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28.06.2022

Individual plastic budget - Fraunhofer UMSICHT presents study results

When plastics enter the environment, this brings with it many negative effects: these range from suffocating living organisms to transfer within the food chain and physical effects on an ecosystem. In addition, there are dangers from the release of additives, monomers and critical intermediates of metabolic processes, the metabolites.

How great the long-term impact of plastic emissions actually is, is not yet clear at the present time. In order to create a political decision-making basis for dealing with plastic emissions, researchers from Fraunhofer UMSICHT and the Ruhr University Bochum have therefore developed a budget approach and an LCA impact assessment methodology in the "PlastikBudget" project from December 2017 to the end of August 2021. The researchers have now completed the project. The result: When driving a car, a person emits more than half of their individual plastic emission budget through tire wear.

When plastics enter the environment, this brings with it many negative effects: these range from suffocating living organisms to transfer within the food chain and physical effects on an ecosystem. In addition, there are dangers from the release of additives, monomers and critical intermediates of metabolic processes, the metabolites.

How great the long-term impact of plastic emissions actually is, is not yet clear at the present time. In order to create a political decision-making basis for dealing with plastic emissions, researchers from Fraunhofer UMSICHT and the Ruhr University Bochum have therefore developed a budget approach and an LCA impact assessment methodology in the "PlastikBudget" project from December 2017 to the end of August 2021. The researchers have now completed the project. The result: When driving a car, a person emits more than half of their individual plastic emission budget through tire wear.

How big is the long-term impact of plastic emissions?
Six percent of global petroleum consumption goes to the plastics industry - and the trend is rising. While the plastics industry is an important economic factor in many countries, more and more plastic waste ends up in soils and oceans. Mostly in the form of highly mobile, small to large plastic fragments, plastic emissions can no longer be recovered from the environment. At the same time, the long-term effects of plastic in the environment are hardly predictable.

Due to the global and cross-generational dimension of the problem, it is important that science, industry and consumers work together to find a solution. One goal of the joint project PlastikBudget is therefore to quantify today's plastic emissions and to derive a plastic emissions budget. On this basis, the researchers can formulate quantitative emission targets that can be used to legitimize political decisions. In particular, the path from empirically verified data and normative values to a concrete emissions budget forms the core objective of the project.

From research to per capita emissions budget
Starting with a basic research on plastic quantities in the environment, the project addresses two major topics: The development of a budget approach and the development of an impact assessment method that can be used in life cycle assessments to consider potential environmental impacts of plastic emissions. Participatory formats complete the project. In this way, the results are anchored in political and scientific discourse. In the course of the project, the researchers will answer the following questions: What quantities of plastic are currently being discharged and what quantities have already accumulated? What quantities of plastic in the environment are still acceptable? How long does it take for plastics to degrade in real environmental compartments? How are the risks posed by different plastic emissions adequately represented? Finally, from the answers, they calculate a value for current emissions and what they consider to be an acceptable emissions budget.

250 million tonnes of PPE for 7.8 billion people
To measure plastic pollution, the researchers in the PlastikBudget project have developed the persistence-weighted plastic emission equivalent (PPE for short). This represents a virtual mass that takes into account the period of time until a specific plastic emission is degraded, e.g. in soil, freshwater or seawater. Relevant properties for this are the location of the emission, the material type, the shape of the plastic emission as well as the size of the emitted plastic part and the final environmental compartment in which the plastic remains. In the case of plastics that degrade completely within one year, the plastic emission equivalent corresponds to the real mass. If the degradation time is longer, it increases accordingly.

"Based on the thesis that the total amount of plastics already accumulated in the environment today has just reached a critical quantity, we were able to calculate a global plastic emission budget of 250 million tonnes of PPE," explains Jürgen Bertling, project manager of the project and scientist at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. "If each of the 7.8 billion people is allocated the same emission rights, this results in an individual budget of 31.9 kilograms of PPE per person and year."

Driving consumes half of the individual plastic budget
However, tire wear from driving alone corresponds to a plastic emission equivalent of 16.5 kg PPE per year and thus consumes more than 50 per cent of an individual's budget. Even waste from ten coffee-to-go disposable cups would consume 13.5 kg of PPE per year, more than a third of one's budget. "This is because the plastics used in disposable cups are more difficult to degrade than the rubber in the tire," explains Jan Blömer from Fraunhofer UMSICHT, who played a key role in developing the calculation methodology. The consumption of a coil of polyamide for a lawn trimmer, which releases microplastics when used, also weighs in considerably at 5.1 kilograms of PPE. Microbeads in cosmetics or the one-time sanding of a front door, on the other hand, consume significantly less of the individual emissions budget with 1.1 kg PPE and 0.5 kg PPE, but are still quite relevant in the overall balance.

Many other everyday activities also lead to plastic emissions. Nevertheless, the researchers show that the calculated budget limits can be met in various scenarios. However, such a scenario also entails considerable effort and massive changes in the way we deal with plastics today. One possible scenario to meet the budget would be a reduction of emissions by more than 50 per cent, if at the same time at least 50 per cent of all emissions consisted of readily degradable plastics.

Further work on accounting for plastic emissions in life cycle assessments
The persistence-weighted plastic emission equivalent developed in the PlastikBudget project could also represent a new impact category in life cycle assessments in the future. "With the help of factors that reflect the persistence of plastics in the environment, it will be possible in future to compare different product alternatives in terms of their plastic emission footprints," says Dr Daniel Maga, who is coordinating the corresponding further development of the life cycle assessment methodology at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. A corresponding exchange with companies is taking place here. However, implementation in the life cycle assessment methodology and the associated software solutions requires broad acceptance in the scientific community and must be prepared in corresponding standardisation committees.

The project is part of the research priority "Plastics in the Environment" (PidU) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in which 18 collaborative projects with around 100 partners from science, industry, associations, municipalities and practice want to clarify fundamental questions about the production, use and disposal of plastics. The research focus "Plastics in the Environment - Sources, Shrinking, Solutions" is part of the Green Economy flagship initiative of the BMBF framework programme "Research for Sustainable Development" (FONA3).

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT

(c) Oeti
31.05.2022

OEKO-TEX® Association celebrates 30th birthday

The international OEKO-TEX® Association, which consists of a total of 17 independent research and testing institutes in Europe and Japan, turns thirty this year. As one of the founding members, OETI is taking this as an opportunity to talk to OEKO-TEX® expert Helene Melnitzky (Head of the Ecology Department at OETI) about the role of the OEKO-TEX® Association, market trends and current OEKO-TEX® certifications and labels.

The international OEKO-TEX® Association, which consists of a total of 17 independent research and testing institutes in Europe and Japan, turns thirty this year. As one of the founding members, OETI is taking this as an opportunity to talk to OEKO-TEX® expert Helene Melnitzky (Head of the Ecology Department at OETI) about the role of the OEKO-TEX® Association, market trends and current OEKO-TEX® certifications and labels.

The international OEKO-TEX® Association is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year. What role has it played so far with regard to the product safety of textile and leather products?
Helene Melnitzky:
In the area product safety1, OEKO-TEX® has had a great impact over the last three decades by ensuring certain pollutant additives, some of which were found in large quantities in textiles 30 years ago, no longer exist. The OEKO-TEX® Association was also the first to limit certain heavy metals. Based on our actions, legal provisions were ultimately passed. We have been testing banned dyes since before there even was an EU regulation in this regard. Of course, we now test according to the EU regulation, but in this respect OEKO-TEX® was a clear trailblazer.

In addition to product safety, OEKO-TEX® has been working on the topics of ‘environmentally friendly textile products manufactured under fair working conditions for 30 years, which also included leather products for the last five years, and with STeP by OEKO-TEX® on the ‘certification of environmentally friendly production sites’ since 2013. In one way or another, we have been preparing the market for thirty years. In the process, we are always creating new things: currently the Impact Calculator and, in autumn-2022, a new certification for brands and retailers: RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS by OEKO-TEX®.

How does that benefit the customers of OEKO-TEX®?
Helene Melnitzky:
Customers can use these calculations for external communication to demonstrate on their products or webpages that their products have a lower footprint than their competitors. This means that customers sourcing everything regionally will have a smaller footprint than companies that source products from different countries. In the future, it will be necessary to display the water and carbon footprint on the product, so that consumers can decide whether they want to buy product A or B.

How is the aspect of fair working conditions taken into account?
Helene Melnitzky:
This topic has also been gaining significant momentum over the last ten years. There is now enough pressure on brands and retailers to improve local working conditions. We cover this area as part of our STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification2 with our ‘social responsibility’ module. The advantage for our customers is that they can subsequently use the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label to show how they have performed in the social module.

What does Transparency with MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® mean?
Helene Melnitzky:
Everything that is written on the product is transparent. The MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label is a traceable product label for all types of textiles and leather items that have been produced in environmentally friendly factories and at safe and socially responsible workplaces. Furthermore, the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label gives consumers the certainty that the textile or leather product is made from materials tested for harmful substances. In order to ensure that textile or leather products with the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label have been produced using environmentally friendly processes under socially acceptable working conditions, manufacturing and wet production sites must be certified according to STeP by OEKO-TEX®.

For a year now, it has been possible to have recycled materials STANDARD 100 certified and display that certification as a hangtag to communicate that the product consists of a certain proportion3 of recycled materials. Which market demand is this certification addressing?
Helene Melnitzky:
There is an increasing demand that at least part of the product must be made from recycled material. This is partly attributable to market pressure because raw materials are scarce and expensive. However, we are also voluntarily informing consumers about recycling as part of the circular economy.

What is your outlook for the next few years?
Helene Melnitzky:
Producing textile and leather products in a more environmentally friendly and fair manner, while making the value chain more transparent, is a global challenge that sets new environmental standards. In the long term, however, it also involves important economic and social aspects. The goal is to raise awareness of these interdependencies and a common understanding of environmental issues – among producers and, of course, end consumers. It is clear that the demand for certified and traceable products is growing among consumers. This trend is reflected in purchasing behaviour and thus in manufacturing. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to do.


1 STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® und LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX®
2 The STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification includes the modules Chemical Management, Environmental Performance, Environmental Management, Quality Management, Occupational Health and Safety, and Social Responsibility
3 To qualify, the product must contain at least 20 per cent recycled material.

(c) MAI Carbon
24.05.2022

From waste to secondary raw material - wetlaid nonwovens made from recycled carbon fibers

MAI Scrap SeRO | From Scrap to Secondary Ressources – Highly Orientated Wet-Laid-Nonwovens from CFRP-Waste

The »Scrap SeRO« project is an international joint project in the field of »recycling of carbon fibers«.

The technical project goal is the demonstration of a continuous process route for processing pyrolytically recycled carbon fibers (rCF) in high-performance second-life component structures. In addition to the technological level, the focus of the project is particularly on the international transfer character, in the sense of a cross-cluster initiative between the top cluster MAI Carbon (Germany) and CVC (South Korea).

MAI Scrap SeRO | From Scrap to Secondary Ressources – Highly Orientated Wet-Laid-Nonwovens from CFRP-Waste

The »Scrap SeRO« project is an international joint project in the field of »recycling of carbon fibers«.

The technical project goal is the demonstration of a continuous process route for processing pyrolytically recycled carbon fibers (rCF) in high-performance second-life component structures. In addition to the technological level, the focus of the project is particularly on the international transfer character, in the sense of a cross-cluster initiative between the top cluster MAI Carbon (Germany) and CVC (South Korea).

Through direct cooperation between market-leading companies and research institutions of the participating cluster members, the technical project processing takes place in the context of the global challenge of recycling, as well as the need for increased resource efficiency, with reference to the economically strategic material carbon fibers.

Efficient processing of recycled carbon fibers
The technological process route within the project runs along the industrial wet-laying technology, which is comparable to classic paper production. This enables a robust production of high-quality rCF nonwovens, which are characterized, among other things, by particularly high homogeneity and stability of characteristic values.

A special development focus is on a specific process control, which allows the generation of an orientation of the individual fiber filaments in the nonwoven material.

The given preferred fiber direction of the discontinuous fiber structure opens up strong synergy effects in relation to increased packing densities, i.e. fiber volume content, as well as a significantly optimized processing behavior in relation to impregnation, forming and consolidation, in addition to a load path-oriented mechanics.

The innovative wetlaid nonwovens are then further processed into thermoset and thermoplastic semi-finished products, i.e. prepregs or organosheets, using impregnation processes that are suitable for large-scale production.

rCF tapes are produced from this in an intermediate slitting step. By means of automated fiber placement, load path-optimized preforms can be deposited, which are then consolidated into complex demonstrator components.

The process chain is monitored at key interfaces by innovative non-destructive measurement technology and supplemented by extensive characterization methods. Especially for the processing of pyrolysed recycled carbon fibers, which were recovered from end-of-life waste or PrePreg waste, for example, there are completely new potentials with significant added value compared to the current state of the art for the overall process route presented here.

International Transfer
The fundamentally global challenge of recycling and the striving for increased sustainability is strongly influenced by national recycling strategies as a result of country-specific framework conditions. The globalized way in which companies deal with high-volume material flows places additional demands on a functioning circular economy. A networked solution can only be created on the basis of and in compliance with the respective guidelines and structural factors.

