Textination Newsline

Reset
24 results
(c) Continuum
24.01.2023

... and they actually can be recycled: Wind Turbine Blades

The Danish company Continuum Group ApS with its subsidiary companies in Denmark (Continuum Aps) and the UK (Continuum Composite Transformation (UK) Limited) wants to give end-of-life wind blades and composites a new purpose, preventing them going to waste. The goal is to reduce the amounts of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere by the current waste streams, delivering a value to Europe’s Net Zero efforts.

Continuum states that it ensures all wind turbine blades are 100% recyclable and plans to build industrial scale recycling factories across Europe.

Net zero is the phrase on everyone’s lips, and as 2030 rapidly approaches we constantly hear updates about wind energy generating renewable energy that powers millions of European homes – but what happens when those turbine blades reach the end of their lifespan?

The Danish company Continuum Group ApS with its subsidiary companies in Denmark (Continuum Aps) and the UK (Continuum Composite Transformation (UK) Limited) wants to give end-of-life wind blades and composites a new purpose, preventing them going to waste. The goal is to reduce the amounts of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere by the current waste streams, delivering a value to Europe’s Net Zero efforts.

Continuum states that it ensures all wind turbine blades are 100% recyclable and plans to build industrial scale recycling factories across Europe.

Net zero is the phrase on everyone’s lips, and as 2030 rapidly approaches we constantly hear updates about wind energy generating renewable energy that powers millions of European homes – but what happens when those turbine blades reach the end of their lifespan?

Currently the general answer is to put them into landfill or co-process them into cement, but neither is planet friendly. Many countries in Europe look to ban landfill from 2025, so this option is likely to be eliminated in the near future.

Continuum provides an alternative: When the end of their first life arrives, Continuum recycles them into new, high performing composite panels for the construction, and related industries. The vision of the Danes: Abandon the current landfilling, and drastically reduce CO2 emitted during currently applied incineration & co-processing in cement factories by 100 million tons by 2050, via their mechanical composite recycling technology and their industrial scale factories.  

The technology is proven, patented, and ready to go, says Reinhard Kessing, co-founder and CTO of Continuum Group ApS, who has spent more than 20 years of research and development in this field, and advanced the reclamation of raw materials from wind blades and other composite products and transformation of these materials into new, high performing panel products.

By working with partners, Continuum’s cost-effective solution covers end-to-end logistics and processes. This spans from the collection of the end-of-life blades through to the reclamation of the pure clean raw materials and then the remanufacturing of all those materials into high value, highly performing, infinitely recyclable composite panels for the construction industry or the manufacture of many day-to-day products such as facades, industrial doors, and kitchen countertops. The panels are 92% recycled blade material and are said to outperform competing products.

Nicolas Derrien: Chief Executive Officer of Continuum Group ApS said: “We need solutions for the disposal of wind turbine blades in an environmentally friendly manner, we need it now, and we need it fast, and this is where Continuum comes in! As a society we are rightly focussed on renewable energy production, however the subject of what to do with wind turbine blades in the aftermath of that production has not been effectively addressed. We’re changing that, offering a recycling solution for the blades and a construction product that will outperform most other existing construction materials and be infinitely recyclable, and with the lowest carbon footprint in its class.”

Martin Dronfield, Chief Commercial Officer of Continuum Group ApS and Managing Director of Continuum Composite Transformation (UK) Ltd, adds: “We need wind energy operators & developers across Europe to take a step back and work with us to solve the bigger picture challenge. Continuum is offering them a service which won’t just give their business complete and sustainable circularity to their operations but help protect the planet in the process.“

Each Continuum factory in Europe will have the capacity to recycle a minimum of 36,000 tons of end-of-life turbine blades per year and feed the high value infinitely recyclable product back into the circular economy by 2024/25.

Due to an investment by Climentum Capital and a grant from the UK’s ‘Offshore Wind Growth Partnership’, Continuum are planning for the first of six factories in Esbjerg to be operational by the end of 2024 and for a second factory in the United Kingdom to follow on just behind it. After that they are looking to build another four in France, Germany, Spain, and Turkey by 2030.

As part of their own pledge to promote green behaviour, Continuum have designed their factories to be powered by only 100% green energy and to be zero carbon emitting environments; meaning no emissions to air, no waste fluids to ground, and no carbon fuel combustion.

Source:

Continuum / Textination

04.01.2023

Circular Economy: It could all be so simple... or not

Interview with Henning Wehland & Robert Kapferer, Circularity Germany

Interview with Henning Wehland & Robert Kapferer, Circularity Germany

I'm a very curious guy by nature. That's why I offered to help out at a well-known hot dog station in Münster (Germany) this year, to draw attention to the shortage of staff in the gastronomy. I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn, which was in turn reacted to by Ines Chucholowius.
From her profile, I could see that she is a consultant for strategic marketing and communication in the textile industry. Not entirely serious, she offered me a job in her office. Like pushing a button, the pictures in my mind set in: Textile industry, exciting! Merchandising, contacts in the industry, collaborations, and I agreed to a short chat, at the end of which we spoke on the phone and arranged to meet.
 
She told me about her website TEXTINATION.de. And we were already involved in an exciting, heated exchange about perception and truth in the textile industry. Without further ado, we left it at that and I went home with a chunk of new information about an exciting field. Our dialogue on social media continued and eventually Ines offered me the chance to feed my die-hard curiosity with the support of TEXTINATION.de. I could write a blog on the site, about people, products, service providers, producers, startups or trends that interest me, to add to my half-knowledge about the textile industry.

Textile waste into the front ... new T-shirt out the back
During this exchange and a long brainstorming session, certain terms kept tickling my attention:
Circular economy, recycling, recyclable material loops. Circular Economy, Recycling, Recyclables. Even though there are many different definitions and some even distinguishing between different aspects: the former thought from waste that flows back into production as a secondary raw material, a more modern approach avoiding waste already in production - the general consensus is really only that circular economy is a cycle in which waste is used as a source for something new.

Sounds like useful additions for all areas of the manufacturing real economy to me. Ines introduced me to Robert Kapferer: He runs a startup called Circularity Germany in Hamburg. His company, founded in 2021 and consisting of Robert and another partner, is an offshoot of the Dutch-based company Circularity B.V. Its founder Han Hamers, with a degree in child psychology and a professional background in the textile dyeing industry, had the idea five years ago for a production facility that spins new yarn exclusively from textile production waste and old textiles turning it into T-shirts, polo shirts and sweatshirts.
Whether this works, and if so, how, is what I wanted to find out, and Ines and I arranged to meet Robert for a 90-minute online conference.

Robert, originally an industrial engineer, comes from a less sustainable industry. He worked for 11 years as managing director for AVECO Material und Service GmbH, where he was responsible for the workwear of more than 50,000 employees.

At the beginning of our conversation, he emphasizes that a moment in January 2021 changed his life and from then on, he wanted to dedicate himself to the topic of circular economy with all his might. That was when he met Han Hamers, who inspired him to found Circularity Germany. His enthusiasm and passion for the subject sound credible, and he begins to describe the differences between chemical and mechanical recycling methods. In summary, the mechanical process of shredding and the subsequent spinning shortens the fibers and thus restricts their properties for further processing. The advantage lies primarily in the comparatively uncomplicated, fast and more cost-efficient process. In the chemical variant, chemical waste remains, but the processed materials are broken down again into their basic building blocks in such a way that they have almost all the same properties as a so-called virgin raw material. Circularity Germany stands for the mechanical process.

And then comes the sentence that gets all our attention: "We've advanced a spinning technology so much that it relies exclusively on waste-based raw materials."
This sentence almost doesn't stand out because Robert still talks - quite excitingly - about the fact that they are planning a production and manufacturing facility where everything from knitting yarn to relatively fine thread can be spun and then further processed into fabric. And here Ines and I ask intensively: Essential requirements for industrial production still seem to be unresolved, and necessary processes are still in the planning stage. For example, the question of whether to work with pre-consumer or post-consumer waste. Pre-consumer waste is cutting waste from the production of clothes, which corresponds to about 10% of the processed material. Post-consumer waste we know as used textiles.

As long as production still takes place in India, Circularity currently uses mainly pre-consumer waste. These come exclusively from sewing factories in the Tirupur region in the south of India. When using used textiles, which exist in large quantities in Germany (according to a study, 28-40% of all garments produced are thrown away unworn), Circularity produces blended yarns of cotton and polyester. The company does not offer pure cotton yarns.

Textiles are treated with chemicals to varying degrees - workwear in particular cannot do without them. The fact that Han Hemers is also collecting used textile stocks from the Dutch army in order to reintroduce them renewed into the consumer cycle is therefore not reassuring. Military clothing has to be finished with all kinds of additives.

Therefor I ask how he can dispel doubts in a consumer’s mind like mine, with a healthy half-knowledge of mask deals and greenwashing, that a well-intentioned vision will be followed by a dark awakening. This concern cannot yet be resolved after the conversation.

We limit ourselves to what is planned: Robert has the dream of reversing the globalized process of textile production. He wants to end the decoupling of cotton growing regions and far-flung production such as Asia with subsequent shipping of ready-made goods to Europe. In the future, existing used textiles and/or cutting wastes are to be collected on site, recycled and processed locally into new textiles.

I believe him in having this dream. However, some of my questions about sustainability remain unanswered - which is why I have my doubts about whether the idea is currently capable of performing and competing.
What are the reasons for this? For one thing, I think it's always difficult to do necessary pioneering work. Especially when listening to smart comments at the regulars' table that large companies are already working intensively on the principle of circular economy. But sometimes, apart from the term "circular economy" and a vague commitment to it, not much remains.

Circularity Germany is committed to developing a technology based exclusively on waste. The interview points out that this also includes making production more environmentally friendly and eliminating transport routes, which further reduces the burden on the environment. When all the requirements for realizing this dream have been met and a product that is competitive in terms of both quality and price can be launched on the market, it is up to the consumer to decide. Here one would have the credible argument of sustainability and a socially and environmentally fair process. Circularity would then not have to worry about PR.

It needs to be given time and, above all, attention. But perhaps the industry should get involved right here and now, and invest in startups like this and make sure that problems are cleared out of the way. Because one thing has become clear to us in this conversation:

It could all be so simple. Circular economy is achievable, but the road there is still costly and rocky. That's why we wish Robert and his team every success and, above all, perseverance. Thank you for the interview.

Short and sweet: the profile of the company in the attached factsheet for download.

 

 

Photo: Pim Top for FranklinTill
29.11.2022

Heimtextil Trends 23/24: Textiles Matter

The Heimtextil Trend Preview 23/24 presented future-oriented design concepts and inspiration for the textile furnishing sector. With ‘Textiles Matter’, Heimtextil 2023 wants to set the benchmark for tomorrow’s forward-facing and sustainable textile furnishing. Hence, the focus is on circularity. Marta Giralt Dunjó of futures research agency FranklinTill (Great Britain) presented the design prognoses for 23/24. At the coming Heimtextil in Frankfurt am Main from 10 to 13 January 2023, the presentations of new products will generate stimulating impulses in the Trend Space.

