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Editorial: Sustainability in the textile and apparel supply chain starts with raw materials
published in Issue 182, November 2016
Efforts to make the textile and apparel supply chain more environmentally sustainable have tended to focus on production processes rather than raw materials. However, there have been a few notable exceptions. The Austrian company Lenzing has a mission to "turn CO2 and sunlight into high value fibres" and has adopted a closed cycle or bio-refinery concept by recovering recyclable materials in wood pulp processes and Tencel lyocell fibre production. The Italian spinner Filpucci has introduced two yarns produced from high value baby camel, cashmere and extra-fine merino wool by "re-engineering" factory floor waste using the Re.Verso recycling process, resulting in large savings in energy, water and CO2 emissions. E.Miroglio has introduced a new blend called Rewoolife which is made from Newlife polyester derived from post-consumer PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and shrink resistant fine merino wool obtained from sheep which have not been subjected to mulesing. Filmar is taking part in a five-year Cottonforlife Initiative in Egypt which is designed to support cotton growing and the provision of schools and facilities for training farmers in ecologically sound cotton production methods. Meanwhile, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is using the Better Cotton Standard System to help farmers "optimise inputs, and ensure that they respect the environmental and social norms of modern farming". The BCI aims to overcome several challenges, including the use of child labour, habitat loss, smallholder poverty, soil depletion, synthetic fertiliser and pesticide usage, and water management. By 2020 Better Cotton is expected to account for 30% of global cotton production whereas cotton which complies with other sustainability standards such as Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Fairtrade and organic cotton is expected to account for only 5%.
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