In the case of the high-performance material carbon fiber, there is a particularly high technical requirement for an ecologically and economically viable recycling industry. At the same time, the specific market size already opens up interesting scaling effects and potential for market penetration.

The Scrap SeRO project connects two of the world's leading top clusters in the field of carbon composites from South Korea and Germany on the basis of a cross-cluster initiative. As part of this first promising technology project, the foundation stone for future cooperation is to be laid that supports the effective recycling of carbon fibers. The project makes an important contribution to closing the material cycle for carbon fibers and thus paves the way for renewed use in further life cycles of this high-quality and energy-intensive material.

Info »Scrap SeRO«

  • Duration: 05/2019 – 04/2022
  • Funding: BMBF
  • Funding Amount: 2.557.000 €

National Consortium

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV
  • ELG Carbon Fibre
  • J.M. Voith SE & Co. KG
  • Neenah Gessner
  • SURAGUS GmbH
  • LAMILUX Composites GmbH
  • Covestro Deutschland AG
  • BA Composites GmbH
  • SGL Carbon

International Consortium

  • KCarbon
  • Hyundai
  • Sangmyung University
  • TERA Engineering
Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Photo: pixabay
17.05.2022

The industrial future needs climate-neutral process heat

IN4climate.NRW publishes discussion paper

Not only private households, but above all industrial companies have a high demand for heat. On the way to climate neutrality, greater focus must be placed on the supply of process heat to the industry - especially in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). This is shown by the discussion paper of the climate protection think tank IN4climate.NRW.

In 2020, process heat accounted for a large percentage of industrial energy demand - 67 percent of the energy consumed by German industry - and is still predominantly supplied by fossil fuels (BMWi 2021a). That's almost 20 percent of Germany's total energy demand. No wonder: Whether glass, metal, cement or paper are melted, forged, fired or dried - all these processes require process heat. And in some cases up to a temperature of 3,000 °C.

IN4climate.NRW publishes discussion paper

Not only private households, but above all industrial companies have a high demand for heat. On the way to climate neutrality, greater focus must be placed on the supply of process heat to the industry - especially in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). This is shown by the discussion paper of the climate protection think tank IN4climate.NRW.

In 2020, process heat accounted for a large percentage of industrial energy demand - 67 percent of the energy consumed by German industry - and is still predominantly supplied by fossil fuels (BMWi 2021a). That's almost 20 percent of Germany's total energy demand. No wonder: Whether glass, metal, cement or paper are melted, forged, fired or dried - all these processes require process heat. And in some cases up to a temperature of 3,000 °C.

In the discussion paper "Process heat for a climate-neutral industry (Prozesswärme für eine klimaneutrale Industrie)", IN4climate.NRW formulates approaches and recommendations for action for a process heat transition. A total of thirteen partners of the initiative have signed the paper.

Samir Khayat, Managing Director of NRW.Energy4-Climate: "The switch to sustainable process heat supply is one of the decisive factors in ensuring that the transformation of industry can succeed. With the IN4climate.NRW initiative, we are bringing together the expertise from science, politics as well as industry, and developing concrete strategies to put climate neutrality in industry into practice."

Various figures illustrate the need for action: Only 6 percent of the energy required for process heat has so far been covered by renewable energies. Electricity also currently accounts for only 8 percent - as an energy source, it is still far from emission-free in today's electricity mix, but must become so in the future through the switch to 100 percent renewables.

NRW alone needs 40 percent of the process heat required by the whole of Germany
Tania Begemann, Project Manager Industry and Production at NRW.Energy4Climate and author of the paper: "The sustainable conversion of process heat has always been an important and urgent topic at IN4climate.NRW, but it becomes even more explosive in times of a global energy crisis. It is estimated that NRW alone requires 40 percent of the process heat required by the whole of Germany. In order to remain economically strong and an industrial state in the long term, it is therefore of particular importance for NRW to become independent of fossil process heat sources in the near future. We would like to draw attention to this with this paper. At the same time, this enormous challenge also offers NRW the opportunity to become a pioneer."

How can this be accomplished? The discussion paper shows central approaches and recommendations for action:

  • Increase efficiency: The development and use of high-temperature heat pumps should be specifically promoted within the framework of pilot plants and concepts. In addition, companies should be supported in the development and implementation of concepts that minimize process temperatures and use waste heat within the company.
  • Promote renewable heat sources: Local, renewable energy sources such as deep geothermal energy and solar thermal energy can be an important component of climate-neutral process heat supply and at the same time reduce the reliance on energy imports. Where renewables can supply industrial heating needs, they should be used. These forms of energy should therefore be supported in a targeted manner through inquiries and tenders.
  • Increase renewable electricity: The electrification of processes and applications is the prerequisite for the energy transition. Expanding renewable power generation along with a solid power grid, creating competitive prices for green power, and developing flexible systems are therefore key tasks.
  • Promote storable alternative energy sources: To be able to generate process heat even when renewable energies are not available, industry needs large quantities of storable energy carriers. In particular, sustainable hydrogen must be available at competitive prices and the necessary conditions, such as a transport and storage infrastructure, must be created. In addition to hydrogen, biomass is a valuable and storable energy carrier and raw material at the same time. This limited resource must therefore be used in a targeted and efficient manner.

The climate-neutral generation of process heat is of great importance for the whole of Germany, but especially for the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and at the same time represents a major challenge. The heat transition in industry requires an overall systemic and supraregional view and strategy development. On the one hand, such strategies should take into account the interaction of different sectors. On the other hand, they should include all heat requirements - from buildings to industry. In this paper, decision-makers from politics, industry and society will find initial reference points and impulses for this important, common task.

The paper was developed by the IN4climate.NRW initiative under the umbrella of the NRW.Energy4Climate state organization. It is supported by the institutes Fraunhofer UMSICHT, RWTH Aachen (Chair of Technical Thermodynamics), the VDZ research institute as well as the Wuppertal Institute, the companies Amprion, Currenta, Deutsche Rohstofftechnik (German raw material technology - RHM Group), Georgsmarienhütte, Kabel Premium Pulp and Paper, Lhoist, Pilkington Germany (NSG Group) and Speira as well as the Federal Association of the German Glass Industry.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT

(c) A3/Christian Strohmayr
10.05.2022

Fraunhofer reduces CO2 footprint and recycles trendy lightweight carbon material

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

The wetlaid technology used is one of the oldest nonwoven forming processes (around 140 BC - 100 AD). As an essential industry sector with diverse fields of application, wetlaid nonwovens are no longer only found in the classic paper. Instead, the application areas extend, for example, from adhesive carrier films, and packaging material, to banknotes and their process-integrated watermarks and security features. In the future, particularly sustainable technology fields will be added around battery components, fuel cell elements, filtration layers, and even function-integrated material solutions, e.g., EMI shielding function.

Fraunhofer IGCV wetlaid nonwovens line is specifically designed as a pilot line. In principle, very different fiber materials such as natural, regenerated, and synthetic fibers can be processed, mainly recycled and technical fibers. The system offers the highest possible flexibility regarding material variants and process parameters. In addition, sufficiently high productivity is ensured to allow subsequent scaled processing trials (e.g., demonstrator production).

The main operating range of the wetlaid line relates to the following parameters:

  • Processing speed: up to 30 m/min
  • Role width: 610 mm
  • Grammage: approx. 20–300 gsm
  • Overall machinery is ≥ IP65 standard for processing, e.g., conductive fiber materials
  • Machine design based on an angled wire configuration with high dewatering capacity, e.g., for processing highly diluted fiber suspensions or for material variants with high water retention capacity.
  • Machine modular system design with maximum flexibility for a quick change of material variants or a quick change of process parameters. The setup allows short-term hardware adaptations as well as project-specific modifications.

Research focus: carbon recycling at the end of the life cycle
The research focus of Fraunhofer IGCV is primarily in the field of technical staple fibers. The processing of recycled carbon fibers is a particular focus. Current research topics in this context include, for example, the research, optimization, and further development of binder systems, different fiber lengths and fiber length distributions, nonwoven homogeneity, and fiber orientation. In addition, the focus is on the integration of digital as well as AI-supported methods within the framework of online process monitoring. Further research topics, such as the production of gas diffusion layers for fuel cell components, the further development of battery elements, and filtration applications, are currently being developed.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Photo: pixabay
03.05.2022

The Journey to Carbon Neutrality: Reduction technologies and measuring tools

More and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years, on a corporate as well as product level. The CO2 balance serves as the gateway to sustainable apparel and for more transparency for the consumer.

This process begins with the materials supplied by textile producers, requiring knowledge of the amount of CO2 emitted during production. By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.

More and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years, on a corporate as well as product level. The CO2 balance serves as the gateway to sustainable apparel and for more transparency for the consumer.

This process begins with the materials supplied by textile producers, requiring knowledge of the amount of CO2 emitted during production. By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.

In close collaboration with sustainability insights platform Higg and partners such as Climate Partner, PERFORMANCE DAYS Munich and Functional Fabric Fair by PERFORMANCE DAYS Portland seek targeted answers to the question, “How can we cut down on CO2 emissions?” as part of its roadmap over the next three fairs. The Focus Topic “The Journey to Carbon Neutrality” will therefore highlight materials and fibers that provide solutions on how to produce and reprocess materials in the future in a climate-friendly manner, kicking off at the spring trade fair, to be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on April 4-5, 2022, at the Munich’s Exhibition Center on April 27-28, 2022, continuing through the winter fair in October/November and culminating at the Spring 2023 fair.

When the conversation turns to environmental protection and climate change these days, the term CO2 neutrality is also often mentioned in connection with CO2 emissions and CO2 reduction. Yet what exactly does CO2 neutrality mean? Climate neutrality implies achieving a balance between carbon emissions themselves and the absorption of carbon in the atmosphere into carbon sinks. To achieve net zero emissions, all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide must be offset by carbon sequestration. The fashion and sportswear industries are among the world’s highest emitters of CO2.

If one wishes to examine their emissions across all stages of the value chain, it is worth looking beyond raw materials, production, logistics and trade. Consumer behavior can also influence emissions: According to the “Fashion on Climate” report published by the Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey at the end of August 2020, even greater leverage lies in the products themselves: 61 percent of reductions in emissions could be achieved through CO2 reductions in material production and processing, by minimizing production and manufacturing waste, and in the manufacturing of garments. By 2030, that would account for around 1 billion tons annually. And last but not least, consumer behavior is also a factor that impacts the fashion industry’s climate footprint. If even more attention is paid to sustainable clothing, and if it is reused and worn longer, this can lead to a reduction in emissions of up to 347 million tons, according to the report.

A pioneering example on the road to sustainability was PERFORMANCE DAYS’ decision to only present sustainable materials at the PERFORMANCE FORUM from the trade fair event in November 2019 onwards. And from the upcoming Spring Fair onwards, the sustainable approach will be heightened further. Within the framework of this roadmap, the new Focus Topic is intended to accompany exhibitors on their way to climate neutrality over the course of three fairs. In doing so, PERFORMANCE DAYS and Functional Fabric Fair are pursuing a 3-step plan.  

  • Step 1, April 2022: The focus of the upcoming fair will be on CO2-reducing technologies and the measuring of a product’s carbon footprint.
  • Step 2, November 2022: Within the entire Focus Topic product category, only products that indicate CO2 emissions caused during production will be shown. This contributes to more transparency and comparability in the industry.
  • Step 3, April 2023: The PERFORMANCE FORUM will present the amount of CO2 emitted by each individual product. Furthermore, approaches to solutions will be shown as to how CO2 released during the manufacturing of materials can be offset and further reduced.

For the best possible implementation and presentation of the new Focus Topic, PERFORMANCE DAYS and Functional Fabric Fair trust in collaborators: Higg and Climate Partner – amongst others – will accompany the next three fairs. The Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) is considered the leading tool for assessing the environmental impact of materials in the apparel, footwear and textile industries. The Higg MSI is able to calculate the environmental impact of millions of possible material manufacturing variants. A packaging library has also been added to assist in making sustainable decisions for packaging. The Higg Index is neither a certificate nor a label, but rather an important self-assessment tool that textile companies can utilize internally to be able to identify and improve environmental and social issues throughout their value chain.

Climate Partner, on the other hand, seeks solutions for climate protection: This involves the balancing of CO2 emissions – which in turn are to offset the emissions of companies with recognized climate protection projects in order to make products, services and companies climate neutral. Climate Partner also sees itself as an advisor to companies on their climate protection strategies. Together, the aim is to work on reducing CO2 emissions and to support climate protection projects that benefit the everyday lives of people in developing countries. 

Source:

PERFORMANCE DAYS

(c) Vincentz Network GmbH & Co. KG / ALTENPFLEGE
26.04.2022

ALTENPFLEGE 2022: Intelligently equipped rooms for more independence in old age

Most people want to live as independently as possible in old age. Exhibitors at the industry's leading trade fair ALTENPFLEGE from April 26 to 28 in Essen, Germany will be showing how senior facilities with modern interior design and smart equipment meet this need.