The Heimtextil Trend Preview 23/24 presented future-oriented design concepts and inspiration for the textile furnishing sector. With ‘Textiles Matter’, Heimtextil 2023 wants to set the benchmark for tomorrow’s forward-facing and sustainable textile furnishing. Hence, the focus is on circularity. Marta Giralt Dunjó of futures research agency FranklinTill (Great Britain) presented the design prognoses for 23/24. At the coming Heimtextil in Frankfurt am Main from 10 to 13 January 2023, the presentations of new products will generate stimulating impulses in the Trend Space.

The Heimtextil Trend Council – consisting of FranklinTill Studio (London), Stijlinstituut Amsterdam and Denmark’s SPOTT Trends & Business agency – offers insights into the future of the national and international market. The focus is more than ever before on sustainability and the circular economy, the main factors in setting the trends for the season 23/24.

Textiles Matter: bear responsibility
Textiles are an integral part of modern life. The material applications and the manufacturing processes are no less multifarious than user expectations. And this represents a great challenge for the international textile industry, which obtains its raw materials from a broad spectrum of sources and uses numerous processes to make a huge variety of products. This offers a great potential for the sustainable development of the textile industry in the future. The Heimtextil Trends show ways in which this potential can be utilized and sustainable developments promoted. Under the motto ‘Textiles Matter’, visitors can explore concepts for increased circularity, which will generate new impulses for the sustainable market of the future.

"Considering the state of environmental emergency we are currently living through, the textile industry has a responsibility to examine its processes, and change for the better. That is why for this edition of the Heimtextil Trends we are taking a material’s first approach, and focusing on the sourcing, design, and sustainability of materials. Textiles Matter showcases the potential of circularity and celebrates design initiatives that are beautiful, relevant and importantly sustainable”, explains Marta Giralt Dunjó of FranklinTill.

Change via circularity
The Trend Space at the coming Heimtextil 2023 will revolve around ideas and solutions for circularity in the textile sector. How can textiles be produced in a sustainable way? What recycling options are there? What does the optimum recycling of textile products look like? Within the framework of the circular economy, materials are continuously reused. On the one hand, this reduces the need for new raw materials and, on the other hand, cuts the amount of waste generated. In the technical cycle, inorganic materials, such as nylon, polyester, plastic and metal, can be recycled with no loss of quality. In the biological cycle, organic materials, such as linen and bast fibres, are returned to nature at the end of their useful life. This is the basis of the four trend themes: ‘Make and Remake’, ‘Continuous’, ‘From Earth’ and ‘Nature Engineered’.

Make and Remake
Pre-used materials, deadstock and remnant textiles are given a new lease of life with the focus shifting to the aesthetics of repair and taking the form of a specific design element of the recycled product. Bright and joyful colours and techniques, such as overprinting, overdyeing, bricolage, collage and patchwork, result in new and creative products. Layered colour patterns and graphics lead to bold and maximalist, yet conscious, designs.

Continuous
The Continuous trend theme describes closed-loop systems in which materials are recycled into new, waste-free products again and again. Putative waste materials are separated out and reprocessed as new fibres, composites and textiles. Thus, synthetic and cellulose yarns can be produced zero-waste. Thanks to technically advanced reclamation processes, the materials retain their original quality and aesthetic. Practicality, essentialism and longevity determine the design of Continuous products.

From Earth
This theme focuses on the natural world and harmony with the nature of organic materials. Natural colours communicate warmth and softness. Imperfect textures, signs of wear and irregularities create ecological and earth-born aesthetics. Earthen and botanic shades, natural variation and tactile richness dominate the From Earth segment. Unrefined and raw surfaces, unbleached textiles and natural dyes celebrate materials in their original states.

Nature Engineered
Nature Engineered uses mechanical means to elevate and perfect organic materials, such as bast fibres, hemp, linen and nettles. Cutting-edge techniques process natural textiles into sophisticated and smart products. Combined with shades of beige and brown, clean lines and shapes are the distinguishing features of this theme.

More information:
Heimtextil Trends FranklinTill
Source:

Heimtextil, Messe Frankfurt

Photo Pixabay
16.11.2022

Green chemistry transforms facemasks into Ethernet cables

Swansea University academics have pioneered a process which converts the carbon found in discarded facemasks to create high-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT) which were then used to make Ethernet cable with broadband quality.
 
The study, which has been published in Carbon Letters, outlines how this new green chemistry could be used to upcycle materials which would otherwise be thrown away and transform them into high value materials with real-world applications. The CNTs produced by this technique have the potential not only to be used in Ethernet cables, but also in the production of lightweight batteries used in electric cars and drones.

Swansea University academics have pioneered a process which converts the carbon found in discarded facemasks to create high-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT) which were then used to make Ethernet cable with broadband quality.
 
The study, which has been published in Carbon Letters, outlines how this new green chemistry could be used to upcycle materials which would otherwise be thrown away and transform them into high value materials with real-world applications. The CNTs produced by this technique have the potential not only to be used in Ethernet cables, but also in the production of lightweight batteries used in electric cars and drones.

Professor Alvin Orbaek White, of Swansea University’s Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI):
“Single-use facemasks are a real travesty for the recycling system as they create vast amounts of plastic waste - much of it ending up in our oceans. During the study, we established that the carbon inside the facemask can be used as a pretty good feedstock to make high-quality materials like CNTs.

“CNTs are highly sought-after because they have preferential physical properties and tend to be much more costly on an industrial scale. So, through this study, we demonstrated that we could make very high value materials by processing the CNTs from what are, essentially, worthless waste facemasks.”

The team also studied the energy costs involved in using this process and concluded that the technique was green not only in levels of resource consumption but also in the product value generation as opposed to waste creation. Also, the Ethernet cable produced using the CNTs was good quality and adhered to Category 5 transmission speeds while easily exceeding the benchmarks set for broadband internet in most countries, including the UK.

Professor Orbaek White said:
“Using CNT films in batteries instead of metal films has a lower impact on the environment as the use of carbon offsets the need for mining and extraction activities. This is a crucial piece of work as it contributes to not only a circular economy but is also scalable and is viable for industrial processing and has green chemistry at its core.”

Source:

Swansea University

Photo: Pixabay
19.07.2022

The future of fashion: Revolution between fast and slow fashion

The fashion industry is massively influenced by the change in social values. Which trends can be observed and in which direction is the fashion future developing - an excerpt from the Retail Report 20231 by Theresa Schleicher.

The fashion industry is massively influenced by the change in social values. Which trends can be observed and in which direction is the fashion future developing - an excerpt from the Retail Report 20231 by Theresa Schleicher.

The fashion industry has been slowed down by the global health pandemic and further affected by the measures taken in the wake of the Ukraine war: Fragile supply chains, increased transportation and energy costs, and rising prices are having an impact on the globalized fashion industry. Those who were moving the fastest are being hit the hardest. Fast fashion based on the principle of "faster and faster, cheaper and cheaper, more and more" - which has been in the fast lane for years - is now experiencing an unprecedented crash. Even without these momentous events, the fashion system would have reached its limits. What could have developed evolutionarily is now being revolutionized. Now and in the future, it will be particularly difficult for brands and retail companies that do not have a sharp profile or that have lost many customers in the attempt to offer mass-produced goods at prices that are still lower than those of their competitors.

New value paradigm in society - also for fashion
While fashion retailers and fashion brands are focusing on expanding online and have been putting their foot on the gas pedal since the corona pandemic at the latest, a parallel change in values is taking place in society. Many behaviors that have been practiced, tested and lived for months will continue to shape our consumer behavior and lifestyles in the future. The uncertainty in society as well as a shrinking economy and rising consumer prices as a result of the Ukraine war will further contribute to this shift in values.

The old paradigm was "primarily shaped by pragmatic factors such as price, quantity, safety and convenience, so consumer behavior was predominantly based on relatively simple cost-benefit calculations." The new value paradigm, on the other hand, is more strongly influenced by "soft factors". For example, the quality of a product is defined more holistically. In addition to price, "ecological, [...] ethical and social aspects are also taken into account. It is about positive or negative experiences that one has had with producers and about the visions that they pursue with their companies". This new value paradigm is forcing the large chain stores in particular to rethink. They have to develop their business models further in the direction of sustainability, transparency and responsibility - and show attitude. The influence of the neo-ecology megatrend combined with the push towards the sense economy is reshuffling the cards in the fashion industry.

The most important driver for the change in consumer behavior is climate protection, which is also becoming personally more important to more and more people because they are feeling the effects of climate change themselves in their everyday lives. The transition to a sustainable, bio-based and circular economy is accompanied by fundamental changes in the technical, economic and social environment.

Circular fashion as an opportunity for fast fashion
The development of the fashion industry - especially the fast fashion industry - towards a more circular economy is not a short-term trend, but one of the most long-term and at the same time forward-looking trends in retailing of all.

Even before the pandemic, a growing proportion of consumers placed value on sustainably produced clothing instead of constantly shopping the latest trends. A reset is needed, but the fashion industry faces a difficult question: How can it respond to the demand for new trends without neglecting its responsibility for the environment?

The solution for reducing emissions and conserving raw materials and resources seems obvious: produce less. On average, 2,700 liters of water are needed to produce a T-shirt - that much drinking water would last a person for two and a half years. In Europe, each person buys an average of 26 kilograms of textiles per year - and disposes eleven kilograms. Of this, almost 90 percent is incinerated or ends up in landfills. Overproduction, precarious working conditions during production and the use of non-sustainable materials are the major problems of the fast fashion industry. It is time to slow down fast fashion.

Fashion recycling by Design & Recycling as a Service
A first step towards keeping fashion and textiles in the cycle for longer is to recycle materials properly. In the future, recycling must be considered as early as the design stage - not only for sustainably produced fashion, but also for fast fashion. The H&M Group, for example, developed the Circulator for this purpose: The digital evaluation tool guides the designer through materials, components and design strategies that are best suited for the product depending on its purpose, and evaluates them in terms of their environmental impact, durability and recyclability.

However, more and more young companies are specializing in offering recycling for textiles as a service. They work directly with fashion retailers or fashion brands to enable the best possible recycling, re-circulation or even upcycling. Until now, it has not been worthwhile for large textile companies to invest in their own recycling systems. But Recycling as a Service is a market of the future, led by innovative start-ups such as Resortecs that are tackling previous hurdles in our recycling system. In the future, more and more new service providers will pop up around returns and recycling and help fashion retailers to align their material cycles more sustainably.

Secondhand conquers the fast fashion market
Another way to extend the life of clothing is to pass it on to new users. We are witnessing the triumph of vintage, retro and more - chic secondhand stores and chains like Resales and Humana are popping up everywhere. The renaming of secondhand to pre-owned or pre-loved also illustrates the increased appreciation of worn clothing. The trend toward secondhand also pays off economically for companies: The number of platforms whose business model revolves around the resale of clothing is increasing, and secondhand fashion is arriving in the middle of society. The luxury segment and especially vintage fashion are stable in price because the availability of these unique pieces is limited. Fast fashion, on the other hand, is available in sufficient quantities and is particularly interesting for price-sensitive customers, as secondhand is considered one of the most sustainable forms of consumption - meaning that fashion can be shopped with a clear conscience - and is usually even offered at a lower price than new goods. The second-hand market will continue to professionalize and become more socially acceptable. As a result, the fast fashion industry will also be forced to produce higher quality clothing in order to become or remain part of the circular system.

