in hemp both in fabric, for its cache, and in active wear and workwear for its performance features; antimicrobial properties and strength. We are seeing a lot more acceptance.
Q: Is demand growing?
There is a lot more interest from mainstream fashion companies, outdoor companies and also workwear is a big new area. We see the market growing in apparel and accessories.
Q: What’s next for Hemp Fortex?
We are always working on encouraging more hemp crop production and appropriate mechanization of processing to increase availability and reduce cost to grow the market. Largely, the fiber is just little known. One exciting thing we are looking into is US-grown hemp fiber.
Supply Chain and Sustainability, Outerknown
Q: What drew you to using hemp in the Outerknown range?
Hemp has the vibe and feel that’s right for our brand, rich texture, lots of character, and it hits all of our sustainability goals as a fiber. Hemp naturally uses less water and no pesticides. Hemp knits have a tendency to have high shrinking, this can present problems during cut and sew, but we have good partners and they have been able to figure out the controls in manufacturing.
Q: How are you using it?
We use both knits and wovens primarily in blends with organic cotton. Some are blended with recycled polyester.
Q: What’s the future of hemp as a serious mainstream preferred fiber?
Hemp is a great fiber; it’s extremely durable and the textures are amazing.
Hemp has such a compelling history: It was one of the first fibers spun into textiles, it was used to make ropes during mariner’s times when sailing vessels were the main mode of transportation.
There is a certain mystique to hemp too. Cultivation is illegal in some countries, the United States included, although we’re trying to bring it back…
In January of 2015, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 525 and S. 134) was introduced in the House and Senate. If passed, it would remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, and remove its classification as a Schedule I controlled substance.
I don’t feel it will overcome cotton as a staple, however.
CEO & Co-Founder, Evrnu
Q: How did Evrnu start?
Evrnu was founded by Christopher Stanev and myself. Christo and I have deep roots in the textile and apparel industry, with personal commitments to innovate in a way that reduces negative impact to natural resources while at the same time growing our industry in to the future.
Q: Tell us how you are doing that?
Using state-of-the-art chemical regeneration technology, we have developed a process that transforms postconsumer cotton garment waste into high quality cellulosic fiber. Evrnu fiber can be functionalized to perform like a natural or synthetic fiber, and has significantly improved dye properties compared to cotton, polyester and rayon alternatives.
The implementation of the technology will help to preserve the textile supply chain by using minimal water and preventing greenhouse gas produced from garment waste going to landfills.
Q: So what stage have you reached?
This past year, Evrnu made significant R&D advancements in developing fiber properties, created new garment prototypes and formed several new partnerships with leading retail and apparel brands. Evrnu is producing fiber
on behalf of these brands in a pre-production pilot facility in the US. They will be steadily increasing capacity over the next year, with aims to produce 1 ton of fiber per day by the end of 2018 on behalf of their initial Early Adopters.
Q: What’s next?
So far we’ve created fiber and fabric with a range of profiles, including denim and microfiber. Our early adopter agreements with Levi’s, Target and other leading brands continue to grow and we’re building a test production line at our prototype facility and positioning to scale.
Head of Sustainability and Ethical Trade, Stella McCartney
Q: How important is viscose to the Stella McCartney brand?
Viscose is one of our most used raw materials for Ready-To-Wear (RTW) – women’s, men’s and kids. We use it to make our iconic “cady” and we blend it with organic cotton to create the lining for all of our outerwear and tailoring.
Q: What is a preferred viscose for Stella McCartney and how do you ensure your products meet this criteria?
We are proud to say that all of the viscose we use comes from sustainably managed and certified forests in Sweden, or sources that have been verified to be free from ancient and endangered forests.
In 2014, we started working with Canopy Planet and we made the commitment to ensure that all of our cellulose fabrics meet strict sustainability standards by 2017. In order to achieve this, we mapped our viscose supply chain to understand the risks, and partnered with suppliers that have full visibility of where their pulp comes from.
We are continuously working together with our suppliers and our production teams to monitor the origins of the viscose and verify sustainability credentials to ensure that no viscose used in our products is contributing to the destruction of ancient and endangered forests.
Q: What is Stella McCartney doing to lead the way in “greening” MMCs?
At the end of 2016, we became the first brand, out of the brands that made commitments with Canopy Planet, to achieve our target while continuing to use viscose. By making and meeting the commitment, we have demonstrated that it is possible to have a fully traceable and sustainable viscose supply chain that originates from certified forests.