Demand for forms of housing such as service living is on the rise. Studies predict a need for around 540,000 new service living units in the coming years. One of the major trends at this year's 32nd edition of the Altenpflege trade fair is how senior facilities are meeting the rapidly growing demand with flexible room design and digital support. They can be seen in the Aveneo special show, including intelligent systems for stove shut-off, lighting control and room temperature, as well as for fall sensors and emergency calls.

Most people want to live as independently as possible in old age. Exhibitors at the industry's leading trade fair ALTENPFLEGE from April 26 to 28 in Essen, Germany will be showing how senior facilities with modern interior design and smart equipment meet this need.

Demand for forms of housing such as service living is on the rise. Studies predict a need for around 540,000 new service living units in the coming years. One of the major trends at this year's 32nd edition of the Altenpflege trade fair is how senior facilities are meeting the rapidly growing demand with flexible room design and digital support. They can be seen in the Aveneo special show, including intelligent systems for stove shut-off, lighting control and room temperature, as well as for fall sensors and emergency calls.

Future tenants or buyers of serviced apartments are prepared to invest specifically in their own living environment (source: Terragon study 2021). The focus is on a feel-good atmosphere, a high level of security and the option of using care services if required. "This can be facilitated by a cleverly thought-out arrangement of the rooms within a serviced apartment, for example by arranging the bathroom and bedroom right next to each other and making the wall with the washbasin rotatable," explains Carolin Pauly, managing director of Universal Rooms, which considers itself to be the interface between the wishes of the operators and the products in the serviced apartment market. "The furniture and furnishings industry is called upon to design modern collections with hidden product features that make life easier in old age," Pauly demands. This could be, for example, a grab handle built into the washbasin or a dining table that can be accessed by a wheelchair.

Lighting management also plays an important role. It should convey a sense of well-being and security as well as provide orientation and safety. Age-related clinical pictures in particular place high demands on lighting. Here, lighting systems that simulate the natural day and night rhythm can provide help.

Living, care and digitalization combined
The Chief Executive Officer of the Evangelische Heimstiftung (EHS - Evangelical Home Foundation), Bernhard Schneider, sees "an individually and comfortably furnished apartment that uses intelligent technology to provide a great deal of security and self-determination" as the senior living of the future. "I am certain: In the future, in a sector-free setting, we will have to understand housing, nursing and care, and digitalization even more strongly as building blocks that can be combined as needed."

According to Schneider, this starts with housing: In a nursing apartment or an assisted living apartment, in a shared apartment or other form of communal living, in a residence or an intergenerational project. All forms of housing should be well integrated into the neighborhood - this requires reliable, financed advisory structures, for example through neighborhood managers. In addition, there is care, support and assistance, in the form of day or night care, a mobile service or volunteers. "And technology, for example through our Aladien system, i.e. with intelligent home emergency call, fall sensors, stove shut-off, roller shutters and light control, video door telephony, etc. In the future, Aladien will evolve into a service robot," predicts Schneider.

This makes it possible for people to live a self-determined life and participate in society, even in old age. That's what people want, he says: a pleasant living environment, social contacts, cultural offerings and the certainty that someone will take care of them if necessary. "What we need for this is political commitment in the form of an ambitious funding program for modern forms of housing in old age," demands the EHS CEO. This would not only help the older generation, but young families could also benefit because this would free up the far too spacious apartments and terraced houses of the older generation for them.


ALTENPFLEGE – Trade fair and congress for the care industry since 1990
The traditional leading trade show for the care industry has so far been held alternately in Hanover and Nuremberg. From this year it alternates between Essen and Nuremberg. It covers all segments of professional geriatric care: services and products for care and therapy, occupation and education, IT and management, nutrition and home economics, textiles and hygiene as well as space and technology. In more than 30 lecture blocks, the accompanying trade congress covers the current topics of the industry, such as digitalization, the future of professional nursing care, hospice and palliative care, training or the new collectively agreed payment under the Healthcare Development Act (Gesundheitsversorgungsweiterentwicklungsgesetz - GVWG).

Photo: unsplash
19.04.2022

Off-price - Boom in bargain hunting

  • Off-price becomes a growth machine for the fashion industry
  • Off-price segment grows five times faster than regular offer
  • Growth of online sales in the off-price segment tripled - market share 40%
  • Future growth almost exclusively online

Fashion consumers in Germany appreciate bargain hunting. The off-price segment, in which high-end fashion brands are offered at lower prices in online and offline outlets, was already growing faster than the entire fashion industry before 2020 and has shrunk less during the pandemic. Between 2025 and 2030, the segment is expected to grow five times faster than the entire fashion industry. One reason for this is the strong online presence of this product offering, which benefited from the boom in online shopping during the pandemic.

  • Off-price becomes a growth machine for the fashion industry
  • Off-price segment grows five times faster than regular offer
  • Growth of online sales in the off-price segment tripled - market share 40%
  • Future growth almost exclusively online

Fashion consumers in Germany appreciate bargain hunting. The off-price segment, in which high-end fashion brands are offered at lower prices in online and offline outlets, was already growing faster than the entire fashion industry before 2020 and has shrunk less during the pandemic. Between 2025 and 2030, the segment is expected to grow five times faster than the entire fashion industry. One reason for this is the strong online presence of this product offering, which benefited from the boom in online shopping during the pandemic.

"Online accounts for 40% of the market in the off-price segment and is growing rapidly at an average of 13% per year. Almost all of the growth in off-price will take place online in the next three years," says Katharina Schumacher, digital expert and author of the study entitled "Mastering off-price fashion in an omnichannel world". "This opens up opportunities for fashion companies to reach new consumers with their brand who would not normally consider a full-price purchase."
          
For the study, global data on the off-price market was analysed and 11,000 consumers in ten countries were surveyed. German shoppers are particularly interested in bargains. In the past year, many consumers in Germany have increasingly shopped online. In the off-price segment, the growth of the online market has tripled: from 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in 2020 to 27% in 2021.

By 2025, growth in Germany as well as in Austria could amount to 16% per year. The average in the EU lies at 13%. In addition, offprice offers fashion brands the opportunity to sell their surplus goods in a sustainable way.

Typical online off-price consumers, so-called enthusiasts, are particularly interested in luxury, affordable luxury and premium products and buy on specialised platforms such as dress-for-less, BestSecret, brands4friends or Scarce. They value style and usually start without a specific brand in mind. They enjoy comparing prices and spend 2.3 times more than other fashion consumers. In Germany, 30% of off-price shoppers who spend more than 1,000 euros per year account for 70% of total fashion spending. "However, these shoppers are generally willing to pay full price for premium and luxury brands," says Achim Berg, fashion industry expert at McKinsey. "Fashion suppliers should therefore carefully consider which goods they offer off-price."

Offline purchases with increasing expectations
Off-price shoppers who shop in stores are often younger and have a higher purchasing power than other fashion consumers. They like to shop in outlet centres, while they often shy away from going to a regular luxury shop on a shopping mall.
"Outlets therefore offer luxury fashion companies the opportunity not only to increase their profitability but also to reach new groups of shoppers without cannibalising their full-price assortment and damaging their brand," says Felix Rölkens, McKinsey expert for the fashion industry and co-author of the study. "However, shoppers expect more and more from outlets: comparable shop layouts as in regular brick-and-mortar retail, multilingual shoppers, restaurants and a good shopping experience."
          

Source:

McKinsey & Company

Photo: Pixabay
12.04.2022

Disrupted supply chains: Only nearshoring and digital technologies will help in the long term

  • McKinsey survey: Globally, more than 90 percent of supply chain managers are investing in the resilience of their supply chains during the Corona crisis.
  • But more often than not, they are simply increasing inventories instead of focusing on long-term effective measures such as regionalization of suppliers.
  • Only the healthcare industry has consistently relied on nearshoring and regionalization of suppliers so far.

Supply chain managers worldwide are under pressure: More than 90 percent invested during the Corona crisis to make their supply chains more resilient to external disruptions. More often than planned, however, supply chain managers resorted to the ad hoc measure of simply increasing inventories. And less often than planned, they also relied on long-term effects by regionalizing their supply base.

  • McKinsey survey: Globally, more than 90 percent of supply chain managers are investing in the resilience of their supply chains during the Corona crisis.
  • But more often than not, they are simply increasing inventories instead of focusing on long-term effective measures such as regionalization of suppliers.
  • Only the healthcare industry has consistently relied on nearshoring and regionalization of suppliers so far.

Supply chain managers worldwide are under pressure: More than 90 percent invested during the Corona crisis to make their supply chains more resilient to external disruptions. More often than planned, however, supply chain managers resorted to the ad hoc measure of simply increasing inventories. And less often than planned, they also relied on long-term effects by regionalizing their supply base. These are the key findings of a comparative study for which management consultants McKinsey & Company surveyed more than 70 supply chain managers from leading companies worldwide - for the first time in 2020 and again this year. Further results: Digital technologies are used much more frequently today than at the beginning of the pandemic, for example real-time monitoring or analytics based on artificial intelligence (AI).

The survey also quantifies the striking shortage of IT specialists in the area of supply management: in 2021, only one percent of the companies surveyed had enough IT specialists. "In the wake of the digitalization push, the need for IT skills is becoming even more of a bottleneck than it already has been," reports Vera Trautwein, McKinsey expert for supply chain management and co-author of the study. "As a result, the scope for action is also decreasing dramatically." In 2020, ten percent of the supply chain managers surveyed still had access to sufficient experts with the relevant IT know-how in their departments. How did the supply chain managers act during the crisis? Almost all respondents (92 percent) have invested in the resilience of their supply chains, and 80 percent have also invested in digital supply chain technologies. But while 40 percent of the 2020 respondents in McKinsey's first "Supply Chain Pulse" had still planned nearshoring and expanding their supplier base, only 15 percent ultimately put this into action. Instead, significantly more managers than expected - 42 percent versus 27 percent - expanded their inventories.

The 2020/21 comparative study also shows that supply chain managers have acted very differently in the crisis, depending on the industry. Healthcare can be considered a pioneer in the regionalization of the supply chain: 60 percent of the respondents in the industry have actually concentrated procurement, production and sales in a region such as Europe or North America, which they have also announced. In 2020, 33 percent of companies in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries had also announced this. However, according to their own figures, only 22 percent actually did so. This was despite the fact that more than three quarters of supply chain managers had given this measure priority. The chemicals and raw materials sectors made the fewest changes to their supply chains.

After the crisis is before the crisis
Over the years, supply chains have evolved into a high-frequency sensitive organism. Consistently globalized, optimized to fluctuations in consumer demand and with as little inventory as possible to cut costs. "This strategy has left companies vulnerable," notes McKinsey partner Knut Alicke. "And during the crisis, measures were taken that were more effective in the short term." As a result, supply chains are not yet resilient enough to prevent future disruptions. "For companies, nearshoring of suppliers remains a key factor in increasing their crisis resilience in the medium to long term." In addition, however, he said, the expansion and use of digital technologies are the key factors for resilient supply chains.

The pressure to act is great: Massive supply chain disruptions occur on average every 3.7 years and disrupt supply chains for at least one month. This was the conclusion of another McKinsey study on supply chains entitled "Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains" back in 2020.

Source:

McKinsey & Company [Düsseldorf, Germany]

(c) Empa
05.04.2022

In the heat of the wound: Smart bandage

A bandage that releases medication as soon as an infection starts in a wound could treat injuries more efficiently. Empa researchers are currently working on polymer fibers that soften as soon as the environment heats up due to an infection, thereby releasing antimicrobial drugs.

It is not possible to tell from the outside whether a wound will heal without problems under the dressing or whether bacteria will penetrate the injured tissue and ignite an inflammation. To be on the safe side, disinfectant ointments or antibiotics are applied to the wound before the dressing is applied. However, these preventive measures are not necessary in every case. Thus, medications are wasted and wounds are over-treated.

A bandage that releases medication as soon as an infection starts in a wound could treat injuries more efficiently. Empa researchers are currently working on polymer fibers that soften as soon as the environment heats up due to an infection, thereby releasing antimicrobial drugs.

It is not possible to tell from the outside whether a wound will heal without problems under the dressing or whether bacteria will penetrate the injured tissue and ignite an inflammation. To be on the safe side, disinfectant ointments or antibiotics are applied to the wound before the dressing is applied. However, these preventive measures are not necessary in every case. Thus, medications are wasted and wounds are over-treated.

Even worse, the wasteful use of antibiotics promotes the emergence of multi-resistant germs, which are an immense problem in global healthcare. Empa researchers at the two Empa laboratories Biointerfaces and Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles in St. Gallen want to change this. They are developing a dressing that autonomously administers antibacterial drugs only when they are really needed.

The idea of the interdisciplinary team led by Qun Ren and Fei Pan: The dressing should be "loaded" with drugs and react to environmental stimuli. "In this way, wounds could be treated as needed at exactly the right moment," explains Fei Pan. As an environmental stimulus, the team chose a well-known effect: the rise in temperature in an infected, inflamed wound.