Slow fashion gains momentum thanks to technology
The development and orientation of fast fashion towards circular processes is also changing sustainable fashion. In the future, fast fashion and slow fashion can learn from each other to fully exploit their potential: fast fashion will become more sustainable, while slow fashion will focus on faster availability and delivery and make the customer experience as pleasant as possible. Fast and slow fashion are no longer compelling opposites - because the sustainable fashion movement can also benefit from technological innovations that are being established above all by the fashion platforms, and lift slow fashion to a new level.

At the same time, Sustainable Luxury is a new form of luxury consumption - especially in the field of designer fashion, sustainability is becoming the all-important criterion. Sustainability as a means of distinction for true luxury and sustainability as a basic prerequisite for a functioning fashion industry are increasingly converging. This is where the transition between a slowdown of fast fashion and an acceleration of slow fashion takes place.

Trend Sustainable Luxury
Luxury is defined less and less by the object and its possession and is increasingly becoming an expression of one's own lifestyle and values. Consumers' understanding of premium and luxury has changed - not least driven by the neo-ecology megatrend. In the future, it will no longer be just about owning something as expensive and ostentatious as possible. What began as a rebellion against careless consumption of luxury brands that promise high-end products but accept unfair and environmentally damaging manufacturing conditions in the process has increasingly become accepted as a value attitude. Luxury products have no less a claim than to improve the world.

Sustainable and ethical products and services made from innovative materials that have the power to solve problems and make the world a better place. At the same time, this highly ethically and morally charged form of sustainability is turning into a means of distinction: For the materials are so new, the manufacturing processes still so experimental, that the products are unique and often only available in very small quantities or on order. And this exclusive sustainability naturally comes at a price. After all, a company that pursues a mission is not concerned with simply cutting costs - certainly not at the expense of others or the environment. Instead of leather and fur, luxury fashion is now made from oranges, pineapples, hemp, cacti: there are more and more new, innovative and sustainable materials from which unique garments and accessories can be made.

Predictive, Pre-Order & Made-to-Order
Artificial intelligence and Big Data analysis can help predict fashion demand. Fast fashion leaders like Shein are characterized by agile production which is supported by AI algorithms for trend prediction fed with data from TikTok and other social media services. This could sustainably reduce overproduction and unsaleable goods in the future. As critical as Shein's practices are, the automation of processes also offers immense opportunities for a more sustainable fashion industry, as production only starts when goods are in demand.

AI support in the design process can be used to produce more sustainable fashion - and make it available more quickly. In a future of an avatar economy and in the world of virtual influencers, it may even be possible to dispense with part of the production process: Fashion will remain virtual - and thus more resource-efficient. Digital fashion will become increasingly important as the metaverse is built.

5 Key Takeaways on the Future of Fashion

  1. The current crisis in the fashion industry is an opportunity to move more in the direction of circular fashion. Above all, the new value paradigm in society, understanding quality more holistically and consuming more mindfully, is providing a push towards fairer, more ecological and more social fashion. Fast fashion and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.
  2. There are already first approaches to keep fast fashion in the cycle longer or to return it to the cycle. One important development is to consider recycling or reuse as early as the design and manufacturing process - known as recycling by design. In addition, there is a growing number of start-ups specializing in the optimized recycling of textiles and cooperating with major fashion players.
  3. Above all, the booming online trade in used fashion, often communicated as the pre-loved or pre-owned category, is making secondhand respectable for the mainstream. Such fashion, with a story and an aura of uniqueness, is also a cost-effective but more sustainable alternative to fast fashion.
  4. But slow fashion is also changing, especially due to the dominance of new technologies. Slow fashion can also benefit from processes that are currently manifesting themselves in the online fashion market, such as fast delivery or pre-order services. Slow fashion thus becomes more convenient, better and faster available. It will be easier for sustainably oriented fashion enthusiasts to consume according to their values and attitudes.
  5. The trend toward sustainable luxury continues: Sustainability as a means of distinction for a new form of luxury enables alternative manufacturing processes and innovative materials in the luxury fashion market. These are being showcased by an avant-garde and, if they prove successful, adapted by fast fashion.

1https://onlineshop.zukunftsinstitut.de/shop/retail-report-2023/

Source:

Retail Report 2023 | Theresa Schleicher, Janine Seitz | June 2022

(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: 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

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) Schoeller Textil AG
18.01.2022

A jacket from a jacket from a jacket ...

Manufacture, wear, wash, incinerate: This typical life cycle of garments, which pollutes the environment, is to be changed in the future – towards principles of circular economy with recycling at its core. Using an outdoor jacket made from PET bottles and recycled materials, Empa researchers have investigated whether the product actually delivers what the idea promises.

At first glance, it's a normal rain jacket: three layers of polyester, a lining on the inside, a water vapor-permeable membrane on top and water-repellent fabric on the outside, with a hood. But the zipper makes you wonder. Instead of ending at collar height, it pulls up over the forehead ... – who would pull it that far?

Manufacture, wear, wash, incinerate: This typical life cycle of garments, which pollutes the environment, is to be changed in the future – towards principles of circular economy with recycling at its core. Using an outdoor jacket made from PET bottles and recycled materials, Empa researchers have investigated whether the product actually delivers what the idea promises.

At first glance, it's a normal rain jacket: three layers of polyester, a lining on the inside, a water vapor-permeable membrane on top and water-repellent fabric on the outside, with a hood. But the zipper makes you wonder. Instead of ending at collar height, it pulls up over the forehead ... – who would pull it that far?

The explanation is given by Annette Mark from textile manufacturer BTK Europe, who contributed to this product. The zipper is intended to be an eye-catcher – and is primarily for recycling: Sewn tight with a thread that dissolves in boiling water, it is easier to remove than two fasteners. "Pull once and you're done," says the expert on textiles and recycling. The light green color is also due to recycling: The raw material, a granule made from a mixture of different but single-variety textiles, is dark green – and melting and spinning out the material for new yarns lightens it.

Circular economy within textile industry
Magnetic buttons, seams, hems: Every detail of the jacket follows the Design2Recycle approach, as it says on the Wear2wear website. Six companies from Europe's textile industry have joined forces in this consortium to promote circular economy. After all, more than 70 percent of all textiles produced worldwide end up in landfills or incinerators without being recycled.

How can circular economy be acheived in this industry? A team from Empa's Technology and Society lab took a closer look at the jacket and its environmental impact using life cycle analyses over a four-year period of use; including washing it three times. The candidates: a jacket produced without circular economy methods, the "starter version" of the jacket available since 2019 in blue – with an outer layer made of polyester derived from used PET bottles – and the green version from the subsequent recycling process, in which unavoidable material losses are replaced by new polyester.

The researchers' analyses show that the recycled products perform better – in eleven environmental risk categories, including global warming, toxicity to ecosystems and water scarcity. There are strikingly large advantages in air pollution, for example, because fewer pollutants are released without incineration, as well as in water scarcity, especially for the green jacket after the first recycling "loop," for which PET bottles are no longer used.

Other insights from the analyses: In terms of greenhouse effect, the maximum benefit is a good 30 percent. And the use of PET bottles does not bring any major ecological benefits. What is decisive, on the other hand, is the number of recycling cycles to produce new jackets: The balance improves from jacket to jacket – provided the quality of the polyester remains high enough.

In practice, this is challenging, as Mark explains: "Depending on the origin, the raw material sometimes differs significantly." If the fibers have been coated with certain additives, the nozzles of the spinning machines can become clogged. And in general, the quality decreases with the number of recycling cycles: more irregular structures of the yarn and lower strength.

Annette Mark's conclusion on the Empa analyses: "very realistic" and useful for improvements. "The cooperation was very good," she says, "full transparency and no compromises." The researchers also found the collaboration fruitful. "Open collaboration between science and industry is enormously important," says former team member Gregor Braun, who has since left Empa and now works as a consultant for sustainability. "Sustainability and circular economy can work well together."

Will the jacket become a market success? "The textile industry is in a state of upheaval. A rethinking is taking place right now that we shouldn't miss," says Annette Mark. But large corporations that are already developing similar products "have completely different options." After all, talks are underway with a sportswear manufacturer – for a fleece jacket, for which the Empa findings could also be useful.

Microplastic fibers from textiles
Textiles made of polyester are making the headlines because of the release microplastic fibers – for instance, during washing – which is sometimes considered a threat to humans and the environment. Empa experts have studied the formation and release of microplastic fibers. Their results: Fibers are released primarily at the fabric's edges. Their formation and release depends, among other things, on the type of fiber, surface treatment and the type of cutting. Compared to other textiles, significantly fewer fibers are released from laser-cut textiles during washing. Empa is conducting studies with industrial partners to further reduce the formation of these fibers during textile production. In Swiss wastewater treatment plants, however, microfibers are largely removed from wastewater and incinerated with the sludge.

More information:
Empa PET Recycling polyester
Source:

EMPA, Norbert Raabe

photo: pixabay
04.01.2022

EU Project: System Circularity & Innovative Recycling of Textiles

SCIRT stands for System Circularity & Innovative Recycling of Textiles. Coordinated by VITO, an independent Flemish research organisation in the cleantech and sustainable development sector, SCIRT is a three year EU-funded project from the Horizon 2020 Programme.

It aims to demonstrate a complete textile-to-textile recycling system for discarded clothing—or post-consumer textiles—involving stakeholders throughout the value chain and focusing on the recycling of natural fibres, synthetic fibres and fibre blends. To reach this goal, the project has set four main objectives.

SCIRT stands for System Circularity & Innovative Recycling of Textiles. Coordinated by VITO, an independent Flemish research organisation in the cleantech and sustainable development sector, SCIRT is a three year EU-funded project from the Horizon 2020 Programme.

It aims to demonstrate a complete textile-to-textile recycling system for discarded clothing—or post-consumer textiles—involving stakeholders throughout the value chain and focusing on the recycling of natural fibres, synthetic fibres and fibre blends. To reach this goal, the project has set four main objectives.

  • Deliver a closed-loop recycling solution for discarded textiles.
  • Stimulate and encourage conscious design as well as production practices.
  • Create new business opportunities by boosting textile value chain activity.
  • Raise awareness of the environmental and social impacts of buying clothes.

Gathering 18 partners from five countries, the SCIRT project held its virtual kick-off meeting in mid-2021 to begin tackling the issue of clothing waste and recyclability, one of the biggest challenges faced in the fashion industry today.

As clothing brands are setting ambitious targets and making promises to incorporate recycled fibres in their products, discarded textiles are piling up in abundance around the globe. Though it would seem that the stars of supply and demand have aligned for this part of the circular economy, the truth is that less than 1% of textile waste is recycled into new textile fibres, according to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation report published in 2017. This miniscule percentage is indicative of a greater problem-achieving circularity in the fashion industry is not just a question of supply and demand, but of the connection between the two. There is a lack of knowledge surrounding the technological, economic and environmental feasibility of recycling fibre mixtures, and a need to align the quality and cost of recycling processes with the demands of textile companies and fashion brands.

