Use of eco-friendly chemicals and more renewable raw materials in textiles, leathers and plastic processing are very essential that would reduce impact on the environment and play a major role making the world sustainable. Awareness and initiatives around ‘sustainability’ has brought number of changes in application of chemicals on textiles and so textile chemical manufacturing industries also had adopt those changes. A ‘sustainability’ seminar organized in Dhaka recently came up with some breakthrough solutions which can make real impact in changing the sustainability gamut of the textile value chain.
The title of the seminar was ‘Sustainability 2.0’. ‘Sustainability’ was supposed to be the integral part of the business not to be considered as an imposed prescription or requirements as per as the concept of ‘Sustainability 2.0’. As per the book Sustainability 2.0 by Ernesto van Peborgh and corresponding articles and developments around 2008-09 ‘Sustainability’ is supposed to the core of the company. All the decisions and strategies of the companies must be taken considering ‘Sustainability’. But the reality is ‘Sustainability 2.0’ created number of new regulations all around the sector. And till now the sustainability gamut is mostly centered to different regulations, requirements and certifications. Anything implemented as regulations, requirements and certifications don’t really mean that those have been done as self-initiative. Still there have been discussions whether the industries truly have taken the ownership of ‘sustainability’ or it is still an imposition.
The seminar organized by Britacel Silicones and Beyond Surface Technologies titled ‘Sustainability 2.0’ tried to find out the answers to the above mentioned basic questions. The seminar gathered strategic decision makers from the government, legislative bodies, certification agencies, textile manufacturers and chemical manufacturers. It has been a phenomenal place that generated effective discussions. Some of those discussions have been taken note by the leaders of the country and the industry.
Mirza Azam (MP), State Minister of Textile and Jute inaugurated the program where H.T Imam, Adviser to the Prime Minister was present as the chief guest at the closing of the event. Engr. Md. Shafiqur Rahaman, President, Institute of Textile Engineers & Technologists was the special guest of the event. Key decision makers of the government including Mahbubul Alam Hanif MP, Joint General Secretary, Bangladesh Awami League were also present at the seminar.
In the opening speech, Mirza Azam highlighted on several initiatives that were taken by the government for improving textile and jute industries of Bangladesh. “Government is trying to achieve duty free entry in different countries and opening the closed jute mills based on PPP,” he said. He gave thanks to the private sector with saying that “Role of private sector is not less than public sector.”
Unification and harmonization of sustainability governance system:
H.T Imam mentioned an article on sustainability from Textile Today and said to drive the industry to adopt holistic approach towards sustainability. He said that one unified platform for certification is better than number of platforms, with saying, “Legislations should be industry, people and environment friendly”. He assured the participants of the symposium that he would convey the symposium’s message to the Prime Minister.
Prior to the closing speeches of H.T Imam, the seminar discussed the necessity of aligning the set of regulations and certifications the factories now had to comply. In Panel Discussion at the seminar speakers echoed that dealing with ambiguous and never ending requirements of certificates to prove the compliance towards sustainability is against the spirit of ‘Sustainability 2.0’. In an ideal case the production units will become responsible and sustainable only because of the market forces. When the consumers and corresponding retailers will align them in a sustainable manner its positive impact will naturally come down to the manufacturers and their production will also be sustainable.
The panel also opined that maintaining numerous set of regulations and certification is tiring and expensive, this at the end of put enormous negative pressure on the concept ‘sustainability’. The current system always proves that ‘sustainability’ is a liability not an opportunity. But all the panel members agreed that sustainability must be considered as opportunity. And so they urged to the government and other stakeholders to make a common platform for certification as it could reduce extra cost and hassles. And so the ‘sustainability’ will be well defined and understood by all in a same fashion. The ‘system of governance’ has to be unified and identified they proposed. The chief guest of the event H.T Imam also agreed on this and asked all concerned to work on this to align the local and global sustainability requirements.
Engr. Md. Shafiqur Rahaman, President, ITET, Managing Director, HAMS Group, Shaheen Mahmud, Chairman, Cotton Group, Engr. Salim Reza, Executive Director, Devine Textiles, Ketan Deshi, Managing Director, Britacel Silicones Ltd, Mathias Foessel CEO, Beyond Surface Technologies were the panelists in the session. Tareq Amin, Editor & Publisher, Textile Today was moderating the session.
Sustainability from the perspective of certifying bodies
The seminar got a unique composer because of the inclusion of speakers from leading sustainability certification and initiatives. Rashmi Naidi, Ex. Technical Director from REACH support rightly has mentioned that if the textile manufacturers who are exporting to Europe can have a careful look on the REACH requirements it is easy to comply. REACH is the European Commission regulation which aims to improve protection of health and environment by the process registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. Sumit Gupta, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Representative in India & Bangladesh highlighted the achievements of GOTS in the region. He informed that Bangladesh is a thirst market for GOTS certification. GOTS has got highest growth in Bangladesh in 2016. GOTS is the standard that can help identifying certain products produced organically. Prashant Pote, Customer Relationsip Manager, BlueSign gave his presentation on Bluesign. Bluesign is getting popular everyday not only for the textile dyes and chemicals manufacturers but also for the textile processing mills.
Prashant presented how textile dyeing and finishing companies can achieve Bluesign certificates and can gain advantage for them. Prasad Pant, CEO-Nimkartek told that all the sustainability interventions must be financially viable for the factories. Nimketerk is the training provider for the ZDHC process.