Now the team had to design a material that would react appropriately to this increase in temperature. For this purpose, a skin-compatible polymer composite was developed made of several components: acrylic glass (polymethyl methacrylate, or PMMA), which is used, for example, for eyeglass lenses and in the textile industry, and Eudragit, a biocompatible polymer mixture that is used, for example, to coat pills. Electrospinning was used to process the polymer mixture into a fine membrane of nanofibers. Finally, octenidine was encapsulated in the nanofibers as a medically active component. Octenidine is a disinfectant that acts quickly against bacteria, fungi and some viruses. In healthcare, it can be used on the skin, on mucous membranes and for wound disinfection.

Signs of inflammation as triggers
As early as in the ancient world, the Greek physician Galen described the signs of inflammation. The five Latin terms are still valid today: dolor (pain), calor (heat), rubor (redness), tumor (swelling) and functio laesa (impaired function) stand for the classic indications of inflammation. In an infected skin wound, local warmth can be as high as five degrees. This temperature difference can be used as a trigger: Suitable materials change their consistency in this range and can release therapeutic substances.

Shattering glove
"In order for the membrane to act as a "smart bandage" and actually release the disinfectant when the wound heats up due to an infection, we put together the polymer mixture of PMMA and Eudragit in such a way that we could adjust the glass transition temperature accordingly," says Fei Pan. This is the temperature, at which a polymer changes from a solid consistency to a rubbery, toughened state. Figuratively, the effect is often described in reverse: If you put a rubber glove in liquid nitrogen at –196 degrees, it changes its consistency and becomes so hard that you can shatter it like glass with one blow.

The desired glass transition temperature of the polymer membrane, on the other hand, was in the range of 37 degrees. When inflammation kicks in and the skin heats up above its normal temperature of 32 to 34 degrees, the polymer changes from its solid to a softer state. In laboratory experiments, the team observed the disinfectant being released from the polymer at 37 degrees – but not at 32 degrees. Another advantage: The process is reversible and can be repeated up to five times, as the process always "switches itself off" when it cools down. Following these promising initial tests, the Empa researchers now want to fine-tune the effect. Instead of a temperature range of four to five degrees, the smart bandage should already switch on and off at smaller temperature differences.

Smart and unsparing
To investigate the efficacy of the nanofiber membranes against wound germs, further laboratory experiments are now in the pipeline. Team leader Qun Ren has long been concerned with germs that nestle in the interface between surfaces and the environment, such as on a skin wound. "In this biological setting, a kind of no man's land between the body and the dressing material, bacteria find a perfect biological niche," says the Empa researcher. Infectious agents such as staphylococci or Pseudomonas bacteria can cause severe wound healing disorders. It was precisely these wound germs that the team allowed to become acquainted with the smart dressing in the Petri dish. And indeed: The number of bacteria was reduced roughly 1000-fold when octenidine was released from the smart dressing. "With octenidine, we have achieved a proof of principle for controlled drug release by an external stimulus," said Qun Ren. In future, she said, the technology could be applied to other types of drugs, increasing the efficiency and precision in their dosage.

The smart dressing
Empa researchers are working in interdisciplinary teams on various approaches to improve medical wound treatment. For example, liquid sensors on the outside of the dressing are to make it visible when a wound is healing poorly by changing their color. Critical glucose and pH values serve as biomarkers.

To enable bacterial infections to be contained directly in the wound, the researchers are also working on a polymer foam loaded with anti-inflammatory substances and on a skin-friendly membrane made of plant material. The cellulose membrane is equipped with antimicrobial protein elements and kills bacteria extremely efficiently in laboratory tests.

Moreover, digitalization can achieve more economical and efficient dosages in wound care: Empa researchers are developing digital twins of the skin that allow control and prediction of the course of a therapy using real-time modeling.

Further information:
Prof. Dr. Katharina
Maniura Biointerfaces
Phone +41 58 765 74 47
Katharina.Maniura@empa.ch

Prof. Dr. René Rossi
Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles
Phone +41 58 765 77 65
Rene.rossi@empa.ch

Source:

EMPA, Andrea Six

Foto: Lalit Kumar, Unsplash
29.03.2022

The man-made fibers industry at the turning point of time

"You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy."

Textination talked to the Managing Director of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., Dr. Wilhelm Rauch, about his assessment of the turning point that the man-made fibers industry is currently facing. What are the risks and threats, and what needs to change in order to remain a competitive player on the global market.

"You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy."

Textination talked to the Managing Director of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., Dr. Wilhelm Rauch, about his assessment of the turning point that the man-made fibers industry is currently facing. What are the risks and threats, and what needs to change in order to remain a competitive player on the global market.

US President Joe Biden has called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a war criminal in connection with the invasion of Ukraine. The United Nations' highest court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has ordered Russia to immediately end its war against Ukraine. How do you personally assess Russia's behavior?
Dr. Rauch:
With family roots in the Rhineland, Central and East Germany, I grew up at a time when, as a result of the division of Europe, families were separated and people were ruthlessly shot in the middle of Germany who wanted to cross the inner-German demarcation line towards the West. Since 1989, the fall of the Iron Curtain has led us into a period that lasted more than 30 years and allowed us, at least in Europe, to experience an era of peaceful coexistence between the great power blocs, intensive trade relations and prosperous states.

It is more than shocking to see today how Russia is trying to turn back the wheel of history in Europe with a brutality that the youngest generation growing up in Europe has fortunately not had to experience so far, and it brings back the worst memories of the Cold War, which everyone hoped would never return. If today in Ukraine even facilities for the peaceful use of nuclear energy are fired upon, a dimension has been reached that one does not want to extrapolate any further. In addition to the unspeakable human suffering caused, which we can only begin to alleviate by accepting Ukrainian refugees, in the long term all trust in political promises is being gambled away, which, however, is essential both for peaceful coexistence and for economic cooperation. We are facing a reordering of the world in which supply relationships and dependencies with or on autocratic states must be evaluated much more sensitively for each individual case.

The economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are becoming increasingly clear. The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) is correcting its forecast for 2022, but does not yet see a recession. What are your expectations for the industry in the current fiscal year?
Dr. Rauch:
The man-made fibers industry has been severely affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the last two years. Planned investments were first postponed and then finally abandoned. By the end of 2022, three man-made fibers producers will close their doors in Germany compared to 2019. The industry started the current year on a very hopeful note, although previous issues such as REACH and, above all, energy costs were already increasing in severity before the Russia-Ukraine war. The economic consequences of the war will have a negative impact both directly in the form of increased energy prices and indirectly through changes in international competitive conditions.

What do the war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions against Russia entail for the upstream supply chains of the manmade fiber industry?
Dr. Rauch:
The immediate upstream supply chains will not be affected much by this war at first. However, we must expect supply chains in other industries to be disrupted. If, for example, certain raw materials or products are no longer available, this can have a noticeable impact, starting with logistics (mobility) and extending to components in production technology facilities. An example of this is the availability of cable harnesses, which were previously produced in Ukraine and are indispensable in many electronic components for man-made fibers production.

What is the relevance of Ukraine and Russia as sales markets for IVC member companies?
Dr. Rauch:
If we take the last year before the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic as the reference year, exports to Ukraine and the Russian Federation account for around 1.6% of total exports of man-made fibers from Germany. On average, a loss of sales to these countries can be tolerated, although it should not be forgotten that in individual cases - depending on a company's product portfolio - the impact can be quite significant. Looking beyond the horizon, it is not only the direct exports of man-made fibers to the war region that are of significance, but also deliveries of products in which man-made fibers are processed. Here, there are now interrupted supply relationships that result in order losses for the man-made fibers industry.

Certain industries are particularly affected by the consequences - what does this mean for the man-made fibers sector as a supplier industry?
Dr. Rauch:
Wherever production is cut back along the downstream value chain in which man-made fibers were used, the effects will be noticeable with a temporal delay. This applies, for example, to deliveries to the automotive sector, where the production of new vehicles comes to a standstill due to a lack of components originating from Ukraine.

How are exploding energy prices and the gas embargo affecting man-made fibers producers in the DACH region?
Dr. Rauch:
Even before the Russia-Ukraine war, European energy costs were already at a level that hit our members hard. For example, European gas costs currently rose by ten times from approx. 12 EUR/MWh to approx. 120 EUR/MWh as a result of the war, while in the USA they "only" rose by two and a half times from approx. 8 EUR/MWh to approx. 18 EUR/MWh. The situation is similar for electricity prices in Germany in particular, which have also risen by a factor of 10 from an already high level. Further price increases in Europe cannot be ruled out, but are more likely. Against this background, moderate adjustments in man-made fibers prices are only a drop in the bucket. A market development with virtually exploding energy costs cannot be reliably depicted by any company, nor can it be priced in such a way as to cover costs.

As the industry association of the man-made fibers industry, what do you think of "Freeze for Peace" or a stop to all Russian gas and raw material imports?
Dr. Rauch:
In Germany in particular, we have deliberately made ourselves dependent on Russian gas, contrary to all international warnings, by defining it as necessary for the bridge technology of electricity generation that we will need after the shutdown of coal- and nuclear-based power plants, before the availability of a sufficient amount of so-called "green" energy is assured. Gas is also needed for heating purposes and as a raw material, so it takes on the function of an all-rounder.

A boycott-related import stop would not only have serious negative consequences for the man-made fibers sector, but for the entire German industry and the majority of private households. As I mentioned at the beginning, it is the order of the day to help alleviate human suffering by taking in Ukrainian refugees. But this is not the end of the crisis. It must be assumed that the war situation will not be resolved in the near future. However, in order to cope with a protracted crisis situation, our economic strength must be maintained in order to be able to cope with the challenges ahead. An import freeze would be counterproductive in this respect. Since, due to the latest developments, gas deliveries are now to be paid for in rubles, there is rather a risk that Russia, for its part, will stop gas deliveries. In their effect, the two scenarios do not differ. The only thing that is certain is the fact that the availability of Russian gas to Europe is no longer guaranteed. Ultimately, the Russian demand to switch payments to rubles, which is not only aimed at revaluing the ruble, makes it clear that Russia is not dependent on Europe as a buyer of its gas. This would mean that a "freeze for peace" would lead to nothing. In the Far East, there is already a potential buyer of Russian gas to obtain it cheaply and safely, and which is also a major competitor of the European chemical fiber industry: China.

Are agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar a good substitute solution for gas and oil supplies from Russia?
Dr. Rauch:
It is not a question of evaluating a measure in the sense of good or bad, but of whether it appears suitable in this particular situation to reduce unilateral dependencies on an aggressor before sustainable solutions are available in sufficient quantity. In this respect, there should initially be no ideological barriers in the measures to be examined for feasibility. The agreements concluded with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar after certainly careful political scrutiny are individual decisions and represent only one piece in the mosaic among many.

Does the saying "First we had bad luck, then we were not lucky at all" apply to the current economic performance of the industry - or: how do you assess the influence of the Corona pandemic and the war situation in this respect?
Dr. Rauch:
Both the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war are events with a global character. While the first event affected all countries equally sooner or later, the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war must be assessed in a more differentiated manner. The consequences of the war primarily affect companies in Europe, and there in particular those countries which - as mentioned above - have placed themselves in unilateral dependencies like Germany. This does not apply to the man-made fibers industry in particular. Although there are many fellow sufferers in other industries, this does not improve the situation, of course.

What does the industry expect from the political leaders in Berlin and Brussels in the future?
Dr. Rauch:
The wish list can be fixed to a few core elements:
In the long term, we need a supply of energy and raw materials that is not based on the dependence of a few autocratic states. On the way there, against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, previous exit scenarios from coal and nuclear energy must be reconsidered without prejudice with regard to their timeline. Or to put it more concisely: You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy.

But energies from renewable raw materials must also be offered at prices that allow global competitiveness. According to a study by DECHEMA and FutureCamp, the chemical industry has calculated a price of 4 ct/kWh (including all taxes and fees). We are miles away from this today.

The revision of REACH must not lead to further bureaucracy and requirements that tie up capacity in companies. What we need in Europe is not dotting the i on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but to ensure that we do not slide down the levels step by step and that the i dot floats in the air without an "i".

European economic policy must focus on the international competitiveness of European industry. It is not sufficient to consider and regulate the European Union only from the point of view of the internal market. The planned carbon border mechanism is such an example. It is intended to impose customs duties on imports that carry a high CO2 burden. This may protect the domestic market, but it does nothing at all to help export-oriented European industry such as the man-made fibers sector on the international world market, because European production costs remain too high by global standards despite the carbon border taxes.

The European Commission must increasingly recognize the European industry and with it the man-made fibers industry as problem solvers. Man-made fibers are indispensable as products for the energy turnaround (rotor blades for wind turbines), lightweight construction in mobility (lightweight car bodies in composite systems), sustainable road construction (geotextiles to reinforce the road surface and increase its service life), reduction of steel-reinforced concrete and thus cement, sand and gravel (reinforcement with high-tensile man-made fibers) and medical products (medical masks, bandaging materials, stents).

In Europe, we again need more market economy and no small-scale regulations that are adapted again and again and proliferate into an impenetrable thicket.