SCIRT will develop solutions to support systemic innovation towards a more circular fashion system and bridge this supply-demand gap. To address the demand side of the equation, SCIRT will demonstrate a complete textile-to-textile recycling system for discarded clothing, otherwise known as post-consumer textiles, involving stakeholders throughout the value chain and focusing on the recycling of natural and synthetic fibres, as well as fibre blends. With the support of technical partners and research institutes, clothing brands Decathlon, Petit Bateau, Bel & Bo, HNST and Xandres, will develop, prototype and produce six different representative types of apparel using post-consumer recycled fibres. These include formal and casual wear, sportswear, underwear and uniforms. Through this endeavour, SCIRT will prioritise quality and cost-effectiveness in order to ensure market confidence and encourage the broad uptake of post-consumer recycled fibres.

From a non-technological perspective, SCIRT will develop supporting policy measures and tools to facilitate the transition towards a circular system for apparel. This includes a framework for an eco-modulated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system and a True Cost Model to quantify circularity and increase value chain transparency. Special attention will also be given to the consumer perspective. To this end, Citizen Labs engaging consumers in various European locations, as well as a wider online engagement platform, will be developed to engage citizens throughout the project in order to understand the perceptions, motivations and emotions shaping their behaviour regarding the purchase, use, and disposal of textiles.

Over the next three years, SCIRT project partners will work to overcome current technological, economic, socio-economic and regulatory barriers faced in textiles recycling to achieve a real, lasting circular fashion economy.

2021:
The SCIRT project kicks off and partners identify the current state-of-the-art in apparel design, production and recycling, challenges and market trends, and stakeholder needs.

2022:
Designing and testing a fibre-to-fibre system by producing recycled yarns and filaments, free from harmful substances.

2023:
Formal wear, casual wear, sportswear, underwear and uniforms will be designed and produced using the optimized yarns developed.

Partners

  • Fashion companies: Bel&Bo, HNST, Decathlon, Xandres, Petit Bateau
  • Research organisations: VITO, CETI, Prospex Institute
  • Universities: BOKU, TU Wien, ESTIA
  • Industry players: Altex, AVS Spinning - A European Spinning Group (ESG) Company, Valvan
  • SMEs: Circular.fashion, FFact
  • Non-profit organisations: Flanders DC, IID-SII

 

ALTEX
ALTEX is a textile recycling company based in Germany that employs state-of-the-art machinery to recycle textile waste into new high-quality products. Its products include teared fibres, natural fibres, synthetic fibres and fibre blends among others.

Bel & Bo
Bel&Bo is a family-owned Belgian business with about 95 retail stores located throughout Belgium. Its mission is to offer colourful, fashionable and sustainably produced clothing for men, women and children at an affordable price.

CETI
The European Center for Innovative Textiles (CETI) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to conceiving, experimenting with and prototyping innovative textile materials and products through both private and collaborative R&D projects.

circular.fashion
circular.fashion offers software for circular design, intelligent textile sorting and closed-loop recycling, including the Circular Design Software and the circularity.ID®, as well as training and hands-on support to fashion brands in their transitions.

Decathlon
With over 315 stores in France, and 1,511 around the world, Decathlon has been innovating since 1976 to become the main player for athletic people. It has been engaged in reducing its environmental impact through a number of actions.

ESG
The European Spinning Group (ESG) is a textile group based in Belgium that offers a range of yarns produced with a highly technological open-end spinning mill for different applications, such as for interiors, fashion and technical textiles.

ESTIA
ESTIA is a French institute that has provided education and training in the areas of industrial technologies for 20 years. Since 2017, ESTIA has had a program focused on new materials and disruptive process in the fashion and textile industry.

FFACT
FFact is a unique group of management consultants that facilitates the implementation of sustainability from a business perspective, and translates facts into useful management information. FFact is based in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Flanders DC
The Flanders District of Creativity, a non-profit organisation based in Belgium, informs, coaches, promotes and inspires creative entrepreneurs in various sectors, including the fashion industry, who want to build or grow their business.

HNST
HNST is a Belgian circular denim brand that recovers post-consumer denim and recycles it into new fabric in the EU, creating durable and 100% recyclable jeans that use 82% less water and emit 76% less carbon dioxide than conventional jeans.

Petit Bateau
Petit Bateau is a French apparel brand that specialises in knit products. As a vertical company, Petit Bateau carries out its own knitting, dyeing, making up and store management with the support of its 3,000 employees.

Prospex Institute
The Prospex Institute aims to promote the participation of citizens and stakeholders in socially relevant decision-making dialogue and development by engaging with theorists and practitioners both in Belgium and abroad.

IID-SII
The Sustainable Innovation Institute is a French non-profit association based in Paris. Initiated by LGI, a French SME, the purpose of IID-SII is to act as a think and do tank on sustainable innovation to support the adoption of novel solutions.

TU Wien
TU Wien is an open academic institution where research, teaching and learning have taken place under the motto “Technology for people” for the past 200 years. One of its key areas of research is on recycling technology and fibre innovation.

BOKU
Research at the Institute for Environmental Biotechnology of BOKU based in Vienna, Austria focus on the exploitation of enzymes as powerful biocatalysts for biomaterials processing within recycling applications.

Valvan
Valvan Baling Systems has 30 years of experience in designing and constructing custom-made machinery, specialising in Baling Machines and Sorting Facilities for fibre producers, collectors, sorters and recyclers of textiles.

VITO
VITO, a leading independent European research and technology organisation in the cleantech and sustainable development sectors, aims to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society by developing sustainable technologies.

Xandres
Xandres is a brand inspired by and for women. It is rooted in a highly respected tradition of fashion, driven by quality and created for the life women lead today. Xandres offers innovative designs with respect for luxury and the environment.

(c) Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jens Liebchen
31.08.2021

Textile Services Industry a key to providing sustainable solutions and eco-friendly best practice

How can the major sustainability challenges in the textile industry be met? The textile services industry, whose business model has always been based on durability and re-use, has an important role to play here as ambassador. In the run-up to Texcare International, Elena Lai, Secretary General European Textile Services Association (ETSA), talks about these challenges and her expectations for Texcare International from 27 November to 1 December 2021.

How can the major sustainability challenges in the textile industry be met? The textile services industry, whose business model has always been based on durability and re-use, has an important role to play here as ambassador. In the run-up to Texcare International, Elena Lai, Secretary General European Textile Services Association (ETSA), talks about these challenges and her expectations for Texcare International from 27 November to 1 December 2021.

The textile sector was identified as a priority sector in the European Green Deal and in the Circular Economy Action Plan. What are the implications for the European textile services industry?
Elena Lai:
We are in a truly historic and exciting time for the textile services industry. We are all well-aware that our industry is the key to providing sustainable solutions and ecofriendly best practice. We had a series of webinars at ETSA dedicated to sustainability and circular economy being key elements of the Green Deal and our larger companies such as industrial laundries, key textile manufacturers and innovative machinery companies, are all up to the task and providing effective solutions. Our national associations too, members of ETSA, are all working synergistically to exchange their best ways forward, in Europe and beyond as we have also partners from the US. These efforts within ETSA’s value chain make us really proud and eager to go the extra mile, guiding our members also towards those areas which seem to be the most challenging. For instance, the new EU Climate Law, which calls for 55% CO2 reductions by 2030: this means that European industries will all have to do better to make us reach these targets in less than nine years. We know ETSA could represent the right network to identify the best way forward on this issue and truly perform and deliver what the EU is advocating for.

How can the textile services industry contribute to achieving circular economy in the textile industry?
Elena Lai:
The business model of textile services is inherently circular. By having a business model which is focused on renting and reusing textiles we can see a litany of benefits that it can offer to the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan. Firstly, in renting textiles. Through rented textile services, textile service companies can extend the lifecycle of products and thus reduce the amount of production that is necessary to occur in the first place, while also reducing the amount of wastewater and energy needed in the laundry process. Secondly, through re-use and repair textile products can remain in consumer hands for longer, which is paramount as our industry is one that battles against planned obsolescence. Both of these are important pillars to our industries that will help both consumers and the planet. Lastly, by continuing to expand recycling and upcycling we can minimise waste, ensuring that a product stays inside the European economy as long as possible. These are all important steps and help us do our part to help Europe reach its emissions and sustainability goals.

Textile recycling is a very important point. How do you think the textile recycling rate can be increased?
Elena Lai:
The Commission will mandate separate waste sorting of textiles by the year 2025, thus recycling, upcycling and end of life re-use must be improved. A ban on the burning of unused textiles will also soon take effect, this will incentivise further recycling and waste reduction. Fundamentally what we in textiles services need to do is to continue to reduce, re-use and recycle. We can increase the rate of recycling by making consumers aware of rented textiles and textile services so to increase the public demand for such services.

How can sustainability in textile services be further improved?
Elena Lai:
In order to boost sustainability in our industry we need to build on the existing culture of innovation and entrepreneurship where exciting, new, out-of-the-box ideas can be developed and refined. EU programs like Horizon Europe, which emphasise green and digital solutions to common problems are an excellent way to empower citizens, textile service firms and local communities to take the initiative and take matters into their own hands. The EU’s Due Diligence legislation is one example of somewhere we can see both consumers and firms come together and take proactive action to improve sustainability, not only in textiles and textile services, but in European industry more broadly. To put it clearly, we have to strengthen our technological innovation while also empowering consumers, authorities and textile service firms, we believe our work at the EU level helps to make this a reality.

How does ETSA promote new projects in the field of sustainability?
Elena Lai:
We at ETSA have been hard at work lobbying EU policymakers for responsible legislation, while also spreading awareness of the industry’s best practice to the public. Recently ETSA has also become an EU Commission Climate Pact Ambassador. This is an exciting opportunity which will allow ETSA to work closely with European Institutions to inform and inspire real climate action amongst our members, national associations and the industry as a whole. ETSA is a platform where stakeholders, citizens, industries and European Union representatives can come together and have a dialogue on the best ways to improve Europe’s sustainability. Furthermore, we have been hard at work disseminating information on the best practice that will help Europe get to 55% emissions reductions, as well information on chemicals, waste-water, microplastics and other salient environmental issues. Our work is far from being done but we look forward to continuing to strive and advance via our focused Working Group on Environment and our webinars to make the world green and sustainable again.

What role will circular economy/sustainability play at Texcare?
Elena Lai:
A central role, several European and World Leaders have underlined, is that Climate Change is the most important issue of our time and it is imperative we act now. Climate Change is also an issue with a global spill over and therefore we all have a clear incentive to find solutions and work in synergy with each other. We need future-oriented dialogue which understands the urgent need for sustainability across the entire textile value chain. ETSA in synergy with one of our members, DTV, is working hard to put together a panel at Texcare dedicated to the sustainability debate, with lots of members and participants to get engaged.

What does ETSA expect from this year's Texcare?
Elena Lai:
We at ETSA are excited to be at Texcare, we think it’s a great opportunity to not only network and converse with other relevant actors in the industry but also to share best practice, concerns and most of all opportunities. Due to the pandemic we had a difficult year 2021 and this event will really enhance a stronger engagement of key actors in this sector. The need for green, sustainable and digital solutions is nonetheless imperative. We are looking forward to hearing of ways that the industry across the world not only continues to adapt to the evolving COVID situation, but also how it is embracing the green and digital transition that has been emphasised as being the futuristic approach by our EU policymakers. We at ETSA wholeheartedly look forward to this event.

Texcare International will take place from November 27 December 1, 2021 in Frankfurt am Main.

