This month LCNi carries two features focussing on the textile care industries’ sustainability. Much of these centre on the environment – the finite nature of resources hence the need to save water and energy and reduce carbon emissions – but the concept is more complex and wider-reaching.

Sustainability means survival in its widest sense, commercial and financial as well as environmental. All management strategies need to be aimed at this goal, including those for sales and marketing. The need to be more efficient applies throughout the business, not just to production and the machines used in the processes.

Many companies are already pursuing “green” policies and often have a specific person in charge of devising and implementing these. That person will be looking at the machines and how operators are using them. Staff at all levels should be encouraged to think about how they work and how they can contribute to the business’s overall efficiency. Management also needs to make them feel valued for doing so. However good the policy, it is the staff that will make it work.

Often, simple, day-to-day measures will help. These could include switching to energy-efficient lighting, turning off lights when a room is left empty, making sure that machines are not left running when not in use and ensuring that shift patterns and shut-down procedures are designed to minimise waste.

Although, in the long-term, specialist equipment may be needed, this practical approach is one of the first steps and the basis for obtaining maximum benefit from any investment in resource-saving equipment.

Regular maintenance is also part of this practical approach. Machines that are poorly maintained cannot perform at their best and may waste utilities and increase running costs.

Having contingency plans in place to keep the business running when disasters occur is another aspect of sustainability. For, although the environment is often quoted, these strategies will improve the way businesses operate so that they can be profitable. The textile care industries provide a valuable service and each business needs to play its part in ensuring they can continue to do so.

So with the long-term future in mind, I wish all readers a happy new year. The journal starts 2012 with a fresh design. I hope you like it.