It was raining outside, but inside discussions were warming up during the recently organised four-day-long Textile Sustainability Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. The organiser, Textile Exchange, a global non-profit institution that creates leaders in the sustainable fibre and materials industry, claimed that the conference was the largest on the topic of sustainable textiles ever held in North America with more than 900 industry leaders from 48 countries.
‘Take Action-Accelerate Change’ was this year’s conference theme. Apart from some important announcements made by the companies, Textile Exchange also announced the new 2030 Strategy:Climate+. Under this, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 35 to 45 per cent reduced CO2 emissions from textile fibre and material production by 2030. This goal seems very important as textile industry contributes 10 per cent of global CO2 emissions.
In the words of La Rhea Pepper, MD, Textile Exchange, “The Climate+ strategy is a way to bring the priority of climate, biodiversity and carbon to the heart of our work with preferred fibres and materials.” Environmentalist Bill McKibben also insisted on the use of raw materials and said, “What we need to do is dramatically accelerate the use of preferred fibres+materials. We need a revolutionary change at this point.”
Adopting the Climate+ strategy makes climate a deliberate priority and organisational focus an impact area that requires immediate attention and for which one has many existing tools and resources. The ‘+’ in Climate+ allows Textile Exchange to prioritise climate while continuing to address other impact areas that are interconnected with the climate in most situations (for example, water, biodiversity, forests, soil and animal welfare).
Strong partnerships and collective approach are a must to achieve desired goals, especially in sustainability to accelerate the adoption of existing tools as well as enable disruptive innovation around new business models and zero-carbon materials. Some of the important partnerships made at the conference include:
Textile Exchange joined hands with TextileGenesis to pilot viscose and wool chain of custody using blockchain technology. The pilot is carried out in partnership with Lenzing, ArmedAngels and Schneider group on the viscose and wool supply chain.
It will explore the integration of Textile Exchange’s Central Database System (a chain custody platform jointly developed with GOTS) and TextileGenesis’ blockchain solution – a collaborative milestone towards maximising the value of digital traceability and physical verification for certified sustainable fibres and materials. “We’re excited to bring our technology into that forum – to help drive meaningful change and measurable impact,” said Amit Gautam, CEO & Founder, TextileGenesis.
To enhance the transparency and traceability of sustainable textile value chains, Textile Exchange and the International Trade Centre (ITC) collaborated. Both will support brands, manufacturers and factories in their efforts to improve the transparency and traceability of their sustainability efforts while at the same time supporting factories in adopting sustainable business practices.
This collaboration will be enabling factories to gain visibility in international supply chains and to facilitate the recognition of valid and credible factory certification claims, by exposing trusted information from Textile Exchange via the Sustainability Map, one of ITC’s global public good platforms. It will further eliminate any potential trust issues when sharing certified businesses’ data by establishing a semi-centralised certification distributed ledger, backed by blockchain or another distributed ledger solution.
Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), a leading resource-based manufacturing group, announced plans to invest US $ 200 million over the next 10 years in cellulosic textile fibre research and development. The target allocation for the investment is 70:20:10 in 3 areas, respectively: scaling up proven clean technology in fibre manufacturing, bringing pilot-scale production to commercial scale and R&D in emerging frontier solutions.
The conference witnessed many though-provoking discussions as speakers, experts were loud and clear. It was insisted that for many years, most companies focused only on return on investment but missed paying attention to return on impact. Therefore, it’s not only the supply chain that has to work on cutting emissions, even brands and retailers need to do their homework. The experts and speakers emphasised on the fact that all stakeholders of the industry must understand and accept that development without conservation is not sustainable and conservation without development is not viable.
It was the first time the conference introduced design to textile sustainability and there were workshops on the basics of sustainability and design.