With all the wishes to politicians mentioned above, let me finally mention the following with regard to the current situation: In 1961, after the Berlin Wall was built, Russian and American tanks faced each other at Checkpoint Charlie at a distance of less than 50 meters, ready to fire.

A year later, in October 1962, nuclear-equipped American and Russian naval units met head-on in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both John F. Kennedy and Nikita S. Khrushchev - bitter rivals in the contest of political systems - were sensible enough at the time not to let the situation escalate.

At present, I wish our national, European and transatlantic politicians’ unconditional determination in the defense of our free democratic values, but I also appeal to all politicians worldwide to take to heart one of Albert Einstein's fundamental perceptions: "I don't know what weapons will be used in the Third World War. But I can tell you what they'll use in the Fourth - rocks!"

Source:

Textination

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Photo: Rostyslav Savchyn, Unsplash
22.03.2022

Again more Chinese company takeovers in Europe

  • Increase from 132 to 155 transactions - transaction value increases eightfold to 12.4 billion US dollars
  • Number of Chinese acquisitions in Germany rises from 28 to 35
  • UK most popular investment destination for Chinese companies followed by Germany

After the pandemic-related decline in Chinese company acquisitions in Europe in 2020, the number of transactions increased again in 2021: from 132 to 155. The transaction volume also increased: The value of investments and acquisitions has increased more than eightfold from $1.5 billion to $12.4 billion.

  • Increase from 132 to 155 transactions - transaction value increases eightfold to 12.4 billion US dollars
  • Number of Chinese acquisitions in Germany rises from 28 to 35
  • UK most popular investment destination for Chinese companies followed by Germany

After the pandemic-related decline in Chinese company acquisitions in Europe in 2020, the number of transactions increased again in 2021: from 132 to 155. The transaction volume also increased: The value of investments and acquisitions has increased more than eightfold from $1.5 billion to $12.4 billion.

Chinese investors also appeared more frequently again in Germany: After only 28 transactions by Chinese companies were counted in 2020, there were 35 of such investments or acquisitions in 2021. The investment volume rose from USD 0.4 billion to USD 2.0 billion. This figure does not include venture capital investments in German startups totaling USD 1.9 billion in 2021, in which Chinese companies were active as part of international investor groups.

These are the findings of a study by the audit and consulting firm EY, which examines investments by Chinese companies in Germany and Europe.

"Chinese companies remain cautious about investing in Europe overall," observes Yi Sun, partner and head of China Business Services in the Europe West region at EY. "One contributing factor is still the pandemic, which continued to cause disruptions in 2021 - partly because of mitigation measures such as travel restrictions, strict quarantine rules for people traveling to China from abroad, and lockdowns both in Europe and in China itself. Most Chinese companies that have already acquired companies abroad have been more concerned with restructuring in Europe in recent years rather than expanding further - especially in the automotive supply and machinery sectors."

According to Sun, the now high hurdles for foreign investments, especially in certain critical industries, as well as increasing competition from financial investors with strong capital, also had a dampening effect. "Purchase prices on the M&A market have risen sharply recently - in some cases, the Chinese interested parties didn't want to go along with that. Listed Chinese companies in particular fear putting pressure on their own share price with expensive acquisitions," Sun said. "In addition, some of the potential takeover candidates own production facilities or R&D centers in the US. In such cases, they may fear rejection by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) - and potential Chinese bidders may not even be invited."

Declining interest in industrial companies
Traditional industrial companies continue to account for the majority of deals - especially in Germany: 12 of the 35 transactions in Germany and 30 of the 155 transactions in Europe took place in the industrial sector.

However, their number is declining: In 2020, 36 industrial transactions were counted across Europe. "Chinese investors are still interested in European automotive suppliers or mechanical engineering companies - but now more in the subsectors of electromobility, autonomous driving and high-tech materials," says Sun.

However, Yi Sun identifies a significant increase in interest elsewhere: "Chinese private equity funds and venture capitalists are becoming increasingly active. In Germany in particular, there were some very large investments in startups last year in which Chinese investors were significantly involved. In addition to German engineering skills, e-commerce expertise is increasingly in demand."

High tech/software companies accounted for 27 transactions across Europe last year (previous year: 20). "We see an increased interest in game developers and software programmers, for example. Especially the most active Chinese investor last year, Tencent, has recently become heavily involved in this segment," observes Sun.

The number of acquisitions and investments in the healthcare sector also increased: from 16 to 26 transactions. "The healthcare sector - whether pharma, biotech or medical technology - is increasingly becoming one of the most important target sectors for Chinese companies because there is a lot of pent-up demand in this sector in China, especially in research and development."

Great Britain replaces Germany as top destination in Europe
Most transactions were recorded in the UK last year. With 36 acquisitions and investments, the UK is just ahead of Germany (35 transactions) and well ahead of the third-placed Netherlands (13).

In the previous year, the order at the top was reversed: in 2020, Germany with 28 transactions was ahead of the UK with 21 deals.

"To the extent that the interest of Chinese investors is moving away from classic industrial companies toward technology, software and media companies, the target market of Great Britain is gaining in importance," says Sun. However, she is convinced that Germany remains an attractive market for Chinese investors: "Many Chinese companies have had good experiences with their investments in Germany in particular. In addition, there are now close and resilient ties between China and Germany at many levels. We will see more Chinese transactions in Germany in the coming months - especially when the impact of the pandemic on the economy subsides," Sun expects.

The largest investment in Europe last year was the sale of Philips' home appliances division to Hong Kong-based investment firm Hillhouse Capital for $4.4 billion.

The second largest transaction was Tencent's acquisition of the British developer studio Sumo Digital for US$1.1 billion, followed by China International Marine Containers' takeover of the Danish reefer container manufacturer Maersk Container Industry for also US$1.1 billion.

Study Design:

  • Sources: EY research, Thomson ONE, Merger Market, communications from the companies or consulting firms and law firms involved.
  • Acquisitions and investments originating from companies headquartered in China and Hong Kong or their subsidiaries were examined.
  • The target companies are headquartered in Europe and are operationally active.
  • Pure real estate transactions were not included.
  • The analysis also included transactions that had not yet been completed as of the reporting date of Feb. 17, 2022

Increasingly, Chinese investors are also participating in venture capital financing rounds, mostly as part of investor groups. In these cases, it is often not possible to determine the amount provided by the Chinese investor. Therefore, these transactions are included in the number of transactions but not in the total values.

Source:

Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG)

Photo: Unsplash
15.03.2022

Heimtextil Conference: „Sleep & More“ in June

Sleep myths, corona fatigue and sustainable hotel room concepts of tomorrow: to coincide with the Day of Sleep on 21 June 2022, the Heimtextil Conference "Sleep & More" will begin and provide bed retailers and hospitality decision-makers with answers to the megatrend of "healthy sleep" over three days in Hall 3.0. Numerous key-
notes will highlight the latest findings in sleep research as well as important issues concerning the green future of the hotel bed.

The Day of Sleep on 21 June marks the start of the conference, which will take place on the first three days of this year's Heimtextil Summer Special. As a national day of action in Germany, the Day of Sleep was launched in 2000 on the initiative of the "Tag des Schlafes e.V." association and annually raises awareness of the importance of sleep and its impact on quality of life.
               
Keynotes at the Heimtextil Conference „Sleep & More“

Sleep myths, corona fatigue and sustainable hotel room concepts of tomorrow: to coincide with the Day of Sleep on 21 June 2022, the Heimtextil Conference "Sleep & More" will begin and provide bed retailers and hospitality decision-makers with answers to the megatrend of "healthy sleep" over three days in Hall 3.0. Numerous key-
notes will highlight the latest findings in sleep research as well as important issues concerning the green future of the hotel bed.

The Day of Sleep on 21 June marks the start of the conference, which will take place on the first three days of this year's Heimtextil Summer Special. As a national day of action in Germany, the Day of Sleep was launched in 2000 on the initiative of the "Tag des Schlafes e.V." association and annually raises awareness of the importance of sleep and its impact on quality of life.
               
Keynotes at the Heimtextil Conference „Sleep & More“

  • Markus Kamps, sleep consultant and founder of "Schlafkampagne," with insights into sleep myths and important help on the corona sleep effect
  • Dr. Hans-Günther Wees from the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine with the latest research findings
  • Carsten Schmid from Brainlit with insights into the importance of biocentric lighting
  • Jens Speil of MyCircul with the latest approaches to the use of tracking gadgets
  • Sleep consultant Eva Bovet of Betten Raab and managing director Thaela Schlosser of Feder & Bettenfachgeschäft on the successful use of podcasts
  • Bed expert Jens Rosenbaum with impulses on the sustainability potential of the hotel bed and green solutions from associations and industry for hotel rooms
  • Expert Julia von Klitzing from the Hotel Competence Center with reflections on the hospitality industry from the perspective of Generation Z

On Wednesday, visitors can look forward to a panel highlight: sleep consultant Eva Bovet from Betten Raab, Managing Director Thaela Schlosser from Feder & Bettenfachgeschäft and Markus Kamps will discuss how both bedding specialists and retailers can successfully use podcasts to tap into new target groups and win customers through accessible audio content formats. These and other keynotes will make the Heimtextil Conference 'Sleep & More' the place to go for representatives of the bedding trade, who can expect a top-class programme of lectures, discussion rounds and product presentations.
 
Sleep & More: New format builds a bridge to hospitality and sustainability
In addition to consulting and product offers for bed retailers, the new concept format "Sleep & More" also provides valuable orientation for hospitality decision-makers and highlights hospitality trends, especially from the perspective of sustainability: How can mattresses be part of the circular economy? And what will the sustainable hotel room of the future look like? Hospitality and sustainability experts pool the collective knowledge of the industry and provide visitors with inspiration and impulses for their future actions.
Bed expert Jens Rosenbaum from Swissfeel Germany, for example, will bridge the gap to the hotel industry in two keynotes and show how the sustainability potential of the hotel bed can be used and how associations and industry are working on solutions for a green future of the hotel room. Hotel industry expert Julia von Klitzing from the Hotel Competence Centre will look at the hospitality industry from the perspective of Generation Z and provide important insights into how the target group of tomorrow envisions their stay in hotels.    

A complete overview of these and numerous other speakers can be found here from April 2022.
What helps us sleep well and what is important for hotel beds to ensure that guests sleep well - we have put together to you the latest studies, recommendations and podcasts on the megatopic of healthy sleep. Sleep well! And join us now in looking forward to Heimtextil and a host of new products revolving around the mega-topic of healthy sleep.

More information:
Heimtextil Sleep & More
Source:

Heimtextil, Messe Frankfurt

Photo: Henning Rogge
09.03.2022

DRESSED. 7 WOMEN - 200 YEARS OF FASHION

  • Exhibition in Hamburg Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe: 25/02/ - 28/08/2022

  • Exhibition in Hamburg Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe: 25/02/ - 28/08/2022

Our wardrobe is among our most personal possessions. Nothing is closer to our bodies. Alongside its purely practical function, clothing is also a nuanced means of communication and self-expression. The exhibition DRESSED. 7 WOMEN – 200 YEARS OF FASHION presents seven fashion-conscious women and their wardrobes, ranging from the nineteenth century to the present day.
The spotlight is on the personalities and biographies of the wearers, who reveal themselves to be both performers and consumers of fashion. Whether haute couture, daywear, protest gear or avant-garde trends – what they chose to wear is every bit as diverse as their lifestyles. Their wardrobes tell of the status-consciousness of high-society wives, of an existence marked by illness, of “power dressing” for projecting confidence in the executive suite, of Hamburg’s punk scene, and of the aesthetics embraced by an art and design collector.
 
Rather than basing the selection on status or celebrity, the protagonists cover the greatest possible variety of women’s lifestyles and their expression through fashion. Around 150 garments and accessories from the Fashion and Textiles Collection at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MK&G) illuminate seven different walks of life and 200 years of fashion, women’s liberation and contemporary history. The fashion items were produced by famous designers, couturiers/couturières and fashion ateliers such as Maison Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Martin Margiela as well as by anonymous tailors and seamstresses. They are supplemented by biographical testimonies, photographs and documents.

„The idea of approaching not only fashion history but also the former wearers through the seven wardobes on display immediately excited me”, remarks Tulga Beyerle, director of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. “The narrative also goes beyond that and deals with a topic that is still relevant today: the changing role of women in society.”
 
Senator Dr Carsten Brosda says of the exhibition:” The history of clothing is the history of man. The history of fashion is the history of our social self-image. “Dressed” tells both the story of individual lives and the spirit of the times. The exhibition traces our understanding of aesthetics, the relationship between no-go’s and avant-garde, do’s and don’ts and as a whole is a symbol of possibilities. With the exhibition „Dressed”, the MK&G once again sensitises us to the social value of clothing in a time of material hyperconsumption.”
               