From the session, it has been understood that to take proper benefit out from the regulating and certification agencies a careful look is required. Though as per the concept of ‘sustainability 2.0’ the interventions were supposed to be self-driven and no other force supposed to be needed, the industry certifications always helped to gain recognition from the market. If no premium could be achieved from the certificates, companies feel pressure because of the extra burden and load. Currently textile manufacturing companies and the dyestuffs and chemicals manufacturing companies are under pressure to comply a lot of regulations and requirements and this is increasing cost on them. In many cases they don’t get the premium out of them.
A speaker in the seminar told that usually the industry has seen that Sustainability seminars have been organized by donor agencies, government of regulatory companies. Normally chemical companies get scared of such discussion and try to avoid engaging much with sustainability discussions. But here unusually two chemical companies called Britacel Silicones and Beyond Surface Technologies took the courage and asked critical sophisticated sustainability questions to the industry. Reason behind the unusual step from the two companies could be understood when they presented their chemical solutions at the end of the seminar. Both the companies presented their breakthrough solutions taking care of the three sustainability pillars of Economic, Environmental and Social. The core objective of the seminar then understood well. And that is asking a collaborative effort from all counterparts in the sustainability spectrum. Both the chemical companies expressed their confidence that they are well in position to make textiles and textile manufacturing sustainable by providing necessary chemical solutions.
Britacel silicones- sustainability at core
Britacel Silicones Ltd started its journey in 1989 with the vision “ONE UP in finishing of textile EVERY TIME” and for quality it follows ISO 9001-2008 system. Arindam Choudhuri, Head of Technical, Britacel Silicones ltd. presented his company’s solutions and services to the audience. Britacel has grown today to whopping 18,000 tons/year of Silicones and other textile auxiliaries’ production. Over a period, textile market has placed Britacel as one of trusted vendor. Mr. Arindam Choudhuri said, “If the industry has sustainable input, the output will be safer for the environment and we (Britacel Silicones ltd) always try to put something non-hazardous, sustainable and safer alternative of chemicals for the textile operation. So that, our end users have less risk in the ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant), water discharge does not contain least possible hazardous things for the environment”. He also said, “To adopt sustainability 2.0 concept is not possible without joint effort. It needs effort from government, certification body, chemical manufacturer and the end users.”
Beyond- Renewable raw materials for finishing chemicals
Beyond Surface Technologies Ag was established in 2008 to design better chemistry for textiles. It develops products that reduce the impact of textile chemical finishes on the environment. The company seeks to either fully or significantly replace synthetic crude oil based raw materials with renewable ones. In addition, wherever possible, they include bio waste stream components in their formulations too. ‘On green textile chemistry’ was the title of Mr. Mathias Foessel’s speech where he highlighted Beyond Surface Technologies’s mission to create textile chemicals having the lowest possible impact on the environment without compromising on performance. He explained how their technologies help to ensure sustainability. He said that they were working with renewable rather than finite raw materials typically allowed them to provide products with a lower carbon footprint as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing hazards upfront is our approach versus trying to control them subsequently in an industrial environment, he added.
Digital printing allowing more and more fashion customization
Swiss Performance Chemicals Ag (SPC) was founded in 2006 by industry specialized in delivering novel products with outstanding performance for the emerging Digital Printing Markets. Thomas Heger, Director, Swiss Performance Chemicals Ag said to Textile Today that SPC is a leader in the development of innovative chemistries, driving the adoption of digital production in textile printing and customized inks for special materials and applications. SPC’s strategy is to provide high quality inks globally, ensuring the best cost of ownership to make their customers’ digital production viable and sustainable. In his presentation, Mr. Thomas highlighted the positive aspects of the digital inks and digital printing uses. He showed how digital inks and digital printing are less harmful for the environment and how it could help in sustainability. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), by 2020, some 15 percent of clothing purchase in America will be customized for fit, color or style, so that, digital inks and digital printing could play an effective role as this allow the final end customization very easily.
Active participation of stakeholders
As mentioned above the seminar got tremendous participation from most of the stakeholders of the industry. Besides factories number of brands also joined the seminar. Participants highlighted on the importance and impact of green initiatives across the textile value chain. They called for fewer natural resources to keep it for the next generation and give a cushion to the earth, as climate change has become a burning issue.
A representative from a renowned brand told that ‘sustainability should not be treated as an obligation, which will increase cost of a company rather it should be understood that it can brought up enormous opportunities if a company adopt holistic approach to sustainability.’ For Bangladesh, the second largest Ready Made Garments (RMG) exporter to the world, it has come as an idea to not only reduce risk for future but also identify and capitalize opportunities.
To do well, we have to do actually something to create transparency on raw materials. Stop accepting inherent risk and start learning sustainability approach from other industries, experts suggested. Our Moto is to produce safe green chemicals with lower resources using new raw materials for supporting zero waste initiatives, said the sector people. In future, we should think about chemicals which easily biodegradable and that are recyclable and won’t impact environment, they added.
Sustainability means responsible management of resources to meet present needs in textile processing field without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The chemical suppliers urged to eliminate risks besides controlling the residue ones. With the time the synthetic chemical industries changes its shape & size with new revolution for the continuous demand on textile, leather and plastic processing industries, they added.
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