Q: What’s next on the viscose sustainability journey?
We are looking into how we can better support conservation solutions and alternative feedstocks.
We are also investing in circular materials as these completely avoid the extraction of resources from our natural environment. This is a very exciting time for technologies that can recycle viscose textiles into virgin fibers and fabrics in a never-ending loop. This cuts down on water use, decreases emissions of carbon and chemicals, and preserves our natural resources.
Supply Chain Leader, Ramblers Way
Q: Tell us about Ramblers Way’s relationship with wool?
Ramblers Way is a sophisticated casual clothing brand established in 2009. We chose to focus on wool because of its innate sustainability as a renewable, agricultural fiber. We were fascinated by wool’s unique properties – moisture-wicking, odor resistance, and insulating in both hot
and cold weather – and sought to create wool products that could be worn comfortably next to the skin. Being in Maine where millions of sheep were grazed as part of a once thriving woolen industry, we recognized wool as a textile fiber. However finding the superfine, long staple fibers necessary to produce the soft, ultra-lightweight wool fabrics we envisioned was a challenge.
Q: How is Ramblers Way working with suppliers to achieve your goals?
In order to achieve our vision, including making our clothing from start to finish in America, we created a supply chain to meet our unique standards.
We hand selected each partner based on core capabilities and shared values starting with fiber, sourced directly from fine wool Producers in the West, to hands-on relationships with the combing and spinning plants in the South to smaller knitting and dyeing factories in New England. This supply chain means we support local, American businesses, forge face-to-face relationships with our suppliers and continue to develop our expertise in wool textile manufacturing. It is a strategy in which our oversight gives us full traceability, transparency and discretion of the process from start to finish.
Today, we still work with many of the same U.S. suppliers, but our fiber strategy has evolved to include certified organic wool and potentially Responsible Wool Standard wool. Ramblers
Way was certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard in 2016, and we use GOTS as an international sourcing strategy in order to ensure that the environmental and social standards we care deeply for are honored.
Together with GOTS, the RWS is an important part of our long-term wool strategy. We supported its development and we’d like to see RWS embraced by more of the U.S. wool industry.
Q: And what’s around the corner for Ramblers Way?
Because our supply begins with fiber, we own all the manufacturing outcomes – we are responsible for the byproducts and waste too. It’s fun to think through the myriad applications for wool. We’re currently working with Cradle to Cradle on certification of our clothing and end-
of-life potential and exploring approaches like textile-to-textile circularity and upcycling with The Renewal Workshop.
Ongoing challenges for Ramblers Way include innovating manufacturing processes to dye wool and make it machine washable without jeopardizing people and the planet. There’s always the “wool is for winter” obstacle too. Ramblers Way wool may be worn year round – of course!
Supply Chain Manager, Triaz Group
Q: What is Triaz’s involvement with organic silk?
Triaz GmbH supports a rather unique organic silk project in China. We have held 50 percent of the Chinese Company “Organic Textiles” (OTEX) since 2015.
OTEX produces organic silk in the province of Sichuan and makes clothing out of it in its own dyeing and sewing factory.
OTEX is the only producer of organic silk in China and makes 30 tons of silk filament a year.
Q: What does it mean for silk to be organic?
The organic silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms, who are fed only with organically grown mulberry tree leaves. The high quality and the pureness of the food has a positive impact on size of the cocoon and the quality of the silk thread.
Q: Besides no chemical use, what are the advantages to silk being organic?
At the moment a total of 203 hectares are organically cultivated within the organic silk project. The smallholder farmers not only breed silkworms, but grow di erent vegetables in mixed cultivation with the mulberry trees and rear cattle and poultry under organic standards. The organic silk project contributes to the protection of the environment in a country which su ers severely from ecological problems. In addition, the project brings a livelihood to 250 smallholders and helps them to stay in the countryside which is helpful because China has a huge problem with rural depopulation.
Q: Beyond organic cultivation, what else are you doing to improve the sustainability of organic silk?
OTEX makes fashionable textiles out of organic silk, which are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The sewing factory complies with the Fair Wear Foundation the code of conduct.
Triaz invites other companies with interest in organic silk to join them in the use of this unique product.
