At the ETSA Congress held recently in Rome, a panel discussion moderated by ETSA chairman Andreas Holzer started with him stating what is on everybody’s mind in the textile services industry: “Emissions to be cut by 2030. The circular economy. Apple has now decided you can repair your phones and replace the battery – great news. Renting instead of selling. Operators give it back refurbish, re–rent…re-sell.”
Looking out on delegates in the room, Holzer asked: “How the Hell can we become circular? The EU says there are four issues food, housing mobility and you textile guys. We are going to make you more circular. In the textile service industry we don’t sell products, we sell solutions. One of our major goals is to explain the difference. We are the white sheep, but not all black sheep are bad…Circularity must be on everybody’s agenda.”
Providing some answers to Holzer’s query, the session featured a video from Amit Gautam of Textile Genesis on pioneering fibre-to-retail traceability platforms and how blockchain technology using ‘textile coins’ could herald a new future for textiles. For the uninitiated, according to euromoney.com, a blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. It is supposedly impossible to change, hack or cheat the system.
Following on, Jukka Pekka Ovaska presented on co-creating sustainable textile systems, and not by halves, saying he was here to argue not about doing one activity to close the circle but to adopt a systems strategy adding: “Using that point of view, completely redesign your company for a net impact on what it is a part of.” In other words, forget the traditional linear business layout, take all the different strands from raw materials, supply chain, product, end-of-life and bind them all together into a circle. “If you can view your company as part of broader system, there is a good chance your company will be one of the forerunners of the circular economy.”
Amaury Sartorius of Klopman spoke about new approaches to textile recycling and sustainability in the framework of the new EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles. The last session of the workshop was given by Claire Bottineau, pictured, of Elis, an example of a company's engagement towards fighting climate change aligned with the Paris Agreements.
The EU Commission vision is that by 2030 textiles must be:
• Long life
• Made from recyclable fibres
• Free of hazardous materials
• Good for the environment
• Producers take responsibility through chain
Sartorious said Klopman is participating in many projects from linear to circular and emphasised it is important for the industry to be involved. We are looking at all options and we want to be part of it. We are investing heavily in renaissance textiles – one of our largest circular economy projects.”
Green recovery part 2 – attracting new talent
Dr Maren Otte, group director of corporate communications and corporate responsibilities at CWS moderated a second Green Recovery panel discussion focusing on attracting talent to the industry. Marie Hélène Pradines of the European Commission gave a video address on the ‘The EU PACT for Skills’ welcoming the panellists. Representing the younger generation Nikola Kašparová of APaC and Jean Carlo Alves da Silva of Elis had their own ideas on what can be done.
The panel also featured a presentation from the German textile services association DTV's Andreas Schumacher who presented the new E-Washboard mobile app which puts E-learning in the hands of anyone with a mobile phone. He also discussed ‘Educate!’ the EU-funded project on which ETSA has worked extensively with national associations.
ETSA has partnered with Heurekanet, the Belgian Textile Federation, the German Textile Cleaning Association, the Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish Textile Service Association in supporting the project ‘Improving E-learning in the textile care sector’ funded by ERASMUS +.
Schumacher explained that expanding industrial laundry, textile rentals and improved textile services overall, is one way Europe can embrace sustainability and circularity.
Professor Giorgos Demetriu of the Circular Economy Research Center gave a presentation on "Preparing young people's domains of professional interest in the framework of the upcoming climate transformation’. This workshop was concluded by Dr Hubertus Dieckmann, head of human resources at Alsco Germany, who spoke on not only attracting new talents to the textile service industry, but also pondered on the best strategies for better staff retention and engagement.