SEVEN PERSONALITIES – SEVEN WARDROBES
The earliest apparel ensemble, which once belonged to ELISE FRÄNCKEL (1807 – 1898), consists mainly of accessories and reveals the up to date fashion sense of the senator’s wife from Oldenburg in Holstein around 1820. The wardrobe of the diplomat’s wife EDITH VON MALTZAN FREIFRAU ZU WARTENBERG UND PENZLIN (1886 – 1976) includes elegant daywear and exquisite afternoon and evening attire from the years 1895 to 1950. The life and clothing of ERIKA HOLST (1917 – 1946) were shaped by war and her illness with tuberculosis. Dating from 1935 to 1945, her wardrobe contains mostly daywear. The Hamburg gallery owner and museum founder ELKE DRÖSCHER (b. 1941) wore almost exclusively pret-à-porter models by Yves Saint Laurent between 1968 and 1986, opting for a form of “power dressing”. INES ORTNER (b. 1968), active in Hamburg’s punk scene since the mid-1980s, combines an interest in fashion with a socio-critical stance in her ”self-constructed”, in some cases anarchic clothing objects. ANGELICA BLECHSCHMIDT (1942 – 2018), editor-in-chief of German Vogues from 1989 to 2002, clad herself in high-end products from international fashion houses as befitting position. Her “work uniform” consisted of little black dresses in combination with chunky costume jewellery. The art and design collector ANNE LÜHN (b. 1944) has over the years donated individual pieces from her wardrobe to MK&G. The often asymmetrical garments created by an international design avant-garde display an aesthetic of resistance.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF FASHION
The seven wardrobes selected for the show shed light on the development of fashion since the early nineteenth century. The items on view can be seen in one sense as an abstract succession of generations. The Second World War marked a clear turning point in terms of women’s opportunities, as revealed by the marital status and occupation of the carious women portrayed. Women born after 1940 were no longer confined to the role of mother, wife and house wife but were able to pursue their own professional goals. The garments also tell of contemporary political and social developments. The rigid corset disappeared after the First World War, roughly concurrently with the rise of women’s suffrage. The proliferation of trousers in women’s fashion from the 1970s onwards went hand in hand with the women’s liberation movement. And in the 1980s, an increasing plurality of clothing styles reflected developments in society at large.
          
CLOTHING AS AN ARCHIVE
The design of the exhibition is inspired by the concept of an archive. Reference is thus made to the museum’s mission of collecting and research but also to the archival function of clothing itself, which serves as a material but also to the archival function of clothing itself, which serves as a material witness to the history of design, technology and trade. At the same time, garments perpetuate the traces of individual bodies, movement and use, providing immaterial clues to the wearer’s aura and calling to mind notions of femininity, beauty and chic as well as personal and collective memories.
 
CLOTHING AS OBJECT OF DAILY USE
Garments are everyday items inscribed with signs of their use and of the body that wears them and bearing the marks of material wear and tear and of storage. These visible marks are just as unwelcome in private wardrobes as they are in museum collections – and yet they prove to be extremely valuable as evidence for object-based research. The exhibition therefore also shows objects with clear signs of wear and provides information about their state of preservation.

CLOTHING AS A MEANS OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
Clothing norms and dress codes depend on factors such as age, gender, body shape, occasion, location, status and social group. We already start learning in childhood how to navigate this maze of rules and find the right mix for ourselves between conformity and individuality. As demonstrated by the biographies recounted here, fashion and a preoccupation with how we look is even today primarily a topic for women and people who read as female. Women are judged more by their appearance that their male counterparts and
are held to account more harshly for ostensible “mistakes” in how they present themselves. The role dress plays in social communication cannot be overestimated. Its effect is immediate. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we send and receive signals with our clothes bodies – not to communicate is impossible.

FASION HOUSES AND DESIGNERS REPRESENTED
The exhibition provides a detailed look at high-quality items of clothing in the MK&G collection along with glimpses of the creative work of a wide range of both anonymous makers and famous national and international fashion designers, couturiers/couturières and ateliers, including Georges Doeuillet, Romeo Gigli, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, Alice Lanot, Emilienne Manassé, Maison Martin Margiela, Issey Miyake, Rick Owens, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, Worth, Yohji Yamamoto and others.

CATALOGUE
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue of the same name, published by Hirmer Verlag Munich, edited by Turga Beyerle and Angelika Riley, and with essays by Claire Beermann, Turga Beyerle, Joanne Entwistle, Birgit Haase, Peter Kempe, Ingrid E. Mida, Angelika Riley and Maria Stavel, and photographs ny Anne Schönharting. In German with two essays in English, ca. 250 pages, ca. 475 colour illustrations, 90 of them full-page plates, 49.90 Euro.

Ingo Offermanns (Hamburg) is responsible for the graphic design of the catalogue and exhibition. The exhibition architecture is the work of designer and scenographer Katleen Arthen (Berlin).

EDUCTAIONAL PROGRAMM
As part of the exhibition, the MK&G is organising numerous analogue and digital guided tours, including the exhibition tour “With Pen and paper” – a drawing workshop on the seven wardrobes on display with the artist Anne Pflug. You can participate in the exhibition via MK6G’s social media channels: Which favourite piece of clothing should be preserved for posterity? The best photos and stories that are shared with MK&G links can be seen digitally in the exhibition shortly afterwards. More information on the event programme on the website under CALENDAR.

The exhibition is made possible by funds from the Exhibition Fund of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Hubertus Wald Foundation and the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation.

Source:

Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe, Hamburg

Nicolas Meletiou, Pixabay
01.03.2022

Textiles and the environment: the role of design in Europe’s circular economy

From the perspective of European consumption, textiles have on average the fourth highest negative life cycle impact on the environment and climate change, after food, housing and mobility. A shift to a circular textile production and consumption system with longer use, and more reuse and recycling could reduce those impacts along with reductions in overall consumption. One important measure is circular design of textiles to improve product durability, repairability and recyclability and to ensure the uptake of secondary raw materials in new products.

Key messages

From the perspective of European consumption, textiles have on average the fourth highest negative life cycle impact on the environment and climate change, after food, housing and mobility. A shift to a circular textile production and consumption system with longer use, and more reuse and recycling could reduce those impacts along with reductions in overall consumption. One important measure is circular design of textiles to improve product durability, repairability and recyclability and to ensure the uptake of secondary raw materials in new products.

Key messages

  • In 2019, the EU textile and clothing sector had a turnover of EUR162 billion, employing over 1.5 million people across 160,000 companies. As was the case in many sectors, between 2019 and 2020, the COVID-19 crisis decreased turnover by 9% for textiles as a whole and by 17% for clothing.
  • In 2020, textile consumption in Europe had on average the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change from a global life cycle perspective. It was the consumption area with the third highest impact on water and land use, and the fifth highest in terms of raw material use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • To reduce the environmental impacts of textiles, a shift towards circular business models, including circular design, is crucial. This will need technical, social and business model innovation, as well as behavioural change and policy support.
  • Circular design is an important enabler of the transition towards sustainable production and consumption of textiles through circular business models. The design phase plays a critical role in each of the four pathways to achieving a circular textile sector: longevity and durability; optimised resource use; collection and reuse; and recycling and material use.

Textiles are identified as a key value chain in the EU circular economy action plan and will be addressed in the forthcoming European Commission’s 2022 EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles and EU sustainable products initiative. This briefing aims to improve our understanding of the environmental and climate impacts of textiles from a European perspective and to identify design principles and measures to increase circularity in textiles. It is underpinned by a report from the EEA’s European Topic Centre on Circular Economy and Resource Use available here.

1. Production, trade and consumption of textiles
Textiles is an important sector for the EU economy. In 2019, the EU textile and clothing sector had a turnover of EUR162 billion, employing over 1.5 million people in 160,000 companies. As was the case for many sectors, between 2019 and 2020, the COVID-19 health and economic crisis decreased turnover by 9% for textiles as a whole and by 17% for clothing (Euratex, 2021).

In 2020, 6.9 million tonnes of finished textile products were produced in the EU-27. EU production specialises in carpets, household textiles and other textiles (including non-woven textiles, technical and industrial textiles, ropes and fabrics). In addition to finished products, the EU produces intermediate products for textiles, such as fibres, yarns and fabrics (Köhler et al., 2021).

The textiles sector is labour intensive compared with others. Almost 13 million full-time equivalent workers were employed worldwide in the supply chain to produce the amount of clothing, textiles and footwear consumed in the EU-27 in 2020. This makes the textiles sector the third largest employer worldwide, after food and housing. Most production takes place in Asia, where low production costs come at the expense of workers’ health and safety.
 
Textiles are highly globalised, with Europe being a significant importer and exporter. In 2020, 8.7 million tonnes of finished textile products, with a value of EUR125 billion, were imported into the EU-27. Clothing accounts for 45% of imports in terms of volume, followed by household textiles, other textiles and footwear (Eurostat, 2021a). The EU imports mainly from China, Bangladesh and Turkey, and exports mainly to the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the United States (Euratex, 2020).

Consumption
European households consume large amounts of textile products. In 2019, as in 2018, Europeans spent on average EUR600 on clothing, EUR150 on footwear and EUR70 on household textiles (Köhler et al., 2021; Eurostat, 2021b).

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic, involving stay-at-home measures and the closure of companies and shops, decreased textile production and demand overall (Euratex, 2021). As a result, the consumption of clothing and footwear per person decreased in 2020, relative to 2019, while the consumption of household textiles slightly increased. Average textile consumption per person amounted to 6.0kg of clothing, 6.1kg of household textiles and 2.7kg of shoes in 2020 (see Figure 1).

Apart from this COVID-related drop in consumption in 2020, the estimated consumption of clothing and footwear stayed relatively constant over the last decade, with slight fluctuations between years (see Figure 2). Similarly, the consumption of household textiles was also relatively steady, with a slight increase over the decade.

When calculating the ‘estimated consumption’ based on production and trade data from 2020, and excluding industrial/technical textiles and carpets, total textile consumption is 15kg per person per year, consisting of, on average:

  • 6.0kg of clothing
  • 6.1kg of household textiles
  • 2.7kg footwear.

For 2020, this amounts to a total consumption of 6.6 million tonnes of textile products in Europe. Textile consumption estimates are uncertain, as they vary by study, often using different scopes and calculation methods.

2. Environmental and climate impacts of textiles
The production and consumption of textiles has significant impacts on the environment and climate change. Environmental impacts in the production phase result from the cultivation and production of natural fibres such as cotton, hemp and linen (e.g. use of land and water, fertilisers and pesticides) and from the production of synthetic fibres such as polyester and elastane (e.g. energy use, chemical feedstock) (ETC/WMGE, 2021b). Manufacturing textiles requires large amounts of energy and water and uses a variety of chemicals across various production processes. Distribution and retail are responsible for transport emissions and packaging waste.

During use and maintenance — washing, drying and ironing — electricity, water and detergents are used. Chemicals and microfibres are also emitted into the waste water. Meanwhile, textiles contribute to significant amounts of textile waste. At the end of their life, textiles often end up in general waste and are incinerated or landfilled. When textile waste is collected separately, textiles are sorted and reused, recycled or disposed of, depending on their quality and material composition. In 2017, it was estimated that less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new products (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017).

To illustrate the magnitude of the impacts of textile consumption on raw material use, water and land use and greenhouse gas emissions compared with other consumption categories, we have updated our calculations of the life cycle environmental and climate impacts in the EU. We used input-output modelling based on data from the Exiobase database and Eurostat. In line with the reduced textile consumption level in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the environmental impacts decreased from 2019 to 2020.

Raw material use
Large amounts of raw materials are used for textile production. To produce all clothing, footwear and household textiles purchased by EU households in 2020, an estimated 175 million tonnes of primary raw materials were used, amounting to 391kg per person. Roughly 40% of this is attributable to clothes, 30% to household textiles and 30% to footwear. This ranks textiles as the fifth highest consumption category in Europe in terms of primary raw material use (see Figure 3).

The raw materials used include all types of materials used in producing natural and synthetic fibres, such as fossil fuels, chemicals and fertilisers. It also includes all building materials, minerals and metals used in the construction of production facilities. Transport and retail of the textile products are included as well. Only 20% of these primary raw materials are produced or extracted in Europe, with the remainder extracted outside Europe. This shows the global nature of the textiles value chain and the high dependency of European consumption on imports. This implies that 80% of environmental impacts generated by Europe’s textile consumption takes place outside Europe. For example, cotton farming, fibre production and garment construction mostly take place in Asia (ETC/WMGE, 2019).

Water use
Producing and handling textiles requires large quantities of water. Water use distinguishes between ‘blue’ water (surface water or groundwater consumed or evaporated during irrigation, industry processes or household use) and ‘green’ water (rain water stored in the soil, typically used to grow crops) (Hoekstra et al., 2012).

To produce all clothing, footwear and household textiles purchased by EU households in 2020, about 4,000 million m³ of blue water were required, amounting to 9m³ per person, ranking textiles’ water consumption in third place, after food and recreation and culture (see Figure 4).

Additionally, about 20,000 million m³ of green water was used, mainly for producing cotton, which amounts to 44m³ per person. Blue water is used fairly equally in producing clothing (40%), footwear (30%) and household and other textiles (30%). Green water is mainly consumed in producing clothing (almost 50%) and household textiles (30%), of which cotton production consumes the most.

Water consumption for textiles consumed in Europe mostly takes place outside Europe. It is estimated that producing 1kg of cotton requires about 10m³ of water, typically outside Europe (Chapagain et al., 2006).

