Handbook of Sustainable Textile Production By Marion I. Tobler-Rohr


Handbook of Sustainable Textile Production
By Marion I. Tobler-Rohr

Handbook of sustainable textile production


Author contact details ix
Woodhead Publishing Series in Textiles xi
Foreword xix
Preface xxiii
Acknowledgments xxix
1 Sustainable development (SD) as a goal in production, marketing and trade 1
1.1 A holistic concept 1
1.2 Theory behind sustainable development 6
1.3 Sustainability in the public sector 14
1.4 Sustainability in industry 22
1.5 Environmental management systems 27
1.6 Environmental labeling 32
1.7 References and further reading 42
2 The supply chain of textiles 45
2.1 Introduction 45
2.2 Natural fibers 46
2.3 Man-made fibers and filament and yarns 86
2.4 Energy 95
2.5 Yarn production 99
2.6 Fabric production 105
2.7 Chemical treatment 115
2.8 Manufacturing 127
2.9 Consumption, use and care 128
2.10 Disposal, reuse and recycling scenarios 133
2.11 References and further reading 141
3 Product specification function and textile process technology 150
3.1 Introduction 150
3.2 Quality and textile specifications 151
3.3 Specification of raw material and processes 151
3.4 Functionality and process technology 181
3.5 Inherent functionality of natural fibers 185
3.6 Designed functionality of man-made fibers 188
3.7 Spinning processes: functionality in two dimensions 191
3.8 Functionality in three dimensions through weaving and knitting processes 195
3.9 Chemical treatment for customer functionality 203
3.10 Functionality in product development 222
3.11 The origin of best available technology (BAT) 224
3.12 Best practice in cotton growing and ginning 228
3.13 Optimizing energy supply in textile processing 236
3.14 Best mill practice 237
3.15 Best available technology (BAT) in finishing 242
3.16 Recommendations for consumption and care 246
3.17 References and further reading 257
4 Life cycle assessment (LCA) and ecological key figures (EKF) 263
4.1 Introduction 263
4.2 Life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology 264
4.3 Eight case studies: scale and scope 271
4.4 Life cycle inventory (LCI) 283
4.5 Life cycle assessment (LCA) results 292
4.6 Life cycle assessment (LCA) sensitivity analysis 323
4.7 Costs 341
4.8 Introduction to ecological key figures (EKF) 347
4.9 Theory for ecological key figures (EKF) 352
4.10 Applied ecological key figures (EKF) in spinning and weaving 365
4.11 Discussion on ecological key figures (EKF) of textile products 371
4.12 References and further reading 378
5 Product development and marketing: management and communication 386
5.1 Introduction 386
5.2 The structure of the textile and apparel sector 387
5.3 The marketing environment of textiles and apparel 392
5.4 Global trade 407
5.5 Consumer preferences 416
5.6 Positioning of companies in the market 423
5.7 Market segments and brands 431
5.8 Product development and merchandising 442
5.9 Distribution and distribution channels 453
5.10 Sourcing 459
5.11 References and further reading 468
Index 471

What can be expected from a book dealing with sustainable textile production? Who will read such a manual and what are the aims of the book? To answer these questions the author will reveal her intentions in writing this book, which took about three years, and the development from the first idea up to the present work.

The motivation to write a book was initially related to the habilitation project Prof. U. Meyer offered me in the late 1990s. The idea of producing something physical, even useful to mankind, was very appealing to me.

Ever since working in the area of sustainable development in combination with textile technology, I found myself arguing slightly differently according to the person I was talking to. My partners were farmers, marketing managers, environmental scientists, the LCA community, textile engineers, people from authorities, and consumers in many parts of the world. So when the subject of the manual was outlined, the question was: who will be the readers of this book? I recognized that people working in textile companies were not familiar with working conditions in agriculture. Those who take sustainable development as a philosophy were helpless in finding solid practices in industrial processes. Scientists focused on methods, data and a functional unit, and underestimated the basic knowledge in the textile sector considerably. Cotton growers were not much interested in understanding what difficulties spinning companies had to deal with, as long as they were paid a reasonable price for their cotton. Companies complained about unfair competition through national environmental legislation. Consumers believed only natural fibers are good fibers, and economists wanted to have single figures or rules instead of time-consuming LCA results which nobody understood. Engineers feared for losses in innovation if they found themselves restricted to sustainable development. Finishers were sick of being accused of polluting the whole world and wanted consumers to be educated. Marketing managers believed sustainable development was not of any concern to them, and particularly not their responsibility. Our societies have moved towards convenience living in many parts of the world. Youngsters no longer know what material they are wearing, and so on. The misapprehensions could be continued. The list is by no means meant to blame the people involved: my own pathway in researching this field is paved with many of these prejudices. I was lucky to meet many people who were willing to make me acquainted of the real nature of things, even if I sometimes had to make up my mind between different viewpoints.

Talking about sustainable development, I was confronted with more different beliefs than there are definitions in the literature. Again and again I learnt how important communication in this field is. Even if I never intended to deal scientifically with the term, I had to define it for common understanding and to take a position.

The question I had to go over and over again was: how can I transfer my knowledge to almost all the people who might be interested in textiles and apparel in relation to sustainable development? Knowing that on the one hand I have to fulfill superior academic requirements, and on the other to make the results understandable to the majority of the non-academic people involved, I was searching for groups of interests and groups of issues. I found the answer after several trials in the structure presented here.

Chapter 1 is dedicated to sustainable development, a philosophy developed as a scientific issue but also as a belief of people and organizations to be applied in practice. Here the reader is given a brief overview on the multiple definitions and understanding of the term. It shows how theoretical concepts are translated and simplified into applications for authorities and the private sector. Some commonly used instruments are introduced on how to identify, measure, quantify, and communicate environmental aspects in our every day life and in science. Specific attention in this area is drawn to the textile sector.

When writing I had both environmentally oriented managers and consumers in mind, but also the academic requirements for the background of the studies. Producers and consumers are given information about environmental management systems and labeling systems, including environmental product declaration and eco design.

Basic information in the form of a survey on the textile chain is presented in Chapter 2. It starts with fiber production with its variety of raw material, followed by textile processing and technologies in yarn and fabric production. The greatest variation is found in fi nishing processing and technology, where many aspects of fashion, comfort and special properties are adapted. The manufacturing of apparel is directly oriented towards consumption, a process everybody is personally involved in. Interested consumers, authorities and also beginners in textile technology will fi nd simple descriptions of production stages and thereby get access to the complexity of the ‘textile world’. They will get an insight into processing and an understanding of interactions along the value-added chain. Environmentally oriented readers may fi nd themselves confronted with options and limitations in process technology. Especially the part dealing with consumption and disposal is intended to sensitize readers to changing their own behavior. For science this chapter represents the description of the system investigated. This overview does not claim to be complete, but to allow simple comparison, for example by means of indicators. For sustainable development in practice, indicators are sufficient to develop strategies for management or personal choices. The survey represents a summary of my lecture for environmental scientists and engineers at ETH based on my own research and on the seminars and workshops I organized in the area of textile technology and ecology, as well as on information from companies and from the literature. Some aspects are highlighted and are dealt with in more detail, because they represent basics or practical experience gained in studies (see research program), the results of which will be presented in later chapters of this book. These case studies will allow the reader not only to read the book from beginning to end, but also to switch from chapter to chapter to fi nd all information about a specific case study.

Chapter 3 is based on the previous chapter and indicates ways to specify quality and functions of textile products on the individual process steps. Based on approved quality parameters in agriculture, business and trade that are again highlighted and detailed in selected aspects, a simplified system for textile specification is elaborated. The purpose of this highly structured system is to optimize textile processing based on measured, quantified parameters of quality and through improved communication between business partners along the value-added chain. If textile specifications are applied in electronic data exchange, they represent a competition factor for the users, in superior process control and in faster product development. Part of the textile specification is also suited to providing detailed information for consumers to make appropriate choices. Hence this section may interest both producers and advanced consumers.

The aim of Chapter 3 is also to define functionality of products. Regarding the countless variations in apparel it is essential to adapt the functions of apparel to the desired use. To achieve an optimized match of processing and functionality is a major contribution to reducing textile waste and thereby adding to sustainable development. This part of the chapter provides information on how desired properties of a product can be achieved in specific processing and shows interactions among properties. Such knowledge is important for product development, which too often is driven by fashion only. It may become important also for readers who are especially interested in marketing (see Chapter 5).

The third part of Chapter 3 provides requirements for ‘best available technology’ (BAT), an activity of the EU for improved environmental protection. A BREF document has been published as mandate of the ‘Integrated Prevention and Pollution Control’ (IPPC) with the European Union, focusing mainly on fi nishing processes. BAT is completed in this part with recommendations for all processes in the value-added chain of textiles and apparel.

Basic environmental research such as life cycle assessment (LCA) of (almost) all succeeding processes is presented in Chapter 4 with some variations. This represents the fi rst and only assembly of process LCA, based on individual measurements and including all steps from cotton growing, spinning, weaving and fi nishing to consumption. The studies were carried out between 1996 and 2005 and the same software was used throughout for the calculations. The environmentally interested reader may be fascinated by such accurate results. Nevertheless, as different methods have been applied, comparison is complex and requires a careful evaluation of the uncertainty, which is added to the results in a classical scientific form. As the results are closely related to scale, scope and functionality, they are also interpreted with this background. There is no need to emphasize that this section is especially dedicated to science, even if the results are interesting to all readers, whom I encourage to read carefully.

When drafting ideas for this manual, I noted the need to develop a simplified method for application. This was set without having determined a vision of its nature. But from the beginning it was clear that full LCA was not the solution. Indicators seemed too vague and inventories were often confidential. Marketing strategies showed that existing methods had failed. My work as chairwoman of the COST action working group on LCA in textiles provided an insight into European research activities and company practices of 19 nations. So I took courage and developed the idea of ecological key figures. They are based on equations for individual processes along the value-added chain, taking into account main specific circumstances in production as well as basic environmental impact assessment. I believe future-oriented companies will prefer this instrument for quick calculation of environmental impacts. The scientific evaluation will state that it is a simplified method, not as accurate as LCA but based on available data from the textile industry.

In Chapter 5 a completely different viewpoint is introduced: the marketing perspective. As marketing is overwhelming in its economic importance, the consequences for sustainable development are indirectly influenced by its decisions. The push strategy coming from the value-added chain has almost disappeared in favor of a pull strategy from product development and marketing, establishing new rules by working in a global environment. During many visits and a sabbatical in the USA I had the opportunity to add the American perspectives of the large merchants to those of Swiss and European small and medium-sized companies. Also, markets and consumer behavior are compared in this chapter, allowing one to draw some predictions from one market to the other. This chapter is important for consumers and product development. It must be considered also for scale and scope definitions of scientific studies, if they should be based on reality.

Literature is cited at the end of every chapter. There are also some links to actual versions of documents cited in this book.

Marion I. Tobler-Rohr

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