Photo: pixabay
10.08.2021

Stand-up paddle board made from renewable lightweight mater

Stand-up paddling has become a popular sport. However, conventional surfboards are made of petroleum-based materials such as epoxy resin and polyurethane.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI, want to replace plastic boards with sustainable sports equipment: They are developing a stand-up paddle board that is made from one hundred percent renewable raw materials. The ecological lightweight material can be used in many ways, such as in the construction of buildings, cars and ships.

Stand-up paddling has become a popular sport. However, conventional surfboards are made of petroleum-based materials such as epoxy resin and polyurethane.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI, want to replace plastic boards with sustainable sports equipment: They are developing a stand-up paddle board that is made from one hundred percent renewable raw materials. The ecological lightweight material can be used in many ways, such as in the construction of buildings, cars and ships.

Stand-up paddling (SUP) is a sport that is close to nature, but the plastic boards are anything but environmentally friendly. As a rule, petroleum-based materials such as epoxy resin, polyester resin, polyurethane and expanded or extruded polystyrene are used in combination with fiberglass and carbon fiber fabrics to produce the sports equipment. In many parts of the world, these plastics are not recycled, let alone disposed of correctly. Large quantities of plastic end up in the sea and collect in huge ocean eddies. For Christoph Pöhler, a scientist at Fraunhofer WKI and an avid stand-up paddler, this prompted him to think about a sustainable alternative. In the ecoSUP project, he is driving the development of a stand-up paddle board that is made from 100 percent renewable raw materials and which is also particularly strong and durable. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW is accompanying the research work, with TU Braunschweig acting as project partner.

Recovering balsa wood from rotor blades
“In standard boards, a polystyrene core, which we know as styrofoam, is reinforced with fiberglass and sealed with an epoxy resin. We, instead, use bio-based lightweight material,” says the civil engineer. Pöhler and his colleagues use recycled balsa wood for the core. This has a very low density, i.e. it is light yet mechanically stressable. Balsa wood grows mainly in Papua New Guinea and Ecuador, where it has been used in large quantities in wind turbines for many years – up to six cubic meters of the material can be found in a rotor blade. Many of the systems are currently being disconnected from the grid. In 2020 alone, 6000 were dismantled. A large proportion of this is burnt. It would make more sense to recover the material from the rotor blade and recycle it in accordance with the circular economy. “This was exactly our thinking. The valuable wood is too good to burn,” says Pöhler.

Since the entire sandwich material used in conventional boards is to be completely replaced, the shell of the ecological board is also made from one hundred percent bio-based polymer. It is reinforced with flax fibers grown in Europe, which are characterized by very good mechanical properties. To pull the shell over the balsa wood core, Pöhler and his team use the hand lay-up and vacuum infusion processes. Feasibility studies are still underway to determine the optimal method. The first demonstrator of the ecological board should be available by the end of 2022. “In the interests of environmental protection and resource conservation, we want to use natural fibers and bio-based polymers wherever it is technically possible. In many places, GFRP is used even though a bio-based counterpart could do the same,” Pöhler sums up.

Patented technology for the production of wood foam
But how is it possible to recover the balsa wood from the rotor blade — after all, it is firmly bonded to the glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) of the outer shell? First, the wood is separated from the composite material in an impact mill. The density differences can be used to split the mixed-material structures into their individual components using a wind sifter. The balsa wood fibers, which are available as chips and fragments, are then finely ground. “We need this very fine starting material to produce wood foam. Fraunhofer WKI has a patented technology for this,” explains the researcher. In this process, the wood particles are suspended to form a kind of cake batter and processed into a light yet firm wood foam that holds together thanks to the wood’s own binding forces. The addition of adhesive is not required. The density and strength of the foam can be adjusted. “This is important because the density should not be too high. Otherwise, the stand-up paddle board would be too heavy to transport.”

Initially, the researchers are focusing on stand-up paddle boards. However, the hybrid material is also suitable for all other boards, such as skateboards. The future range of applications is broad: For example, it could be used as a facade element in the thermal insulation of buildings. The technology can also be used in the construction of vehicles, ships and trains.

Photo: pixabay
20.07.2021

Closed-Loop Recycling Pilot Project for Single Use Face Masks

  • Circular economy for plastics: Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble join forces

The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have developed an advanced recycling process for used plastics. The pilot project with SABIC and Procter & Gamble serves to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling for single-use facemasks.

The transformation from a linear to a circular plastics economy can only succeed with a multi-stakeholder approach. The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE combines the competencies of six institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and cooperates closely with partners from industry. Together, we work on systemic, technical and social innovations and keep an eye on the entire life cycle of plastic products.  

  • Circular economy for plastics: Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble join forces

The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have developed an advanced recycling process for used plastics. The pilot project with SABIC and Procter & Gamble serves to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling for single-use facemasks.

The transformation from a linear to a circular plastics economy can only succeed with a multi-stakeholder approach. The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE combines the competencies of six institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and cooperates closely with partners from industry. Together, we work on systemic, technical and social innovations and keep an eye on the entire life cycle of plastic products.  

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT is a pioneer in sustainable energy and raw materials management by supplying and transferring scientific results into companies, society and politics. Together with partners, the dedicated UMSICHT team researches and develops sustainable products, processes and services which inspire.

Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, SABIC and Procter & Gamble (P&G) are collaborating in an innovative circular economy pilot project which aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling of single-use facemasks.

Due to COVID-19, use of billions of disposable facemasks is raising environmental concerns especially when they are thoughtlessly discarded in public spaces, including - parks, open-air venues and beaches. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material.

“Recognizing the challenge, we set out to explore how used facemasks could potentially be returned into the value chain of new facemask production,” says Dr. Peter Dziezok, Director R&D Open Innovation at P&G. “But creating a true circular solution from both a sustainable and an economically feasible perspective takes partners. Therefore, we teamed up with Fraunhofer CCPE and Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s expert scientists and SABIC’s T&I specialists to investigate potential solutions.”

As part of the pilot, P&G collected used facemasks worn by employees or given to visitors at its manufacturing and research sites in Germany. Although those masks are always disposed of responsibly, there was no ideal route in place to recycle them efficiently. To help demonstrate a potential step change in this scenario, special collection bins were set up, and the collected used masks were sent to Fraunhofer for further processing in a dedicated research pyrolysis plant.

“A single-use medical product such as a face mask has high hygiene requirements, both in terms of disposal and production. Mechanical recycling, would have not done the job” explains Dr. Alexander Hofmann, Head of Department Recycling Management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. “In our solution, therefore, the masks were first automatically shredded and then thermochemically converted to pyrolysis oil.

Pyrolysis breaks the plastic down into molecular fragments under pressure and heat, which will also destroy any residual pollutants or pathogens, such as the Coronavirus. In this way it is possible to produce feedstock for new plastics in virgin quality that can also meet the requirements for medical products” adds Hofmann, who is also Head of Research Department “Advanced Recycling” at Fraunhofer CCPE.

The pyrolysis oil was then sent to SABIC to be used as feedstock for the production of new PP resin. The resins were produced using the widely recognized principle of mass balance to combine the alternative feedstock with fossil-based feedstock in the production process. Mass balance is considered a crucial bridge between today’s linear economy and the more sustainable circular economy of the future.

“The high-quality circular PP polymer obtained in this pilot clearly demonstrates that closed-loop recycling is achievable through active collaboration of players from across the value chain,” emphasizes Mark Vester, Global Circular Economy Leader at SABIC. “The circular material is part of our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, aimed at preventing valuable used plastic from becoming waste and at mitigating the depletion of fossil resources.”

Finally, to close the loop, the PP polymer was supplied to P&G, where it was processed into non-woven fibers material. “This pilot project has helped us to assess if the close loop approach could work for hygienic and medical grade plastics.” says Hansjörg Reick, P&G Senior Director Open Innovation. “Of course, further work is needed but the results so far have been very encouraging”.

The entire closed loop pilot project from facemask collection to production was developed and implemented within only seven months. The transferability of advanced recycling to other feedstocks and chemical products is being further researched at Fraunhofer CCPE.

Photo: pixabay
06.07.2021

»Waste4Future«: Today's Waste becomes Tomorrow's Resource

Fraunhofer Institutes pave new ways in plastics recycling

A sustainable society, the renunciation of fossil raw materials, climate-neutral processes - also the chemical industry has committed itself to these goals. For the industry, this means a huge challenge within the next years and decades. This structural change can succeed if all activities - from the raw material base to material flows and process technology to the end of a product's life cycle - are geared towards the goal of sustainable value creation. The key to this is innovation.

Fraunhofer Institutes pave new ways in plastics recycling

A sustainable society, the renunciation of fossil raw materials, climate-neutral processes - also the chemical industry has committed itself to these goals. For the industry, this means a huge challenge within the next years and decades. This structural change can succeed if all activities - from the raw material base to material flows and process technology to the end of a product's life cycle - are geared towards the goal of sustainable value creation. The key to this is innovation.

Plastics such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) or polystyrene (PS), which are currently produced almost entirely from fossil raw materials, are fundamental to many everyday products and modern technologies. The carbon contained in plastics is an important resource for the chemical industry. If it is possible to better identify such carbon-containing components in waste, to recycle them more effectively, and to use them again to produce high-quality raw materials for industry, the carbon can be kept in the cycle. This not only reduces the need for fossil resources, but also pollution with CO2 emissions and plastic waste. At the same time, the security of supply for industry is improved because an additional source of carbon is tapped.

The "Waste4Future" lighthouse project therefore aims to create new opportunities for recycling plastics in order to make the carbon they contain available as a "green" resource for the chemical industry. "We are thus paving the way for a carbon circular economy in which valuable new base molecules are obtained from plastic waste and emissions are largely avoided: Today's waste becomes tomorrow's resource," says Dr.-Ing. Sylvia Schattauer, deputy director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, which is heading the project. "With the know-how of the participating institutes, we want to show how the comprehensive recycling of waste containing plastics without loss of carbon is possible and ultimately economical through interlocking, networked processes." The outcome of the project, which will run until the end of 2023, is expected to be innovative recycling technologies for complex waste that can be used to obtain high-quality recyclates.

Specifically, the development of a holistic, entropy-based assessment model is planned (entropy = measure of the disorder of a system), which will reorganize the recycling chain from process-guided to material-guided. A new type of sorting identifies which materials and in particular which plastic fractions are contained in the waste. Based on this analysis, the total stream is separated and a targeted decision is then made for the resulting sub-streams as to which recycling route is the most technically, ecologically and economically sensible for this specific waste quantity. What cannot be further utilized by means of mechanical recycling is available for chemical recycling, always with the aim of preserving the maximum possible amount of carbon compounds. Burning waste containing plastics at the end of the chain is thus eliminated.

The challenges for research and development are considerable. These include the complex evaluation of both input materials and recyclates according to ecological, economic and technical criteria. Mechanical recycling must be optimized, and processes and technologies must be established for the key points in the material utilization of plastic fractions. In addition, suitable sensor technology must be developed that can reliably identify materials in the sorting system. Machine learning methods will also be used, and the aim is to link them to a digital twin that represents the properties of the processed materials.

Another goal of the project is the automated optimization of the formulation development of recyclates from different material streams. Last but not least, an economic evaluation of the new recycling process chain will be carried out, for example with regard to the effects of rising prices for CO2 certificates or new regulatory requirements. The project consortium will also conduct comprehensive life cycle analysis (LCA) studies for the individual recycling technologies to identify potential environmental risks and opportunities.

