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Used textiles Photo: bvse textile recycling association
20.05.2020

Corona-virus pushes Used Textiles Industry into Struggle for Survival

The measures to reduce the propagation speed of the COVID-19 epidemic require hourly new and flexible adjustments to system processes and business agreements. In these difficult times, the waste textile companies rely on a close solution-oriented dialogue with their contract partners.

The initiatives presented a common vision for social protection and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis at the end of April.
 
The members of the board of directors at bvse textile recycling raise the alarm because the economic starting point for companies in the sector pf used textile is getting worse every day.
 
"An increasing number of sorting systems are applying for short-time work due to the corona crisis or are closing the factories completely due to quarantine measures," Martin Wittmann, the bvse vice president and chairman of the bvse textile recycling association, describes the current situation.

The measures to reduce the propagation speed of the COVID-19 epidemic require hourly new and flexible adjustments to system processes and business agreements. In these difficult times, the waste textile companies rely on a close solution-oriented dialogue with their contract partners.

The initiatives presented a common vision for social protection and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis at the end of April.
 
The members of the board of directors at bvse textile recycling raise the alarm because the economic starting point for companies in the sector pf used textile is getting worse every day.
 
"An increasing number of sorting systems are applying for short-time work due to the corona crisis or are closing the factories completely due to quarantine measures," Martin Wittmann, the bvse vice president and chairman of the bvse textile recycling association, describes the current situation.

The amount of used clothing collected in Germany is declining sharply in many regions along with increasing social distancing, existing or expected curfew and associated closings of collection points and civic amenity sites.

"It looks even bleaker on the sales side. In the meantime, measures ordered worldwide, such as curfews and ban on meetings, prevent the opportunities to even generate any revenue. Due to official orders, second-hand shops have to close everywhere, including in Eastern Europe. This means that the demand for used clothing dries up almost completely.
The African markets are also suffering from the corresponding lack of demand, due to the lack of funds available from local consumers.

The markets necessary for the sale of sorted goods have collapsed globally since mid-March 2020. It is currently not possible to market wearable second-hand clothing, but also products in the recycling and cleaning rag segment. Thus, there are currently no prospects for generating revenue in the end customer area.
Since the transit time of a piece of used textile from the collection to the sorting to the final marketing in one of the global markets can take up to four months, this situation will certainly take just as long because a positive change in the current overall pandemic situation cannot be assumed.

The waste disposal companies active in Germany in the field of used textiles are therefore currently concerned only with maintaining the operational structures in order to find ways at a later time to be able to fulfill the previous agreements.

"What we urgently need now are common, fair and economically sound solutions with all of our contractual partners so that both sides can survive this crisis. The situation in many municipal, charitable and private places currently looks like that we maintain the services of waste collection and recycling at high costs, but currently do not know whether we will be compensated for this due to force majeure,” stated Wittmann.   

As a start, some companies in the industry have therefore already concluded agreements with municipalities. In return for a provisional suspension of payment obligations for the rental of container spaces or collected goods, the private companies want to do everything possible to ensure that the recycling of used clothes and cleaning of the collection points in the interest of the com-mon good, despite their own staff shortages and difficult conditions remains guaranteed.

“At the same time, we would like to appeal to everyone involved that there is understanding for late pick-ups and container empties caused by the crisis. We urge the citizens not to put any collectibles next to the containers. As long as we have enough staff, every container will be emptied,” promised Martin Wittmann, Vice President of the bvse.

12.05.2020

TEXTILE INITIATIVES INVITE GOVERNMENTS AND ENTERPRISES TO ACT

In a joint declaration, ten initiatives and organizations working for better working conditions in the textile industry call on governments and textile companies to take urgent action in the corona crisis.
End of April, the initiatives presented a common vision for social security and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis.
 
In the joint statement AGT, amfori, Better Buying, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear Foundation, ETI Norway and ETI UK, IDH, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and Solidaridad expressed deep concern for the health and livelihoods of millions of workers in the clothing industry and their families.
 
Covid-19 is having a devastating impact on the global textile industry. Most factory workers earned too little to care adequately for themselves and their families. As social security systems are lacking in many countries, the current crisis has hit these people particularly hard.

