M aster the Art of Sustainable Innovation’ is the avowed message for ITMA 2015 & rightly so. Humanity cannot make the Earth sick due to its greed. It is very easy to grasp the meaning of ethics in the sustainability exercise because textile manufacturing being one of the worst polluters on Earth needs to clean its act, by the R-routes -- Reuse, Reduce & Recycle. A few years ago, I came across t-shirts—good enough and soft to the touch—made out of recycled PET bottles. The main changes in the new draft of ISO 14001, released recently, are a greater focus on risk management and a shift towards improving environmental performance rather than the management system itself. Peter Gnägi, President, Swiss Textile Machinery Committee claims with conviction that the Swiss machinery industry has reduced CO2 emissions by 50 per cent and energy consumption by 40 per cent while increasing output in the last 24 years. A VDMA study has shown that the energy required to manufacture standard cotton t-shirts has been reduced by 28 per cent and the water consumption by 33 per cent over the past decade. Germany’s Blue Competence and Italy Acimit’s Green Label are true efforts in promoting sustainability on a larger scale. Ethics are okay, but do these innovations make economic or commercial sense? Yes, say the experts and the business community which have reaped immense benefits by producing textiles with less energy & inputs. Industry’s doubts hanging over the question that sustainability is good for people and the planet, but what can it do for the bottom line are clearing now. They have realised that the essence of all the best innovation is sustainability. While continuing to advance the important causes of quality and productivity, the industry must also ensure that textiles are made in a way that conserves energy, water and raw materials, without polluting the environment nor depleting the finite resources of the planet. It is obvious that things are changing, and India needs to reinvent the wheel of production as competition from newly-emerging countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam are getting more intense.
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