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Responsible chemical manufacturing and fast fashion

In this fast fashion world, fashion moves motivating more consumption meaning greater business for all. And all these correspond to great threat to the planet and so the word sustainability is buzzing around to pull down that uncontrolled trend. Adding sustainability with fast fashion would ask consumers and all others in the chain for responsible behavior.

And this was what has been stressed several times in the conversation between Bangladesh Textile Today editor A S M Tareq Amin and Dr. Oliver Kusterle. Dr. Kusterle is an expert in textile chemistry with his long experience in finishing chemicals especially. Currently he is working as General Manager in Asia of a Germany based leading textile chemical company RUDOLF GROUP.

Dr. Kusterle was showing the new office facilities of RUDOLF GROUP in Dhaka to the BTT visitors, while he emphasized on the responsible behavior from all players in the value chain. He claimed that RUDOLF being a 90 years old family owned company still can keep its business sustainability because of its responsible approach towards the textile sector. He informed that RUDOLF also offers textile auxiliaries based onrenewable raw materials; i.e. products based on lanolin, clay or rape seed oil etc.

He added that RUDOLF believes in application based support for helping textile millsto become more sustainable, because many good products are not being utilized properly in its application in the dye houses and finishing mills.‘And that’s why we have opened our own office here with a group of experienced and trained personnel to support the factories and buyers here in Bangladesh in achieving better sustainability.’ said Dr. Kusterle while justifying the opening of new office in Dhaka.

As a chemical specialist Dr. Kusterle is the right person to ask about the road map of a number of leading global buyers called Zero Discharge to Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC). Dr. Kusterle replied positively and showed how RUDOLF GROUP can contribute in the road map. He stressed that to achieve the targets of ZDHC brands, textile mills and chemical manufacturers have to work hand in hand. He informed that RUDOLF has devlopeda breakthrough in fluorine free water repellent finishing with the introduction of BIONIC-FINISH® ECO .BIONIC- FINISH ® ECO is the introduction of hyperbranched polymers in designing finishing agents.

It is well known that Detox program of Greenpeace has identified use of fluorocarbons as a major problem and so created pressure on the leading brands to eliminate the use of fluorocarbons from their value chain. Many of the Detox brands already have decided to eliminate it and have made the road map for it.

Figure 1: Targets of Detox brands to get rid of fluorocarbon finishes.

Dr. Kusterle elaborated it and explained that in the past flourocarbon technology based on C8chemistry was mainly used for water and oil repellent finishes. Certain C8 monomers are closely watched and considered critical because of slow degradation in the environment and recent studies are raising concerns regarding the carcinogenic potential. The shorter thefluorocarbon chain(e.g C6) the less the risk is. Hence he illustrated the importance of understanding the full picture and stressed on the importance of putting right acceptance range for fluorocarbons. He informed that RUDOLF has both fluorocarbon free and C6 based fluorocarbon solutions. He added that fluorocarbon free hyper-branched polymers (patented by RUDOLF) based finishing agent still cannot fully achieve all the functionality comparable to fluorocarbon technology but those are good sustainable alternatives. There is an implication on cost as well. So the brands have to be responsible in designing product requirements. We are ready to offer all ranges of sustainable solutions. He added.

Table 1: Sustainability Vs. Performance of finishing agents.

Meanwhile Dr. Kusterle tried to illustrate RUDOLF’s competences in other finishing areas namely softening, moisture management technology, antimicrobial finishing etc. He mentioned that RUDOLF is an expert in softening technology providing full range of softeners from Fatty Acid Compounds to Silicone complexes. For a new era of hydrophilicity and softening performance RUDOLF designs silicone hybrid softeners which are a combination of silicone quats and micro emulsions. The company is also offering natural softeners based on lanolin and avocado oil. RUDOLF has developed a moisture management concept with the application of silicone and polyurethanes. Brands looking for sports and active wear can find a perfect solution with us, mentioned Dr. Kusterle. He added that his company has developed silver based antimicrobial finishes which are safe and perform well for hygiene textiles and other applications.

However RUDOLF is a company producing around 900 products and serving more than 2700 customers worldwide. Dr. Kusterle said that his company is serving the textile sector in sizing, pretreatment, dyeing, finishing, printing and coating with a full range of chemicals. He informed that though his company is a medium size one, it carefully invests in research and development to come up with smart solutions and also making sure best use of resources the company has. He optimistically expressed that RUDOLF R&D is serving the company well, helping it to be competitive over the years and to expand its business worldwide. Now the company has 18 subsidiaries and 30 partners worldwide.

While asked about Bangladesh market Dr. Kusterle expressed, ‘Bangladesh is one of the highest growth markets in textiles. We have been serving this market for the last 17 years, have seen a robust growth and are looking forward to great days and so we have opened our own office here to extend our supports to the industry. Alongside the local RUDOLF GROUP office our four distributors are serving great to our customers and we are looking forward to great future here.’

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