In a joint declaration, ten initiatives and organizations working for better working conditions in the textile industry call on governments and textile companies to take urgent action in the corona crisis.
End of April, the initiatives presented a common vision for social security and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis.
 
In the joint statement AGT, amfori, Better Buying, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear Foundation, ETI Norway and ETI UK, IDH, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and Solidaridad expressed deep concern for the health and livelihoods of millions of workers in the clothing industry and their families.
 
Covid-19 is having a devastating impact on the global textile industry. Most factory workers earned too little to care adequately for themselves and their families. As social security systems are lacking in many countries, the current crisis has hit these people particularly hard.

Workers need aid funds
In their letter to the governments in the producing countries, the initiatives and organizations appeal to protect the incomes and health of the workers and to support employers in this task: “The factories must pay wages and salaries on time to ensure the workers who remain actively employed. "

If factories have to close temporarily, it should be a top priority for all concerned to support the workers directly or to help them access financial ressources. This is the only way they can bridge the time while they cannot work.

Governments of the importing countries and multilateral organizations should also act now. In addition to providing support for retail and brand companies, they should also provide aid funds for people in the producing countries.

Seven of the ten initiatives and organizations are member-based and represent around 2,000 retail and brand companies that are currently facing immense challenges. Despite the dramatic situation, companies are required to comply with their due diligence requirements and to find solutions together with their business partners. The declaration contains a list of important points that textile companies worldwide should consider.
This includes:  

  • Companies should support factories to implement the necessary security measures to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Orders that have already been completed and are in production should be paid in full if possible.
  • Companies are advised to avoid the termination of planned orders.
  • They should be flexible when factories have to change delivery times and / or change payment methods.
  • They should not end business relationships without first looking for alternatives with their local partners.

Rehearsal for the future
Urgent action is now necessary in the crisis. But long-term systemic improvements in textile supply chains should already be considered and shaped. Fair payment and partnership-based cooperation between retailers, brands and suppliers should become the “new normal” after the crisis and are just as important as social security.    

"The current situation also offers the opportunity to make social security systems more sustainable so that times of unemployment do not immediately threaten the existence of workers," the statement said. The initiatives and organizations are also working on additional recommendations to support companies and other actors in the post-crisis period.

The text of the declaration is available for separate download.

Source:

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Bild: Christine Sponchia auf Pixabay
05.05.2020

COVID-19: German Down and Feather Industry exemplary in Terms of Hygiene

  • Update on the economic situation of the industry
  • Supply availability secured for the next half-year
  • E-commerce wins in the crisis
  • Sector survey of the Association of the German Down and Feather Industry VDFI and Traumpass e.V. on the occasion of the Corona crisis

The corona pandemic not only poses great challenges for each and every one of us, but also for our businesses as an industry. The decisions of the Federal Government and the federal states to close down shops and restrict freedom of mobility have hit the predominantly medium-sized down and feather industry hard, not only on the sales side, but also through their trading partners. The declining demand was compounded by the industry's international dependencies within the supply chains, since the filling material, the covers and the packaging materials are largely imported.

  • Update on the economic situation of the industry
  • Supply availability secured for the next half-year
  • E-commerce wins in the crisis
  • Sector survey of the Association of the German Down and Feather Industry VDFI and Traumpass e.V. on the occasion of the Corona crisis

The corona pandemic not only poses great challenges for each and every one of us, but also for our businesses as an industry. The decisions of the Federal Government and the federal states to close down shops and restrict freedom of mobility have hit the predominantly medium-sized down and feather industry hard, not only on the sales side, but also through their trading partners. The declining demand was compounded by the industry's international dependencies within the supply chains, since the filling material, the covers and the packaging materials are largely imported. The closure of the borders within Europe and the overall tense global logistics situation contributed significantly to the worsening of the situation.
 
In the past few days, the federal and state governments have started cautious attempts to ease the contact bans and to revive the economy with a sense of proportion. The opening of shops and the continuation of business activities prompted the down and feather associations to question the status quo of the sector with an extensive survey.

Although the companies named significant losses in their turnover, they currently still got off relatively lightly compared with other sectors. Two thirds of the companies stated that they had suffered up to 25% sales losses due to the corona crisis. Approximately 17% reported a decline of up to 50%, the ones with same percentage were much harder hit with a decline of up to 75%.