Land use
Producing textiles, in particular natural textiles, requires large amounts of land. The land used in the supply chain of textiles purchased by European households in 2020 is estimated at 180,000 km², or 400m² per person. Only 8% of the land used is in Europe. Over 90% of the land use impact occurs outside Europe, mostly related to (cotton) fibre production in China and India (ETC/WMGE, 2019). Animal-based fibres, such as wool, also have a significant land use impact (Lehmann et al., 2018). This makes textiles the sector with the third highest impact on land use, after food and housing (see Figure 5). Of this, 43% is attributable to clothes, 35% to footwear (including leather shoes, which have a high land use impact because of the need for cattle pasture) and 23% to household and other textiles.

Greenhouse gas emissions
The production and consumption of textiles generate greenhouse gas emissions, in particular from resource extraction, production, washing and drying, and waste incineration. In 2020, producing textile products consumed in the EU generated greenhouse gas emissions of 121 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in total, or 270kg CO2e per person. This makes textiles the household consumption domain responsible for the fifth largest impact on climate change, after housing, food, transport and mobility, and recreation and culture (see Figure 6). Of this, 50% is attributable to clothes, 30% to household and other textiles, and 20% to footwear. While greenhouse gas emissions have a global effect, almost 75% are released outside Europe, mainly in the important textile-producing regions in Asia (ETC/WMGE, 2019).

About 80% of the total climate change impact of textiles occurs in the production phase. A further 3% occurs in distribution and retail, 14% in the use phase (washing, drying and ironing), and 3% during end of life (collection, sorting, recycling, incineration and disposal) (ECOS, 2021; Östlund et al., 2020).

Textiles made from natural fibres, such as cotton, generally have the lowest climate impact. Those made from synthetic fibres (especially nylon and acrylic) generally have a higher climate impact because of their fossil fuel origin and the energy consumed during production (ETC/WMGE, 2021b; Beton et al., 2014).

3. Design as an enabler of circular business models for textiles
To reduce the environmental and climate change impacts of textiles, shifting towards circular business models is crucial to save on raw materials, energy, water and land use, emissions and waste (ETC/WMGE, 2019). Implementing and scaling circular business models requires technical, social and business model innovation; as well as enablers from policy, consumption and education (EEA, 2021).

Circular design is an important component of circular business models for textiles. It can ensure higher quality, longer lifetimes, better use of materials, and better options for reuse and recycling. While it is important to enable the recycling and reuse of materials, life-extending strategies, such as design for durability, ease of reuse, repair and remanufacturing, should be prioritised. Preventing the use of hazardous chemicals and limiting toxic emissions and release of microplastics at all life cycle stages should be incorporated into product design.

Designing for circularity is the most recent development in design for sustainability. Expanding a technical and product-centric focus to a focus on large-scale system-level changes (considering both production and consumption systems) shows that this latest development requires many more disciplines than traditional engineering design. Product design as a component of a circular business model depends on consumer behaviour and policy to realise its potential and enable implementation. Figure 7 shows the linkages between the circular business model, product design, consumer behaviour and policy. All are needed to slow down and close the loop, making it circular.

(c) Ligne Roset
22.02.2022

Home textile trends for 2022: A craving for constancy

Sometimes loud, sometimes very gentle – but always on the move: the world of textiles has real expertise in the art of the quick change. The home textile trends for 2022 see nature quietly and discreetly settling inside our homes, making a clear statement – it’s time to take a fresh look at familiar things.

Home textile trends for 2022: back to basics
Before the pandemic, our homes were just one part of our lives. We spent much of the day out and about. The coronavirus pandemic changed all that. Many people spent more time within their own four walls than ever before – our homes took on a central role in our lives. “Home living” became an inescapable theme last year. In times when instability seems to be everywhere, many people switch their focus to the essentials and crave security and peace, turning their homes into a natural refuge where they can recharge their batteries. This trend is also influencing the interiors and lifestyle sector.

Sometimes loud, sometimes very gentle – but always on the move: the world of textiles has real expertise in the art of the quick change. The home textile trends for 2022 see nature quietly and discreetly settling inside our homes, making a clear statement – it’s time to take a fresh look at familiar things.

Home textile trends for 2022: back to basics
Before the pandemic, our homes were just one part of our lives. We spent much of the day out and about. The coronavirus pandemic changed all that. Many people spent more time within their own four walls than ever before – our homes took on a central role in our lives. “Home living” became an inescapable theme last year. In times when instability seems to be everywhere, many people switch their focus to the essentials and crave security and peace, turning their homes into a natural refuge where they can recharge their batteries. This trend is also influencing the interiors and lifestyle sector.

Pure nature in colour and form
The connection between nature and home living is becoming increasingly important when it comes to textile design. It’s a matter of creating a symbiosis between natural materials, colours and textiles to infuse rooms with a warm atmosphere. Soft textures, amorphous shapes and muted earthy tones define the home textile trends for 2022.

Rediscovering the classics: bouclé & corduroy
When most people think of bouclé, the first image that springs to mind is probably the world-famous and timeless Coco Chanel suit from the 1950s. In the 1980s and 1990s, the fabric disappeared from the trend radar. But this year it’s celebrating a fantastic comeback in interior design. Bouclé hits just the right spot between soft and hard-wearing. The upholstery is typically made of cotton and is especially durable. Whether on a sofa, armchair, cushion or as curtains, bouclé fabric is a real all-rounder and gives any room a cosy vibe. Paired with wood or metal, it softens the more hard-edged elements.

Another tactile highlight from days gone by is enjoying a revival, too – corduroy. A timeless classic that is quite rightly settling back in to our homes. Its soft structure means the fabric is well-suited for sofas and seating furniture of various kinds, with its characteristic vertical furrows making the material particularly exciting. And best of all, corduroy fits into any interior design style with ease – contrary to its stereotype of being stuffy.

A mix & match of natural materials and shapes
Natural materials like linen, wool and wood immediately lend an organic, vibrant quality to any home. The natural connection is especially apparent from last year’s DIY boom, with many walls now adorned by macramé – decorative art made by knotting wool. Cushions and blankets made of woven and braided wool in muted cream tones also create a natural and cosy look. Organic patterns and structures inspired by nature are now a must in every home.

Catapulted straight into the 2022 textile trends from the fashion world, “organic camouflage” gives camo patterns a makeover. In warm earth and pastel shades, this on-trend motif calls to mind soft, sandy beaches, the sea or the forest. On a rug or a cushion, “organic camouflage” creates a vibrant look when paired with a low-key couch.

Take the plunge with bold patterns
Whether on wallpaper, rugs or accessories, floral prints in sumptuous colour combinations are still in fashion when it comes to fabric design. In dark shades of green, they forge an elegant connection to nature, and dramatic floral prints on wallpaper make a statement in any room. But even small accessories and decorative elements like floral cushions or blankets on a monochrome sofa or armchair can have a big impact. Combined with light hues and patterns, the overall result is a harmonious interplay of colours and textures. Alongside floral textiles, upholstered furniture with geometric prints is a trend that demands the courage to be different. Large and small geometric patterns add depth to any material and are an artful way of bringing life into the home.

Sustainable materials and textiles
The global sustainability trend also raises questions concerning textile production. Where does the product come from? Is the manufacturing process environmentally friendly? The textile industry has responded with fabrics made from recycled polyester or resource-friendly hemp, cork as a substitute for wood, or fair-trade organic cotton. Alternatives to animal-derived fabrics are also becoming more common in the textile industry. Vegetarian or vegan leather can be produced from many natural resources, from apples and pineapples to mushrooms and cacti. The range of sustainable and environmentally friendly textiles has expanded in recent years and is expected to continue to grow.

Source:

imm cologne / Koelnmesse

Photo: pixabay
15.02.2022

Advanced Fibers: When damaged ropes change color

High-performance fibres that have been exposed to high temperatures usually lose their mechanical properties undetected and, in the worst case, can tear precisely when lives depend on them. For example, safety ropes used by fire brigades or suspension ropes for heavy loads on construction sites. Empa researchers have now developed a coating that changes color when exposed to high temperatures through friction or fire.

The firefighter runs into the burning building and systematically searches room by room for people in need of rescue. Attached to him is a safety rope at the other end of which his colleagues are waiting outside in front of the building. In an emergency - should he lose consciousness for any reason - they can pull him out of the building or follow him into the building for rescue. However, if this rope has been exposed to excessive heat during previous operations, it may tear apart. This means danger to life!

High-performance fibres that have been exposed to high temperatures usually lose their mechanical properties undetected and, in the worst case, can tear precisely when lives depend on them. For example, safety ropes used by fire brigades or suspension ropes for heavy loads on construction sites. Empa researchers have now developed a coating that changes color when exposed to high temperatures through friction or fire.

The firefighter runs into the burning building and systematically searches room by room for people in need of rescue. Attached to him is a safety rope at the other end of which his colleagues are waiting outside in front of the building. In an emergency - should he lose consciousness for any reason - they can pull him out of the building or follow him into the building for rescue. However, if this rope has been exposed to excessive heat during previous operations, it may tear apart. This means danger to life!

And up to now there has been no way of noticing this damage to the rope. 2021 a team of researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich has developed a coating which changes color due to the physical reaction with heat, thus clearly indicating whether a rope will continue to provide the safety it promises in the future.

Researchers from ETH Zurich and Empa developed a coating system in 2018 as part of a Master's thesis, which the Empa team was now able to apply to fibers. "It was a process involving several steps," says Dirk Hegemann from Empa's Advances Fibers lab. The first coatings only worked on smooth surfaces, so the method first had to be adapted so that it would also work on curved surfaces. Empa has extensive know-how in the coating of fibers - Hegemann and his team have already developed electrically conductive fibers in the past. The so-called sputtering process has now also been successfully applied to the latest coating.

Three layers are required to ensure that the fiber actually changes color when heated. The researchers apply silver to the fibre itself, in this case PET (i.e. polyester) and VectranTM, a high-tech fibre. This serves as a reflector - in other words, as a metallic base layer. This is followed by an intermediate layer of titanium nitrogen oxide, which ensures that the silver remains stable. And only then follows the amorphous layer that causes the color change: Germanium-antimony tellurium (GST), which is just 20 nanometers thick. When this layer is exposed to elevated temperatures, it crystallizes, changing the color from blue to white. The colour change is based on a physical phenomenon known as interference. Two different waves (e.g. light) meet and amplify or weaken each other. Depending on the chemical composition of the temperature-sensitive layer, this color change can be adjusted to a temperature range between 100 and 400 degrees and thus adapted to the mechanical properties of the fiber type.

Tailor-made solutions
The possible areas of application for the colour-changing fibres are still open, and Hegemann is currently looking for possible project partners. In addition to safety equipment for firefighters or mountaineers, the fibres can also be used for load ropes in production facilities, on construction sites, etc. In any case, research on the subject is far from complete. At present, it is not yet possible to store the fibers for long periods of time without losing their functionality. "Unfortunately, the phase-change materials oxidize over the course of a few months," says Hegemann. This means that the corresponding phase change - crystallization - no longer takes place, even with heat, and the rope thus loses its "warning signal". In any case, it has been proven that the principle works, and durability is a topic for future research, says Hegemann. "As soon as the first partners from industry register their interest in our own products, the fibers can be further optimized according to their needs".

Information:
Dr. Dirk Hegemann
Advanced Fibers
Tel. +41 58 765 7268
Dirk.Hegemann@empa.ch

More information:
Empa Fibers Ropes temperature
Source:

EMPA, Andrea Six

(c) Empa
08.02.2022

Early detection of dementia with a textile belt

Alzheimer's and other dementias are among the most widespread diseases today. Diagnosis is complex and can often only be established with certainty late in the course of the disease. A team of Empa researchers, together with clinical partners, is now developing a new diagnostic tool that can detect the first signs of neurodegenerative changes using a sensor belt.

Forgetfulness and confusion can be signs of a currently incurable ailment: Alzheimer's disease. It is the most common form of dementia that currently affect around 50 million people worldwide. It mainly afflicts older people. The fact that this number will increase sharply in the future is therefore also related to the general increase in life expectancy.

Alzheimer's and other dementias are among the most widespread diseases today. Diagnosis is complex and can often only be established with certainty late in the course of the disease. A team of Empa researchers, together with clinical partners, is now developing a new diagnostic tool that can detect the first signs of neurodegenerative changes using a sensor belt.

Forgetfulness and confusion can be signs of a currently incurable ailment: Alzheimer's disease. It is the most common form of dementia that currently affect around 50 million people worldwide. It mainly afflicts older people. The fact that this number will increase sharply in the future is therefore also related to the general increase in life expectancy.

If dementia is suspected, neuropsychological examinations, laboratory tests and demanding procedures in the hospital are required. However, the first neurodegenerative changes in the brain occur decades before a reduced cognitive ability becomes apparent. Currently, these can only be detected by expensive or invasive procedures. These methods are thus not suitable for extensive early screenings on a larger scale. Empa researchers are working with partners from the Cantonal Hospital and the Geriatric Clinic in St. Gallen on a non-invasive diagnostic method that detects the early processes of dementia.