Chargeurs Luxury Materials
Managing Director, Chargeurs Luxury Materials
WOOL WITHOUT BORDERS
Established in 1872, Chargeurs is traded on Euronext Paris (stock exchange) in France and participates in the UN Global Compact with the United Nations. The activity of Chargeurs Luxury Materials (ex Chargeurs Wool), a division of Chargeurs, started in 1988 and their goal has always been to deliver the “best” at every stage. The wool combing division works with over 3,500 wool grower farms globally. Chargeurs has always been deeply committed to ecological and ethical standards from all points of view in the wool industry, especially animal welfare.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Federico Paullier; Managing Director of Chargeurs Luxury Materials. He says he has a “fortunate” history; born into the wool business and a family history that managed sheep farming. Next, he became a wool buyer at the ranch level and the family business was eventually purchased by Chargeurs. He joined Chargeurs in 1988, and over the course of 30 years in sales, manufacturing, and marketing positions, he has worked his way up the ranks at the company managing four combing mills, seven marketing sales offices, and wool sourcing from 6 countries.
WHAT DOES CERTIFICATION MEAN TO YOU?
From the beginning, we embraced Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). We help brands build and understand their wool fiber supply chains and demand for RWS came from them. All four of Chargeurs Luxury Materials wool combing facilities are RWS certified locally in the USA, and globally in Argentina, China, and Uruguay which is monumental. Chargeurs “Wool Top” manufacturing operations are strategically located to deploy wool around the world from every wool producing region.
In parallel to working with RWS, Chargeurs Luxury Materials has developed a wool fiber brand proprietary standard called Organica launched in October 2017 that will use Blockchain technology for absolute certification, transparency, and verification. Organica Precious Fiber is an eco-friendly merino wool fiber brand applying 40 years of Chargeurs wool sourcing and combing operations experience with full traceability. The brand was born out of the passion of our wool business.
WHAT RESULTS HAVE YOU SEEN SO FAR?
The outdoor industry is an early adopter; we have a shared value system that works to protect and preserve the environment, animal welfare, and the livelihood of workers around the world. It is in our collective DNA to do the right thing. We are the main wool supplier for industry leaders as Icebreaker and Smartwool among others. It’s a matter of time for more fashion brands to integrate this value system into their global wool fiber supply chains.
WHY IS CERTIFICATION IMPORTANT?
Certification guarantees integrity and verification. Chargeurs Luxury Materials has made significant investments in farm visits, training, and education. When we purchase certified wool, we pay a premium for it. The wool business as a whole is currently at a crossroads; the moment for making a choice has arrived. It needs to move away from commodity to sustainable diversity solutions.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
Now is the time to put a stake in the ground, we need to collectively move forward and deliver upon the sustainable goals that brands have made for 2020 and beyond. Cycles are long, and a lot of work is still required for a responsible wool fiber supply chain. Chargeurs Luxury Materials has made significant investments in doing things the “right” way and brands need to understand there is a premium to best practices all the way at the beginning of the wool supply chain and the manufacturing processes.
Barry A. Cik | Technical Director & Co-Founder, Naturepedic
Q: WHAT IS YOUR PROJECT OR INITATIVE?
Naturepedic specializes in the design and manufacture of organic state-of-the-art mattresses, mattress pads and toppers, pillows, bedding, and more for babies through adults. Our goal is to keep dangerous chemicals and toxic substances out of the home as well as promoting organic and sustainable lifestyles.
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOUR TEAM TO EXPLORE THIS?
Horrified to discover the state of the baby mattress industry when I shopped for a crib mattress for our first grandchild, I was determined to create baby products that were environmentally safe. That led to working with my sons and establishing Naturepedic in 2003 with the goal of developing quality products that met all the most stringent quality and environmental and health standards and organic fiber and non-toxic inputs. There were challenges, like finding a way to waterproof a baby mattress without using vinyl, perfluorinated compounds or other toxic chemicals, and finding ways to meet government flammability regulations without the use of chemical flame barriers or other flame retardant chemicals. We did much research and developed GOTS approved solutions.
Q: HOW HAVE YOUR CUSTOMERS RESPONDED? IS DEMAND GROWING?
We started in 2003 selling a few basic baby crib mattresses but now have a brisk, nationally-known business making state-of-the-art mattress and bed products for the family. We have expanded from catalogue to online sales, and have opened 14 stores opening in the last few years with more to come. Our customer base has expanded to include not only those with a particular focus on chemical-free products for their babies, but also the general public simply interested in the most comfortable mattressesand related products.
Q: WHAT’S THE SPECIAL ASPECT OF WHAT YOU DO? TELL US MORE ABOUT OTHER INITIATIVES YOU AND YOUR TEAM RUN?
We are sticklers to meeting the world’s most stringent standards. We buy our fiber from the organic farmers and ranchers in the US and around the world who work hard to produce the cotton, wool, kapok, and latex that’s used in Naturepedic products. In addition, our ingredients are non-GMO, and their organic status is verified by certification to the Textile Exchange Organic Content Standard.
We also have our inputs certified to the most stringent textile processing standards that exist – the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for the cotton, kapok and wool, and the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) for the latex. These standards strictly control the ingredients during the manufacturing stages, and ensure that workers throughout our supply chain are treated properly.
As well, we use only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood, and we use food-grade polyethylene and PLA, both from non-GMO sugarcane.
To help ensure tough policies and standards are developed, protected and expanded, we are active members and supporters of the Organic Trade Association, Textile Exchange, The Organic Center and the Sustainable Furnishings Council. Their staffs work tirelessly to defend attacks on the organic and sustainable name.
There is still much work to be done, and we intend to be helping every step of the way.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR PROJECT OR INITATIVE?
We focus on the recycling of waste bottles and devote research, development and manufacturing of recycled polyester filament.
Q: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT?
China is a country with a large population and 8 million tons of waste from polyester bottles are produced every year, causing great pressure on the ecological environment. It is of great significance that we recycle and reuse the waste polyester bottles to utilize the recycling of resources and minimize the impact of white plastics on the environment while achieving economic benefits.
Q: WHAT CHANGES WILL THIS BRING?
Haili is able to recycle more than 150,000 tons of waste polyester bottles (about 6 billion polyester bottles) every year, saving 180,000 tons of crude oil and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 600,000 tons, which brings environmental and social benefits.
Q: TELL US MORE
Haili has a complete recycling industrial chain of “bottle – piece – silk.” We set up a recycling system of polyester bottles and we own the fully automatic processing line and automatic spinning line.
In the past 15 years, we have been relying on our own research, development and innovation to regenerate polyester filament manufacturing technology, and continuously overcome the technical difficulties of regenerating filament. We realize the maximum comprehensive utilization of limited resources, mainly in the following three aspects:
- Turning waste into treasure, waste is misplaced resource;
- Equipped with a sewage treatment system, we achieve 90% waste water continuous recycling
- The solar photovoltaic power generation on the roof can supply 20 percent of the electricity for production and living in the park
Applied DNA Sciences
MeiLin Wan | Vice President, Textile Sales, Applied DNA Sciences
Applied DNA Sciences uses a system of molecular tagging to assign a secure identity to products and materials. Their molecular DNA-based identification system is versatile and can be deployed and verified at any point in the supply chain.
Starting out as a cash security technology, Applied DNA’s process has been tested and proven effective. For cash box security, the molecular tag will be sprayed along with a dye in the event of a crime. With the individualized tag sprayed onto the criminal, the unique molecular tag is usable in court as evidence to convict the criminal.
It has been a natural progression to branch out from cash security to textiles because of the similar fibers used for both. Now Applied DNA is being used to identify cotton, synthetics and other fibers throughout the textile industry.
Applied DNA is used to verify products across all different industries including pharmaceuticals, government and military, and personal care products.
Q: What’s the vision for what you would like to see happen next with the Applied DNA technologies?
I believe that our technology has the potential to provide full traceability to any material in a textile supply chain. That means it can work in cotton, viscose, down, and leather. It can also be included in a chemical finish that can then be applied to any material. This is important to ensure that chemicals used are safe, and true to their performance claims. New fibers and additives can also benefit from our molecular solution. The true vision is to provide anyone in the supply chain with traceability, transparency, and trust in the materials that they are using. It’s really simple.
Q: How do you see that dovetailing with standards?
It’s a natural complement to standards and to transaction certificates. All of those are important parts in providing the proof that what you say you’re doing is what you’re actually doing. Physical traceability, by providing a way to tag the raw material, will naturally follow the transaction certificates as they move through the supply chain. Ultimately those two things, integrated or linked, will provide more bulletproof data to the brands, manufacturers and raw material suppliers.
At the end of the day, everyone wins because everyone is actually using quality material that will be produced consistently and will give true authenticity and value to the brand and product. As we are all consumers, we then are all a part of the textile exchange. We want to know that the products that we are producing and verifying through the standards and transaction certificates have full traceability. It’s really hard to tell in this globalized world what is real and what isn’t real because everyone’s now wondering, well how do I know? How do I know what is real?
It’s so easy to just fake something and all of a sudden, perception’s reality, but you can’t tell the difference unless you’re actually tagging it, testing it and verifying it.