For the development of the corresponding solutions, the participating institutes are in close exchange with companies from the chemical industry and plastics processing, waste management, recycling plant construction and recycling plant operation, in order to consider the needs of industry in a targeted manner and thus increase the chances of rapid application of the results achieved.

The following Institutes are involved in the Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Waste4Future":

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS (lead)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Non-Destructive Testing IZFP
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategy IWKS
  • Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB
  • Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV
Photo: Pixabay
29.06.2021

A sustainable Circular Economy: Polypropylene Recycling from Carpet Waste

A significant part of carpet waste consists of petroleum-based polypropylene. As a non-recyclable product, disposing of it has previously meant incineration or landfill. However, a new solvent is now making it possible to recover virgin-standard polypropylene from carpet waste — with no perceptible reduction in quality. Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP and its partners, the process also involves costs that are quite competitive. The development has taken place as part of the ISOPREP EU project.

The EU alone produces around 1.6 million tons of carpet waste every year. The majority of this ends up being sent to landfill or incinerated, as carpet is a composite material that is not suitable for purely mechanical recycling methods. With carpet waste analysed in the project consisting of around a quarter polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic, the result is a great deal of resources going to waste.

A significant part of carpet waste consists of petroleum-based polypropylene. As a non-recyclable product, disposing of it has previously meant incineration or landfill. However, a new solvent is now making it possible to recover virgin-standard polypropylene from carpet waste — with no perceptible reduction in quality. Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP and its partners, the process also involves costs that are quite competitive. The development has taken place as part of the ISOPREP EU project.

The EU alone produces around 1.6 million tons of carpet waste every year. The majority of this ends up being sent to landfill or incinerated, as carpet is a composite material that is not suitable for purely mechanical recycling methods. With carpet waste analysed in the project consisting of around a quarter polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic, the result is a great deal of resources going to waste.

Carpet recycling now possible thanks to a new process
A team of researchers, including from Fraunhofer IBP, has now developed a new recycling process as part of an EU project named ISOPREP (see logo). “For the first time, this is making it possible to recover polypropylene from carpet waste — and the outcome is virgin-quality,” says Maike Illner, a researcher at Fraunhofer IBP. Not only does this allow the recovered polypropylene to be used in lower-quality products (in a process known as downcycling), but it also means that the quality is similar to that of newly manufactured polypropylene, making the material suitable for high-quality products too.

The process is based on a special solvent in the form of an ionic liquid. With the right components, it is able to selectively extract polypropylene from carpet fibers. Before the team of experts applies the solvent, the carpet waste is cleaned — something which involves removing as much of the backing as possible — and broken down. Once the pretreatment is complete, the waste is fed into a reactor in which it undergoes treatment using the solvent. The polypropylene is selectively dissolved in the solvent, a method that provides an effective way of removing dyes and other additives. The process is already being used on an extensive laboratory scale involving several liters of the solvent — and now, the research consortium has set its sights on scaling the process up to a pilot plant with the ability to recycle a ton of carpet waste per day. The pilot plant is set to commence operation by the end of the project in March 2022.

Costs and environmental impact
A recycling process can only be deployed on a large scale if its costs are competitive. For this application, this means retaining as much of the expensive ionic liquid as possible in the cycle. “If loss rates can be kept to one percent or less, there is potential for the costs of the process to rival those of producing new polypropylene,” explains Illner. “We know this thanks to a preliminary economic analysis that we conducted at Fraunhofer IBP.” The analysis involved the Fraunhofer researchers investigating the quantities of material and energy that would be required for the process and what kind of product would be output, and then calculating the associated costs. The team also considered how the costs would develop over the long term.

Fraunhofer IBP is focusing on the ecological aspects of carpet recycling. It is able to draw conclusions from factors including a lifecycle assessment, which sheds light on the emissions that are produced during the recycling process, for example. If the consortium is able to achieve its aim of keeping solvent loss rates to one percent or less in this case too, primary energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions will remain on a similar scale to those involved in producing new polypropylene.

Potential for transfer to other polypropylene waste streams
While carpet waste is the focus of this particular project, the process that has been developed has potential applications far beyond it. The experts involved believe that it could be transferred to a whole host of waste flows that contain polypropylene and are unsuitable for conventional recycling methods. “One example is polypropylene products that contain dyes and additives,” says Illner. “Until now, it has been difficult to extract them from plastic, which means that the recycled polypropylene has only been suitable for use in lower-quality products.” The new process separates the polypropylene not only from other materials, but also from dyes and other additives, allowing it to be used in high-quality applications.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement no. 820787.

(c) Fraunhofer IAP
08.06.2021

Fraunhofer IAP: Recyclable, Fiber-reinforced Material made from Bio-based Polylactic Acid

"Packaging made from bio-based plastics has long been established. We are now supporting the further development of these materials for new areas of application. If in the future the market also offers plant-based materials for technically demanding tasks such as vehicle construction, the bioeconomy will take a decisive step forward," explained Uwe Feiler, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in Potsdam. The occasion was the handover of a grant to the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. The Fraunhofer IAP wants to develop a composite material that consists entirely of bio-based polylactic acid (PLA) and is significantly easier to recycle than conventional fiber composites.

"Packaging made from bio-based plastics has long been established. We are now supporting the further development of these materials for new areas of application. If in the future the market also offers plant-based materials for technically demanding tasks such as vehicle construction, the bioeconomy will take a decisive step forward," explained Uwe Feiler, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in Potsdam. The occasion was the handover of a grant to the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. The Fraunhofer IAP wants to develop a composite material that consists entirely of bio-based polylactic acid (PLA) and is significantly easier to recycle than conventional fiber composites.

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is intensively promoting the development of biomaterials as part of its Renewable Resources funding program. More than 100 projects are currently underway, covering a wide range of topics: from plastics that are degradable in the sea to natural fiber-reinforced lightweight components for the automotive sector. The projects are supported by the Agency for Renewable Resources, the BMEL project management agency responsible for the Renewable Resources funding program.

Easier recycling of fiber-reinforced plastics
PLA is one of the particularly promising bio-based materials. The global market for this polymer is growing by around 10 percent a year. PLA is also used, among other things, as a matrix in fiber-reinforced plastics. In these mechanically resilient plastics, reinforcing fibers are embedded in a plastic matrix.

The Fraunhofer IAP project is now focusing on these reinforcing fibers: "We are further developing our PLA fibers in order to transfer them to industrial scale together with partners from industry. These fibers are ideally suited for reinforcing PLA plastics. The resulting self-reinforcing single-component composite promises great recycling benefits. Since the fiber and the matrix of PLA are chemically identical, complex separation steps are not necessary," explains Dr. André Lehmann, expert for fiber technology at Fraunhofer IAP.

Novel PLA fibers and films are more thermally stable
The challenge with this approach is that conventional PLA has a relatively low temperature resistance. Technical fibers can be produced most economically using the melt spinning process. The Fraunhofer IAP team is now using more thermally stable stereocomplex PLA (sc-PLA) for the fibers. The term stereocomplex refers to a special crystal structure that the PLA molecules can form. Sc-PLA fibers have a melting point that is 40 - 50 °C higher and can therefore withstand the incorporation process in a matrix made of conventional PLA. In the project, the researchers are developing and optimizing a melt spinning process for sc-PLA filament yarns. The partner in this work package is Trevira GmbH, a manufacturer of technical and textile fiber and filament yarn specialties that are in demand from automotive suppliers and contract furnishers, among others. Furthermore, the development of a manufacturing process for sc-PLA reinforced flat films is planned. The international adhesive tape manufacturer tesa SE is participating in this task, and will test the suitability of sc-PLA films as adhesive foils. In a third work package, the Fraunhofer IAP will finally process the filaments in a double pultrusion process to produce granules suitable for injection molding.

Bio-based solutions for the automotive and textile industries
The scientists led by Dr. André Lehmann are certain that the self-reinforced PLA material can conquer many new areas of application. The automotive and textile industries are already showing interest in bio-based materials that are also easier to recycle. In terms of price, PLA would already be competitive here, and now the material is also to be made technically fit for the new tasks.

Professor Alexander Böker, head of Fraunhofer IAP, says: "The steadily growing demand from industry for sustainable solutions underlines how important it is to develop biobased and at the same time high-performance materials. With our research, we are also actively driving the development of a sustainable and functioning circular economy and therefore very much welcome the support from the federal government."

Information on the project is available at fnr.de under the funding code 2220NR297X.

Photo: pixabay
13.04.2021

KPMG Study in Cooperation with EHI: Fashion 2030

For years now, fashion retail has been able to show a moderate but steady growth in sales. However, the share of sales accounted for by online retail is becoming significantly stronger, and consequently that of stationary retail is becoming weaker. In just 10 years, online fashion retail will have a market share as high as that of local fashion stores, according to one of the findings of the study "Fashion 2030 - Seeing what fashion will be tomorrow" by KPMG in cooperation with EHI. "For retailers, the decline in sales in the stationary sector means that they have to reduce their stationary areas," says Marco Atzberger, Managing Director of EHI. A dilemma, because the majority of customers prefer to shop in their local fashion store, despite all the online alternatives.

For years now, fashion retail has been able to show a moderate but steady growth in sales. However, the share of sales accounted for by online retail is becoming significantly stronger, and consequently that of stationary retail is becoming weaker. In just 10 years, online fashion retail will have a market share as high as that of local fashion stores, according to one of the findings of the study "Fashion 2030 - Seeing what fashion will be tomorrow" by KPMG in cooperation with EHI. "For retailers, the decline in sales in the stationary sector means that they have to reduce their stationary areas," says Marco Atzberger, Managing Director of EHI. A dilemma, because the majority of customers prefer to shop in their local fashion store, despite all the online alternatives.

Textiles, media and electrical goods are currently the categories most frequently purchased online. Consumers believe that online shopping in these categories will also be particularly attractive in the future, although there is also considerable interest in online purchasing of furniture, drugstore and hardware store products.

With sales of 16.5 billion euros, online fashion retail already accounts for 25 percent of total fashion sales, which were around 66 billion euros in 2020. The experts at KPMG and EHI predict that this share will double in the next ten years. The forecasted annual sales of 79.2 billion euros in 2030 are to be divided equally between online and stationary stores. In order to position itself correctly here, the textile trade is facing strategic changes in terms of sustainability and digitization in addition to reductions in retail space. Concepts such as circular economy (recycling) or re-commerce (second-hand) are just as much part of the customer's demands as a smooth (channel-independent) shopping experience or a targeted customer approach.

Online information sources are becoming increasingly important for customers. However, browsing in stores continues to be the main source of information when shopping. One exception, however, is electrical goods - the independent opinion of reviews is the most important source of information here.

Reductions in retail space
As the market share of online fashion retail is becoming increasingly stronger than that of the overall fashion market, there will be a scissor effect for the stationary clothing retail – unless decisive parameters such as store rents change. Permanently reducing the share of fixed costs in the stationary sector can lead to a harmonization of both sales channels and prevent massive cannibalization effects, according to the authors of the study. The reduction in retail space will have the most severe impact on department stores and multi-story formats. Interviews with retail experts show that the retail expects a reduction in space of around 50 percent by 2030 and anticipates shrinkages of up to 70 percent at peak times. However, the current crisis also offers fashion retailers a greater choice of appealing rental spaces and therefore the opportunity to position themselves for the future by strategically streamlining their own store networks, adapting their space and differentiating their concepts to suit their target customers - in combination with smart digital solutions.