On the occasion of Heimtextil in January 2020, the association's sector statement had described the position of the specialised trade as still stable from the bedding manufacturers' point of view: By expanding the range of services, such as cleaning down and feathers or refilling existing bedding, the local store was increasingly becoming a point of contact for consumers. Supporting the advisory competence and the deployment of sleep experts made an impact. This picture has changed significantly as a result of the contact ban:

The clear loser in terms of demand on the various sales channels, caused by the shop closures, was the traditional retail: 92% of the surveyed manufacturing companies registered declining demand for the retail trade, 90% for the furniture trade and 80% for the specialty stores. Even for the discounters, whose opening hours were not affected, 33% noted a drop in demand; 44% estimated the demand situation as unchanged. The winner in the crisis was the e-commerce, although perhaps to a lesser extent than expected: 45% of the German down and feather producers recorded an increase in demand, 36% estimated the level as unchanged.

In terms of supply capability, the industry in Germany considers itself as well positioned: Two thirds see no bottlenecks for the fulfilment of closed contracts within the next three months, and the majority also offers free capacities beyond that. And 55% guarantee this ability to deliver even for the next six months, including the satisfaction of additional requirements.

While 2019 was a year of consolidation for the German down and feather sector and, after difficult months with sharply increased raw material prices, a calming down on a high level prevailed, good results from the previous year were maintained and, in some cases, even increased, the assessment for 2020 is much more pessimistic.

As far as the price situation for the coming autumn/winter season is concerned, member companies were correspondingly cautious in their forecasts.    
The unresolved and in some cases very fragile situation in the supplier countries currently not allows to make reliable statements. At the earliest in late summer, a well-founded opinion can be obtained. Especially since 45% of the companies expect to be confronted with requests for price reductions.
 
The down and feather industry is a professional when it comes to hygiene. The highest purity requirements are placed on down and feathers: Before being used as filling material, they must be cleaned by thorough water washing and dried at a temperature of at least 100°C, usually higher. This ensures that bedding meets the hygiene requirements of European Standard EN 12935 with reliably killing bacteria, viruses and other germs. In addition to the applicable standards, the companies have taken additional precautions to protect employees, trade partners and consumers.

In addition to the intensive workplace and hand disinfection, which all manufacturers have increased, the companies focused particularly on the equalization of the workforce. 73% designed home office workplaces for employees outside production, 45% introduced strict shift separation, two thirds shifted working hours and changed the use of common rooms in order to have as few employees as possible in the company at the same time and thus minimized the risk of infection. At the same time, many companies started the production of mouth and nose masks and made their sewing facilities available for this purpose. A list of the manufacturing companies is available from the Association of the German Down and Feather Industry VDFI e.V.

With the start of the lockdown, the German government had announced extensive financial aid, which focused on bridging payments for small businesses, granting loans, short-time work and tax deferrals. Improvements had to be made for small and medium-sized enterprises. In the recent weeks, the sector has not primarily addressed the question for bridging loans nor reducing the interest burden; emergency aid in the form of financial injections and non-repayable grants was also of interest only to one third. The majority of the association members concentrated on measures to secure liquidity (45%), tax deferrals and the suspension of advance payments of VAT (73%) as well as the changeover to short-time work (73%) and the accelerated processing and granting of short-time work compensation (45%). Also, two thirds requested binding statements on the easing of the contact ban and on the economic upturn.

An update on the industry survey is planned for late summer 2020.

Source:

VDFI e.V. / Traumpass e.V.

Photo: Pixabay
28.04.2020

Meltblown Productive: Fraunhofer ITWM vs. Corona - With Mathematics Against the Crisis

  • Meltblown Productive – ITWM Software Supports Nonwoven Production for Infection Protection

Simulations by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM make processes in the manufacturing of nonwovens more efficient. Within the anti-corona program of Fraunhofer the production of infection protection is optimized.
 
Nonwovens production is currently attracting more attention than ever before from the general public, because in times of the corona pandemic, nonwovens are vital for infection protection in the medical sector and also for the protection of the entire population. Disposable bed linen in hospitals, surgical gowns, mouthguards, wound protection pads and compresses are some examples of nonwoven products.