Signs in the unconscious
For the new method, the researchers Patrick Eggenberger and Simon Annaheim from Empa's Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles lab in St. Gallen relied on a sensor belt that has already been used successfully for ECG measurements and has now been equipped with sensors for other relevant parameters such as body temperature and gait pattern. This is because long before memory starts to deteriorate in dementia, subtle changes appear in the brain, which are expressed through unconscious bodily reactions.

These changes can only be recorded precisely when measurements are taken over a longer period of time, though. "It should be possible to integrate the long-term measurements into everyday life," explains Simon Annaheim. Skin-friendly and comfortable monitoring systems are essential for measurements that are suitable for everyday use. The diagnostic belt is therefore based on flexible sensors with electrically conductive or light-conducting fibers as well as sensors for motion and temperature measurement.

To enable such long-term measurements to be used for monitoring neurocognitive health, the researchers are integrating the collected data into in-house developed mathematical models. The goal: an early warning system that can estimate the progression of cognitive impairment. Another advantage is that the data measurements can be integrated into telemonitoring solutions and can thus improve patient care in their familiar environment.

Suspicious monotony
The human body is able to keep its temperature constant in a range of 1 degree Celsius. The values naturally oscillate in the course of the day. This daily rhythm changes with age and is conspicuous in neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Parkinson's disease. In Alzheimer's patients, for example, the core body temperature is elevated by up to 0.2 degrees Celsius. At the same time, the spikes in daily temperature fluctuations are dampened.

In a study, the researchers have now been able to show that altered skin temperature readings measured with the sensor belt actually provide an indication of the cognitive performance of test subjects – and can do so well before dementia develops. The test subjects in the study included healthy people with or without mild brain impairment. This mild cognitive impairment (MCI) does not represent a disability in everyday life, but it is considered a possible precursor to Alzheimer's disease. The subjects took part in long-term measurements and neuropsychological tests. It was found that a lower body temperature, which fluctuated more throughout the day, was linked to a better cognitive performance. In individuals with MCI, body temperature varied less and was slightly elevated overall.

The heartbeat is also subject to natural variations that show how our nervous system adapts to sudden challenges. The small silence between two heartbeats, about one second in duration, has great significance for our health: If this pause always remains the same, our nervous system is not at its best.

A study by researchers from ETH Zurich determined that poorer measurements in older, healthy people can be improved within six months through cognitive-motor dance training. In these "exergames," the test subjects imitated sequences of steps from a video. In contrast, participants who instead only trained in straight lines on a treadmill, but also trained their memory, benefited less.

"The point is to intervene early with appropriate training as soon as the first negative signs can be measured," says Patrick Eggenberger. "With our sensor system, any improvements in cognitive performance can be tracked through movement-based forms of therapy." Studies with long-term monitoring will now be used to clarify how the sensor measurements can be used to predict the progression of mild brain disorders.

Further information
Dr. Simon Annaheim
Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles   
Phone +41 58 765 77 68
Simon.Annaheim@empa.ch

More information:
Empa Membrane Medical & Healthcare
Source:

EMPA, Andrea Six

Photo: pixabay, Hilary Clark
01.02.2022

Cotton Fibers 2.0: Fireproof and comfortable

A new chemical process developed by Empa turns cotton into a fire-resistant fabric, that nevertheless retains the skin-friendly properties of cotton.

Conventional flame retardant cotton textiles suffer from release of formaldehyde and are uncomfortable to wear. Empa scientists managed to circumvent this problem by creating a physically and chemically independent network of flame retardants inside the fibers. This approach retains the inherently positive properties of cotton fibers, which account for three-quarters of the world's demand for natural fibers in clothing and home textiles. Cotton is skin-friendly because it can absorb considerable amounts of water and maintain a favorable microclimate on the skin.

A new chemical process developed by Empa turns cotton into a fire-resistant fabric, that nevertheless retains the skin-friendly properties of cotton.

Conventional flame retardant cotton textiles suffer from release of formaldehyde and are uncomfortable to wear. Empa scientists managed to circumvent this problem by creating a physically and chemically independent network of flame retardants inside the fibers. This approach retains the inherently positive properties of cotton fibers, which account for three-quarters of the world's demand for natural fibers in clothing and home textiles. Cotton is skin-friendly because it can absorb considerable amounts of water and maintain a favorable microclimate on the skin.

For firefighters and other emergency service personnel, protective clothing provides the most important barrier. For such purposes, cotton is mainly used as an inner textile layer that needs additional properties: For example, it must be fireproof or protect against biological contaminants. Nevertheless, it should not be hydrophobic, which would create an uncomfortable microclimate. These additional properties can be built into the cotton fibers by suitable chemical modifications.

Durability vs. toxicity
"Until now, it has always taken a compromise to make cotton fireproof," says Sabyasachi Gaan, a chemist and polymer expert who works at Empa's Advanced Fibers lab. Wash-durable flame retardant cotton in industry is produced by treating the fabric with flame retardants, which chemically links to the cellulose in the cotton. Currently, the textile industry has no other choice than to utilize formaldehyde-based chemicals – and formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen. This has been an unsolved problem for decades. While formaldehyde-based flame retardant treatments are durable, they have additional drawbacks: The -OH groups of cellulose are chemically blocked, which considerably reduces the capability of cotton to absorb water, which results in an uncomfortable textile.

Gaan knows the chemistry of cotton fibers well and has spent many years at Empa developing flame retardants based on phosphorus chemistry that are already used in many industrial applications. Now he has succeeded in finding an elegant and easy way to anchor phosphorous in form of an independent network inside the cotton.

Independent network between cotton fibers
Gaan and his colleagues Rashid Nazir, Dambarudhar Parida and Joel Borgstädt utilized a tri-functional phosphorous compound (trivinylphosphine oxide), which has the capability of reacting only with specifically added molecules (nitrogen compounds like piperazin) to form its own network inside cotton. This makes the cotton permanently fire-resistant without blocking the favorable -OH groups. In addition, the physical phosphine oxide network also likes water. This flame retardant treatment does not include carcinogenic formaldehyde, which would endanger textile workers during textile manufacturing. The phosphine oxide networks, thus formed, does not wash out: After 50 launderings, 95 percent of the flame retardant network is still present in the fabric.

To render additional protective functionalities to the flame retardant cotton developed at Empa, the researchers also incorporated in situ generated silver nanoparticles inside the fabric. This works nicely in a one-step process together with generating the phosphine oxide networks. Silver nanoparticles provide the fiber with antimicrobial properties and survive 50 laundry cycles, too.

A high-tech solution from the pressure cooker
"We have used a simple approach to fix the phosphine oxide networks inside the cellulose," Gaan says. "For our lab experiments, we first treated the cotton with an aqueous solution of phosphorus and nitrogen compounds and then steamed it in a readily available pressure cooker to facilitate the crosslinking reaction of the phosphorus and the nitrogen molecules." The application process is compatible with equipment used in the textile industry. "Steaming textiles after dyeing, printing and finishing is a normal step in textile industry. So it doesn't require an additional investment to apply our process," states the Empa chemist.

Meanwhile, this newly developed phosphorus chemistry and its application is protected by a patent application. "Two important hurdles remain," Gaan says. "For future commercialization we need to find a suitable chemical manufacturer who can produce and supply trivinylphosphine oxide. In addition, trivinylphosphine oxide has to be REACH-registered in Europe."

Contact:
Dr. Sabyasachi Gaan
Advanced Fibers
Phone: +41 58 765 7611
sabyasachi.gaan@empa.ch
 
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Manfred Heuberger
Advanced Fibers
Phone: +41 58 765 7878
manfred.heuberger@empa.ch

A gel that releases drugs
The novel phosphorus chemistry can also be used to develop other materials, e.g. to make hydrogels that can release drugs upon changes in pH. Such gels could find application in treating wounds that heal slowly. In such wounds, the pH of the skin surface increases and the new phosphorus-based gels can be triggered to release medication or a dye that alerts doctors and nurses to the problem. Empa has also patented the production of such hydrogels.

Source:

EMPA, Rainer Klose

Photo: pixabay
25.01.2022

momox fashion presents Second Hand Fashion Report 2022

  • Representative study with almost 8,000 participants regarding the second hand fashion market in Germany
  • Second hand replaces new: 84 percent have bought less new goods due to second hand shopping
  • 71 percent have spent less money on new goods because they have bought second-hand clothing
  • For just under one in two (45 percent), buying second-hand clothing has become a matter of course
  • When buying second-hand fashion, sustainable production is more important (60 percent) than the brand name (48 percent)

Second hand replaces new - that's what 84 percent of second hand shoppers in Germany say, stating that buying second hand items has replaced buying a new clothing item for them.

  • Representative study with almost 8,000 participants regarding the second hand fashion market in Germany
  • Second hand replaces new: 84 percent have bought less new goods due to second hand shopping
  • 71 percent have spent less money on new goods because they have bought second-hand clothing
  • For just under one in two (45 percent), buying second-hand clothing has become a matter of course
  • When buying second-hand fashion, sustainable production is more important (60 percent) than the brand name (48 percent)

Second hand replaces new - that's what 84 percent of second hand shoppers in Germany say, stating that buying second hand items has replaced buying a new clothing item for them. Another 71 percent state that they have spent less money on clothing because they have bought used items.** These are the results of the current Second Hand Fashion Report 2022, for which the second hand online store momox fashion has conducted two studies for the third time in a row: A representative survey in cooperation with the market research institute Kantar as well as a customer survey among momox fashion customers to get detailed insights into the second hand clothing market. A total of 7,826 people took part in the surveys.

Buying second hand clothes has become a matter of course for every second person
The representative Kantar survey shows that buying second-hand clothing has become routine: 67 percent of Germans have already bought second-hand clothing at some point - an increase of eleven percent on the previous year. More than one in two (56 percent) do so regularly - at least once a year. For 45 percent, buying second-hand clothing has become a matter of course or very much a matter of course. In addition, more than half of Germans (53 percent) estimate that their closet consists of up to 20 percent second-hand clothing.*

Second hand clothing is not only shopped online, but also sold
The most popular way to buy used clothing is online shopping: 44 percent of respondents buy their second-hand fashion pieces online. Around one in three (28 percent) go to second-hand stores in search of their next favorite second-hand item, followed by flea markets with 14 percent. Surprisingly, the 50+ generation in particular likes to buy online (44 percent). Generation Z (under 25s), however, prefers second-hand stores (30 percent).*

But it is not only second-hand online shopping that is popular. Almost one in two (45 percent) resells used clothing, preferably online (76 percent). Only 11 percent sell at flea markets and 8 percent at second-hand stores.*

Sustainability remains main motivation for buying used clothing
To find out more about the reasons for buying second-hand clothing, momox fashion conducted a customer survey among almost 7,000 participants. The main motivation for buying second-hand clothing continues to be the sustainability aspect with 87 percent. 83 percent buy second-hand clothing because of the price savings compared to new goods. Around one in two (49 percent) goes in search of clothing in second-hand stores because the desired items are no longer available in regular stores.**

Almost all respondents (91 percent) generally consider sustainability and environmental protection to be important or very important when buying clothing. This is also reflected in consumer behavior: Around three quarters (85 percent) try to buy second-hand whenever possible. 58 percent make sure to purchase sustainable clothing. And 31 percent use environmentally friendly products for the care and cleaning of clothing.**

Sustainable production or brand name - which is more important?
For more than half (51 percent) of the respondents, the brand name is less important or unimportant when buying used clothing. Whether the clothing was produced sustainably, on the other hand, is considered by 60 percent to be very important or important. Especially for the 60+ generation (75 percent), sustainable production of second-hand clothing is very important or important.**

Second hand clothing is especially popular among parents
However, second-hand clothing is not only bought for oneself, almost every fifth person (18 percent) also buys it for his/her children.* Among the parents of the second-hand shoppers, 85 percent buy second-hand clothing for their children. Online stores (58 percent) and online marketplaces and second-hand online stores (51 percent) are the most popular. 43 percent buy used children's clothing from friends. 33 percent like to go shopping in second-hand stores and another 23 percent in stationary children's clothing stores. At the same time, 63 percent of respondents say they buy more second-hand clothing since becoming parents.**

Jackets and coats are second hand top sellers
Second-hand jackets and coats (70 percent) are the most popular items, followed by sweaters (60 percent), dresses and skirts (56 percent) and pants (49 percent). Pants and sweaters seem to have become more popular among second-hand shoppers compared to the previous year (previous year: 46 percent and 51 percent). Younger shoppers (18-29 year olds) prefer to buy their sweaters second hand even more than jackets and coats (80 percent).**

Sources:
* Kantar survey
** momox fashion survey
 
Method:
Kantar survey: number of cases (n=1,037), target group: 16-64 years; method: online survey in the survey period (13.-16.11.2021), conducted by Kantar Deutschland GmbH on behalf of momox AG.
 
momox fashion survey: number of cases (n=6,789), survey period (21.-26.10.2021), target group: momox fashion customers aged under 18 to over 60; method: online survey, conducted by momox AG

Download of study (in German)