Multi-channel approaches are continuing to grow. On the one hand, stationary retailers will increasingly enter the online market; on the other hand, it can be observed that the opening of their own local stores by previously online-only retailers is on the rise.

Shopping experience
For a successful shopping experience, the city centers must be vibrant as well as attractive and should offer entertainment. All of this requires cooperation between all of the local players involved and collaboration with conceptually oriented urban development. To increase the individual customer loyalty and build real trust, fashion retailers must invest more in emotionality and use IT solutions. Whether in-store or online, customers want a targeted and smooth shopping experience, which for retailers means cleverly linking the systems. Availability and finding clothes in the right size also play a significant role in the stationary fashion retail. 42 percent of customers say that they would shop more often in stores, if these factors were guaranteed.

Already today, a concrete shortage of qualified personnel can be observed in certain regions and areas of responsibility. This is likely to become even more severe in the future. The retail’s own qualification measures will increase, and the industry's image will have to be improved.

Despite all technological support, the human being remains the most important factor in retailing - 88 percent agree on this. For 60 percent of consumers, encounters with people in a retail store are becoming increasingly important.

Sustainability
For almost half of the consumers surveyed (46 percent), sustainability is already a worthwhile concept today. This also includes re-commerce and second-hand. 34 percent of customers already buy used clothing, and another 28 percent can imagine doing so. In terms of occasions, a large proportion can also imagine renting clothing. The second-hand clothing trend has the potential to claim a market share of up to 20 percent in the next ten years and therefore to become a significant market segment in fashion retail.

In addition to the sustainability debate, the main factors driving this trend are the digitalization of the "second-hand store around the corner" and the large online fashion platforms that are discovering this market for themselves and making consumers increasingly aware of the models of temporary use.

Laws and regulations as well as increasing pressure from stakeholders have contributed to the growing importance of sustainability. However, the consumer goods sector attaches greater importance than other sectors to the aspect of being able to achieve a reputational gain through a sustainability strategy.

When it comes to the circular economy or rather the recycling of raw materials from used clothing, many companies are already involved in non-profit initiatives and research projects to develop the relevant technologies. In 2030, also due to legal initiatives, many clothing items will probably be made from recycled textile raw materials or fibers, which would substantially shorten the supply chains. "Automated fiber recovery, increasing unit labor costs in the Far East and fewer used textiles, this is the starting point for a perspective revival of textile production in countries close to Europe as well as in Europe itself," says Stephan Fetsch, Head of Retail EMA at KPMG. Although circular economy does not yet play a major role due to the current limited availability, it shows great potential: 28 percent have already purchased recycled textiles, and over 50 percent are positive about it.

Customers believe that retailers and manufacturers are responsible for sustainability. They, on the other hand, would like consumers to initiate the upswing of re-commerce by changing their behavior. New compliance guidelines will have an accelerating effect on the development of the re-commerce market.

Source:

(Studies; KPMG/EHI or rather KPMG):
- Fashion 2030: Sehen, was morgen Mode ist (Seeing what fashion will be tomorrow - only available in German)
- CONSUMER MARKETS: Trends in Handel 2020 (Trends in Retail 2020 - only available in German)

(c) Neonyt/Messe Frankfurt GmbH
30.03.2021

Circularity and Fashion: Interview about the Business and Communication Platform Neonyt

Circular instead of throwaway economy - from fast fashion to zero-waste philosophy. The key elements of the circular economy in the fashion business are: Avoiding waste and pollution through new processes, continuous recycling of products and materials, and regeneration of natural systems. Textination talked with Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, from Messe Frankfurt about the Neonyt trade show as a business and communication platform for circularity & fashion.
 
It has been about 10 years since Messe Frankfurt ventured onto the "sustainable" fashion trade show stage. Initially with the Ethical Fashion Show, then with the Greenshowroom, there were two trade show formats in Berlin dedicated to the topic of green fashion. What prompted you as a trade show organizer to launch such a special format in Germany at that time?

Circular instead of throwaway economy - from fast fashion to zero-waste philosophy. The key elements of the circular economy in the fashion business are: Avoiding waste and pollution through new processes, continuous recycling of products and materials, and regeneration of natural systems. Textination talked with Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, from Messe Frankfurt about the Neonyt trade show as a business and communication platform for circularity & fashion.
 
It has been about 10 years since Messe Frankfurt ventured onto the "sustainable" fashion trade show stage. Initially with the Ethical Fashion Show, then with the Greenshowroom, there were two trade show formats in Berlin dedicated to the topic of green fashion. What prompted you as a trade show organizer to launch such a special format in Germany at that time?

Olaf Schmidt: Messe Frankfurt's Texpertise Network brings together the world's most important textile trade shows - at around 60 events worldwide, we show what drives the textile and fashion industry. We present the current topics and trends and set impulses for the entire textile value chain. Messe Frankfurt recognized the need for a suitable platform for the future topic of sustainability at an early stage. It was therefore obvious to expand our expertise in the field of fashion and to meet the demand from this segment. To achieve this, we have adapted and realigned existing formats: After launching the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris in 2004, Messe Frankfurt France took over the event in 2010. Two years later, Messe Frankfurt founded the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin in Germany and found, with the moving of the event to the polarizing capital, the ideal location for the coming years. Messe Frankfurt merged the already existing Greenshowroom with the Ethical Fashion Show, and from January 2015 the two shows took place in one venue. For Messe Frankfurt, hosting these events was the next logical step on our way to a sustainable fashion future - the concept is now established in the sustainable fashion market and has a continuous growth potential. The merging of the trade show duo in 2019, with the current name Neonyt, allowed us, our exhibitors and visitors a new content orientation and a holistic approach to the topic of sustainability as well as a more direct access to the conventional fashion market, especially with regard to retail. In summer 2021, Neonyt will take place for the first time in the new fashion hotspot Frankfurt as part of the new Frankfurt Fashion Week.

 
In 2019, both event formats were merged, the new trade show Neonyt was born and 1 + 1 became what? What components does Neonyt offer in addition to the previous trade show concepts, what is so "new-new" and how did you actually come up with the name?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: One plus one, as you so nicely put it, did not simply add up to two with Neonyt. One plus one equals unique, neo-new, internationally relevant: Among other things, the trade show business was supplemented by the international conference format Fashionsustain and a showcase to gradually bring
together the topic of sustainability with the topics of technology, innovation and prepress. Our content creator format Prepeek ensures the necessary lifestyle and the fashion show provides the glamour of the fashion world. Neonyt combines the most important elements of the international textile and fashion industry - style, business, inspiration, innovation, knowledge, fun and community. And that is exactly what makes Neonyt so "new-new". Progressive and polarizing - the artificial word Neonyt is derived from the ancient Greek word "neo" (eng. new, revolutionary) and the Scandinavian word "nytt" (eng. new). "The renewed new" - Neonyt is our synonym for the fundamental transformation process of the textile and fashion industry, a reinterpretation of what has already been there and our commitment not to stand still and to promote positive change together.

 
For the Neonyt trade show format, you have teamed up with partners - for example, for conferencing components and in the design area. What expertise do they provide, and what is the added value for exhibitors and visitors?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: We know which future topics our brands and the community are currently dealing with and therefore create the right platform - for personal encounters and exchange, for networking and successful business deals. To put it simply: we organize trade shows, we organize events, we provide the right setting, we connect people and business. Neonyt therefore forms the global interface between the various players in the textile and fashion industry - between industry, trade, politics, services and consumption. And so that a lively, transparent and, above all, authentic dialog can develop between all counterparts, we naturally draw on the knowledge of industry experts and form strong partnerships to push fashion and sustainability forward. Only together can we achieve real change and guarantee that our community is provided with sufficient and, above all, the right information to make self-determined decisions.
 

In recent years, the keyword circularity - or rather closing the loop - has been encountered everywhere in the fashion industry. Whether Stella McCartney, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, or large retail groups - many players and decision-makers are of the opinion that the future of the fashion world lies only in a circular economy and not in downcycling of any kind. What is Neonyt's view on this?
         
Thimo Schwenzfeier: That's right, the concept of circular economy is not new, nor is it limited to the textile and fashion industry. Circularity - actually the ultimate for every product, every industry, for our global society. The concept is supposedly simple: All materials and products are kept in a closed loop, the useful life is increased and at the end of the product life cycle everything is recycled. Many sustainable fashion labels are already showing how it's done. Neonyt brands are right at the forefront and are already implementing practices that should become the norm as soon as possible: starting with T-shirts or shoes made from recycled materials and take-back systems for collection items. As well as compostable clothing that "dissolves" at the end of the product life cycle and breaks down into its natural components, and on to repair services and leasing models for denim and co. - thinking holistically, acting in a sustainable manner and producing in a circular way are definitely the trends of the coming fashion seasons and at least one important, if not the most important, component of the future fashion world.

 
For the idea of a circular economy to be implemented successfully, there needs to be an interplay between technology, production, design and sales. What presentation options and forms of communication does Neonyt have in store for the various components?  

Thimo Schwenzfeier: The combined innovative power of technology, sustainability and digitization is an important driver of the current developments in the textile and fashion industry - including the topic of circularity. Processes and production sequences are changing along the entire value chain - the industry has to reinvent itself for the most part. Neonyt shows how this can work successfully in the long term, with the internationally established Fashionsustain conference format - including spin-offs in China, Europe and the USA - and the supplementary Showcase. Together, these two formats offer the ideal mix of orientation and inspiration to prepare the industry for the future. Virtual fashion, authentic brands and textile value chains, science and innovation as well as retail, business models and impact investment - at Fashionsustain, top-class experts will exchange ideas with an interested professional audience and discuss the change and new solutions in the textile and fashion industry. The Neonyt Showcase takes a deeper look at the topics and innovations presented and discussed on the Fashionsustain stage. Expert knowledge on-demand, so to speak: whether microfactories or installations - Neonyt brands as well as brands from the rest of the Texpertise Network of Messe Frankfurt, such as exhibitors at Texprocess, get the chance to present sustainable innovations, new technologies and materials, initiatives, change-maker campaigns or research projects. Here they interact directly and practically with Neonyt's international cross-sector community.
 

Last year was an unprecedented challenge for trade show companies due to the pandemic situation. Neonyt was also affected by this - and physical events had to be canceled. With a digital format "Neonyt on Air" you have tried to offer exhibitors and visitors an alternative platform. What has been your experience: Did the focus of the trade show and its community perhaps even help to make such a virtual event easier to launch? 

Olaf Schmidt: Corona has already changed a lot and will certainly continue to do so in one way or another. Nevertheless, it will continue to be our task as trade show organizers to offer the industry the best possible meeting platforms for presenting their new products worldwide. We are convinced that people will continue to want to meet in person and discuss new products as well as services in the future. This is particularly the case in the textile sector, where haptics plays a very crucial role. We expect that there will even be a certain catch-up effect after the crisis. Because what the last two very successful digital seasons of Neonyt on Air, for example, have nevertheless shown clearly: Fashion lives from personalities, presentation and inspiration. Digital formats can support this, but they cannot fully replace it.
 