  • Meltblown Productive – ITWM Software Supports Nonwoven Production for Infection Protection

Simulations by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM make processes in the manufacturing of nonwovens more efficient. Within the anti-corona program of Fraunhofer the production of infection protection is optimized.
 
Nonwovens production is currently attracting more attention than ever before from the general public, because in times of the corona pandemic, nonwovens are vital for infection protection in the medical sector and also for the protection of the entire population. Disposable bed linen in hospitals, surgical gowns, mouthguards, wound protection pads and compresses are some examples of nonwoven products.

IEspecially in intensive care and geriatric care, disposable products made of nonwovens are used due to the special hygiene requirements. At the moment there are clear bottlenecks in the production of these materials. For the meltblown nonwovens class, however, it is difficult to increase production efficiency because meltblown processes are highly sensitive to process fluctuations and material impurities.
 
Although nonwovens are not all the same, the rough principle of their production is relatively similar to all industrially manufactured nonwovens: molten polymer is pressed through many fine nozzles, stretched and cooled down in an air stream and thus deposited into the typical white webs. "Meltblown" stands for the submicron fiber process whose nonwovens are responsible for the decisive filter function in face masks.
 
With meltblown technology, nonwoven fabrics are produced directly from granules. A special spinning process in combination with high-speed hot air is used to produce fine-fibered nonwovens with different structures. The fibers are highly stretched by the turbulent air flow. During this process they swirl in the air, become entangled and fall more or less randomly onto a conveyor belt where they are further consolidated - a very complex process. Nonwovens manufacturers around the world are striving to massively increase their production capacities.
 
Digital Twin Optimizes Meltblown Process    
This is where the software of the ITWM comes into play. "Our Fiber Dynamics Simulation Tool FIDYST is used to predict the movement of the fibers, their falling and the orientation with which they are laid down on the conveyor belt. Depending on the process settings, turbulence characteristics are generated and thus nonwoven qualities are created that differ in structure, fiber density and strength," explains Dr. Walter Arne from the Fraunhofer ITWM. He has been working at the institute for years on the simulation of various processes involving fibers and filaments.

The methodology is well transferable to meltblown processes. In these processes, one of the specific features is the simulation of filament stretching in a turbulent air flow - how the stretching takes place, the dynamics of the filaments and the diameter distribution. These are all complex aspects that have to be taken into account, but also the flow field or the temperature distribution. The simulations of the scientists at the Fraunhofer ITWM then provide a qualitative and quantitative insight into the fiber formation in such meltblown processes - unique in the world in this form when it comes to simulate a turbulent spinning process (meltblown).

Nonwoven Manufacturers benefit from Simulation
What does this mean for the industry? The production of technical textiles becomes more efficient, but the nonwovens can also be developed without having intensive productions tests in a real facility. This is because the simulations help to forecast and then optimize the processes using a digital twin. In this way, production capacities can be increased while maintaining the same product quality. Simulations save experiments, allow new insights, enable systematic parameter variations and solve up-scaling problems that can lead to misinvestments during the transition from laboratory to industrial plant.

Making a Contribution to Overcome the Crisis With Many Years of Expertise
"We want to demonstrate this in the project using a typical meltblown line as an example - for this we are in contact with partner companies," says Dr. Dietmar Hietel, head of the department "Transport Processes" at the Fraunhofer ITWM. "Within the framework of Fraunhofer's anti-corona program, we want to use our developed expertise and our network to contribute to overcome the crisis", reports Hietel. His department at the Fraunhofer ITWM has been pursuing research in the field of technical textiles for around 20 years. Due to its current relevance, the project not only got off to a quick start, but the implementation and results should now also be implemented quickly: The project is scheduled to run from April 15th 2020 to August 14th 2020. The kick-off meeting took place on April 17th 2020 via video conference.
 
The project "Meltblown productive" and the results are certainly interesting for nonwoven producers. The production of many mass products has often been outsourced to Asia in the past decades; the nonwovens manufacturers remaining in Germany and Europe tend to focus more on high-quality technical textiles. In the medium and longer term, this will also be a scientific preliminary work when production capacities in Germany and Europe are expanded by new plants. One lesson to be learned from the crisis will also be to reduce the dependence on producers in Asia, especially as a precautionary measure for crisis scenarios.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics, ITWM