Q: Do you think this is the beginning of a radically different business model?
It’s a change in the mindset of doing business. That’s the radical shift that has to happen amongst all of us. Once we realize that we can’t be making products under the old ways of doing things, we will actually have to shift from looking at fabric backwards into the supply chain and start to look at it from the fiber or raw material forward. That means the brands become part of the equation, and they help work with the raw materials suppliers all along the way. Then they know everything that goes into their product. Then they can tell a more compelling story to the consumer. That’s where transparency actually becomes not just transparency for its own sake, but a whole part of the story. It can then become part of the fabric of the whole claim that the brand is going to tell.
The forward-looking brands that are starting to look into the supply chains are finding great stories to be told about the raw material, the people behind it and how the products get made. It doesn’t become just another product that we sell or just another product that sits in our closets. It actually becomes part of a story of why this product has meaning in our lives, why it connects to the core values of responsible sourcing. So then the customer is not just buying another product, they’re buying into the values of your brand.
Q: What are the main challenges for reaching scale?
I believe the main challenge, again, is changing the mindset. If you want to really bring traceability to your supply chain, then it is all about scale. It’s not tagging just a few items. If you’re going to tag a product and use our system, you can actually tag all of your material. If you do five million pounds of cotton, you can tag it all and then tell the story of how that cotton goes through the supply chain to be made into different products.
Scale is actually the way to go. I think in terms of any traceability system, if you can show that the tracer can be used in all materials, through the supply chain in different ways and is flexible, then I believe reaching scale is not so much the problem.
I think the bigger issue is in changing the mindset of how you use traceability to tell a compelling story and also provide supply chain confidence. Companies need to be able to prove that what they say they are doing actually is what they are doing.
Learn More at https://adnas.com/.
Sappi Dissolving Wood Pulp
Vice President – Marketing, Sappi Dissolving Wood Pulp
Sappi Project Grow (Project Khulisa) is a tree farming scheme aimed at rural subsistence farmers with access to small parcels of land. First started in 1983 with only three farmers in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the project has seen considerable expansion and success over the years. Project Khulisa is creating shared value by focusing on and enhancing the economic and social conditions of the communities in which it operates, while simultaneously enhancing its own competitiveness.
Q: WHAT IS THE PROJECT?
Sappi provides seedlings, using site-specific species for best yield while dedicated Sappi Khulisa foresters provide expert advice to growers. Sappi guarantees a secure future market for buying timber at fair, market-related prices. An interest-free loan is provided to cover input costs, including annual maintenance and advances are paid to growers for work carried out through the growing cycle. Collaboration between growers, contractors and Sappi is encouraged to develop and benefit the entire Forestry Value Chain (silviculture and harvesting contractors, short haul and long haul transporters, and other support services). Extensive training is offered to value chain, aimed at improving silviculture, harvesting, yields, life skills etc.
Q: Can you share any environmental or socio-economic quantitative information/data related to the impact of your work?
- The total area currently managed under this programme amounts to 33,000ha
- A 23-member, extension services team supports the growers
- More than 260 SMME’s have been established to support growers, creating more than 1,700 indirect rural jobs through the Sappi Khulisa programme
- In 2017, Sappi Khulisa provided Sappi with 14,7% (by volume) of its Kwazulu Natal hardwood intake, valued at US$25 million
- To date, since the inception of the programme, more than 3 million tons of timber have been delivered to Sappi by Khulisa growers, earning them a total of US$114 million.
Q: What inspires and excites you to produce/use/work with this particular fiber/material?
Wood as a base for fibre provides a renewable and sustainable feedstock for textiles. Trees through their growth phase produce significant amounts of Oxygen and form natural carbon sink. Tree plantations due to the number of years of growth before harvesting provide a staggering array of benefits to communities. Whether these be lifestyle (mountain biking, walking and hiking, birding etc) or providing havens for fauna and flora. In addition, plantations provide income generation benefits beyond just the timber. Honey hives, Mushroom collecting, medicinal plant harvesting to name a few.
Q: What are the biggest Challenges faced with this project?
At the moment small and micro-scale growers are excluded from FSC forestry certification because there is no national FSC® developed SLIMFS (Small Low Impact Managed Forests) standard available. Our extension officers work with growers to ensure that their plantings do not affect environmentally sensitive areas and that planted areas are economically sustainable. We are involved in an FSC-funded small grower research project studying various approaches to obtaining FSC certification for small growers. The objective is to make FSC available to small-scale growers.