Thimo Schwenzfeier: The digital Neonyt on Air was far from being a total replacement for the original physical seasons, but nevertheless a huge success. For one week, fashion, lifestyle and digital experts were discussing about more authenticity, immediacy and transparency in the textile and fashion industry in numerous keynotes, interviews and panel discussions. With more than 24,000 international followers on Instagram, we generated around 50,000 impressions and more than 4,700 content interactions with our presenting partners Grüner Knopf, Hessnatur and Oeko-Tex in just five days. These figures show, that the topic of sustainability has arrived in the middle of society and is being discussed across all industries. I think that the polarization and, above all, the prevailing restrictions, as far as trade and commerce are concerned, have certainly contributed to holding a successful digital format. Digitization was truly the booster for the fashion industry in this case: Instead of replacing personal exchange, it helps to maintain and expand the business activities of brands, especially in the current times. And quite clearly, the need for exchange in the fashion industry and the motivation to initiate together a change are still enormous. Neonyt on Air has once again shown us that clearly. However, we are already looking forward to the next physical edition of Neonyt.
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also left its mark on the textile and clothing industry. When you look back on just under a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement, for what support are you grateful for and where did you feel you were left on your own? 

Olaf Schmidt: A year like no other - that can clearly be said about the last one. The Corona pandemic caught everyone off guard - us as trade show organizers, but of course also our exhibitors, visitors and partners. Especially in the near future, we must continue to expect, that trade shows can only be held under stricter health and safety regulations at first. Messe Frankfurt reacted quickly and developed a comprehensive safety and hygiene concept. One thing was clear: we all had to adjust and deal with a new situation. And so far, we've done a great job together, the team understanding among each other, the close contact - although physically at a distance, but globally networked - between all those involved, makes me feel positive about the future. For me, an important realization of this global pandemic, a credo almost, is to be open to new ways and opportunities and to find ways to combine things rather than separate them: Hybrid solutions, so to speak.    

Thimo Schwenzfeier: There was no master plan for Neonyt, and in places there was also the impression that we now had to "reinvent the wheel": How does collaboration work when face-to-face meetings cannot take place? Can digitized contact compensate for the social distancing that is currently being imposed and still make it possible to work closely together? How can business relationships be maintained when stores are closed? How can priorities be set when well-tested solutions and established annual plans lose their validity? Who am I, who are 'the others' and what defines community? Never have questions about our creation and existence, about what makes us who we are and what we want to be, been more relevant than right now. One thing that I take away from the current situation and that allows me to continue to look forward positively despite difficult circumstances is the fact, that cohesion and solidarity with one another - both privately and professionally - have become increasingly important. Like a magnifying glass, the crisis has magnified existing opportunities, but also challenges, and brought the essentials into focus. I think that if we continue to try to experience things more consciously and not take them for granted, we will manage together to create a " new normal " and leave this crisis with more strength.
 

As in the past in Berlin, Neonyt is currently also located in Frankfurt in the environment of the Fashion Week and conventional trade shows. Can you imagine that a special event concept like Neonyt will be unnecessary in a few years, because the circularity concept will have established itself in the clothing industry worldwide?

Olaf Schmidt: A clear no. Sustainability per se is already no longer a unique selling point. The important thing is to keep up with the times, to follow trends or, even better, to track down new trends yourself and develop them further. Things, strategies, concepts will always change - if last year showed us one thing, it was certainly that. It is more than desirable that we all learn from this crisis and reflect on the really important values, on solidarity between partners, on climate protection and sustainability. It may be exactly for this reason, that companies that place particular emphasis on sustainability will emerge even stronger from this crisis. So you can be sure that we, as a leading international trade show organizer for the textile industry, will continue to focus on sustainability and support future-oriented companies and solutions. However, this will not make our formats obsolete due to the establishment and normalization of holistic business practices in the textile industry. But it is impossible to make an exact forecast for the coming decades. Over the last few months, we have all noticed ourselves in our personal everyday lives or in our professional lives, how uncertain and volatile the future is. What is clear, however, is that the fashion industry - the world in general - will change even faster than before. And therein lies the opportunity for formats like Neonyt. The ten-year history shows in how many directions Neonyt has already developed, content focal points have been shifted and it has reinvented itself - this will also be the case in the future.
 

Mr. Schwenzfeier, in addition to your role as Director of Marketing Communications for Messe Frankfurt's textile exhibitions, you have also been Show Director of Neonyt since 2018. You have spoken to many exhibitors and visitors - which ideas or creations have particularly impressed you?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: I think it's not so much the individual innovations or creations of the exhibitors at our trade shows. And I deliberately choose the plural here. Because in my function as Director of Marketing Communications in the Textiles & Textile Technologies division of Messe Frankfurt, Neonyt is just one of "my" events. I think it's more the variety of fashion, technical and professional innovations that brands, labels, companies, start-ups and designers present every year. But if I really had to choose one innovation, it would probably be the vegan "Currywurst" sneakers made of red pepper and recycled PET bottles - the same label also offers shoes made of wood, stone, coffee and mushrooms or now even meteorite particles. It is impressive to experience every season anew of how creative the textile and fashion industry is.
 

Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus also having the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, about which entrepreneurial decision by Messe Frankfurt are you particularly glad, that you made?
 
Olaf Schmidt: Clearly the decision to create Neonyt. To establish our own trade show format for fashion, sustainability and innovation and to integrate the freedom and lifestyle, which entail this topic, into our event. After more than a decade, we may be saying goodbye to Berlin in 2021, but not to our community and our spirit. Together we look back on many fashionable seasons and great locations in the capital: starting in the Hotel Adlon Kempinski to the Ewerk, the Postbahnhof, the Kronprinzenpalais, the Funkhaus and the Kraftwerk to the last physical event in Tempelhof. With the turn of the year and in the setting of Frankfurt Fashion Week, Neonyt is about to move to the metropolis by the Main. In Frankfurt, worlds collide: Skyscrapers and 19th-century villas. Architectural sins and masterpieces. Business and middle class. Red-light district and luxury boulevard. Frankfurt Fashion Week sets new impulses in this area of conflict. And in the middle of all this is Neonyt. The signs are pointing to a new beginning - a restart for the entire fashion industry, together we are taking sustainability to the next level - the focus topics Applied Sustainability and Applied Digitization are creating a completely new Fashion Week ecosystem in the metropolis by the Main.
 

If everything works out, Neonyt can be held again as a face-to-face event for the first time in July 2021. What are your plans? What and who can visitors look forward to? And what backup is there for a worst-case scenario?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: Of course, due to the currently ongoing tense situation around Covid-19, it is difficult to make binding statements about the next physical event. However, we are cur rently expecting the situation to ease into the summer summer 2021 is therefore on the health of everyone - exhibitors, visitors, partners and employees of Neonyt. Messe Frankfurt has developed a concept that includes detailed hygienic measures: Hygiene, distance and fresh air supply are important factors, which we coordinate with the responsible authorities in Frankfurt and those in charge of Frankfurt Fashion Week. In due course, the Neonyt community will receive advice and recommendations for the trade show attendance and participation, that comply with current regulations. We have not yet thought about a concrete backup for a worst-case scenario, as we are currently anticipating a physical B2B event - but the last two seasons have shown, should it not be possible to hold the Neonyt face-to-face, that we are quite well positioned with the digital Neonyt on Air and could certainly adapt the format for another summer event. We regularly exchange ideas with all market participants and try to get a sense of opinions and wishes from our community through surveys. Wait and see, one might say - in the end, we also have to act according to what the current health situation allows and what decisions are made by politicians.

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
Managing Partner, Textination GmbH

Wanted: Start-ups with innovations for textile care © Photo: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jens Liebchen
09.02.2021

Wanted: Start-ups with innovations for textile care

From 24-hour deliveries, status tracking and green packaging to textile recycling and innovative cleaning technology: new services have the potential to revolutionise the business of dry cleaners and laundries. Against this background, Messe Frankfurt invites start-ups to present their products and ideas at Texcare International. The world’s most important event for the textile-care sector in Frankfurt am Main from 27 November to 1 December 2021 offers young entrepreneurs outstanding opportunities to draw the market’s attention to their innovations.

From 24-hour deliveries, status tracking and green packaging to textile recycling and innovative cleaning technology: new services have the potential to revolutionise the business of dry cleaners and laundries. Against this background, Messe Frankfurt invites start-ups to present their products and ideas at Texcare International. The world’s most important event for the textile-care sector in Frankfurt am Main from 27 November to 1 December 2021 offers young entrepreneurs outstanding opportunities to draw the market’s attention to their innovations.

The demands placed by both private and commercial customers on textile care are extremely high, especially in terms of speed, immediate availability, transparent communication and sustainable solutions. In this connection, Johannes Schmid-Wiedersheim, Director of Texcare International at Messe Frankfurt, says, “Start-ups have an important role to play when it comes to promoting digitalisation and sustainability in the world of textile care. In many cases, they succeed quickly in transforming the results of scientific research or trends from other sectors into useful projects. To support this, we want specifically to promote young, agile companies at Texcare International and offer them an attractive ‘Start-up Package’.”

Digital platforms offer dry cleaners and laundries an opportunity to promote their services online in a modern way. Summarising what makes these platforms so important, Daniel Dalkowski, Managing Director of the European Research Association for Innovative Textile Care (EFIT), says, “Digital platforms are undoubtedly one of the most important achievements of recent times – not just because there are so many of them but also because they have found imitators in the sector. In this case, the innovation is to be seen in a combination of ordering, flexible logistics and billing in a smartphone app or online platform.”

With their robotics solutions and bright ideas for artificial intelligence, IT start-ups help textile care companies on their way to becoming smart laundries. Elgar Straub, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Care, Fabric and Leather Technologies, explains how machine and plant manufacturers have benefited from their input: “In the field of mechanical engineering, an important role is played by start-ups offering technical solutions covering a broad spectrum of sectors, e.g., virtual machine commissioning and the optimisation of production process chains.”

Naturally, company founders in other disciplines are also putting forward their ideas. Against the background of the plastic waste debate, there are, for instance, numerous start-ups offering biodegradable packaging materials. As well, there are start-ups in the field of textile recycling, which process used workwear or laundry and thus contribute to the circular economy. And what does the future hold for the sector? One thing is for the experts certain: artificial intelligence and automation offer a great potential for ‘outsiders’ with genuine innovations to gain a foothold in the market. Improvements in the logistics chain of laundries and dry cleaners also have excellent chances of success.

Market entry at Texcare International Texcare
International from 27 November to 1 December 2021 offers start-ups an outstanding opportunity to draw attention to their services and to make contact with established companies. The Start-up Package of Messe Frankfurt includes a turnkey exhibition stand.

The prerequisites for participation:

  • The company was founded no more than ten years ago per 27 November 2021
  • The company employs max. ten people.
  • The annual turnover does not exceed € 1 million (net).
  • The start-up offers innovative products or services especially for the textile-care sector.

The product spectrum of Texcare International embraces machines and plant, laundry and cleaning substances, IT and logistics solutions and workwear and laundry.

More information:
texcare Startup Start-ups
Source:

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH