Reducing water and chemicals – new opportunity for suppliers

10/04/2013 / Kaj

It is no surprise that we see some Swedish Consumer Market giants acting more responsible in their markets. With a step by step approach, both IKEA and H&M, have positively moved their positions in the field of CSR. IKEA, based on its family values, developed its business strategy together with the values from the Natural Step Foundation already 1990. H&M with a strong family owner influence has been taken steps in all field of Sustainability. The latest step, to positioning H&M Conscious work for a more sustainable fashion future can bring a stronger communication voice to the consumer.

With their actions, the societies in developing countries will have a hope to gain better conditions in their working life and a better living standard. But, will government in these countries meet up with rules that will bring in an acceptable social standard that welfare states are built on? A challenge that will need a more intensive dialogue between business and government in developing countries.

But, lets focus on some new promising steps for both the consumer giants and its suppliers. And why not involve the stakeholders around the corporations. Government, Ngo:s and shareholders….

The Ikea Green Tech company announced the 8th of April that it has invested in DyeCoo Textile Systems, a Dutch company that has developed the first commercially available waterless dyeing technology. Using recycled carbon dioxide (CO2), the technology avoids the large amount of water and chemicals used in traditional dyeing processes.

In a press release IKEA said – Still, the biggest climate impact along our value chain happens outside of our operations. That’s why we also want to use our influence to encourage action on climate. This includes working with suppliers, fabric mills and transport providers in a range of voluntary programmes and collaborative initiatives to improve their energy efficiency and overall environmental performance. It also includes inspiring conscious garment care amongst customers.

“DyeCoo’s waterless dyeing technology is a truly innovative system that could bring real environmental and costs benefits for the textile industry by reducing water and chemical use. Through the partnership, IKEA will help to speed up the development and availability of the technology,” says Christian Ehrenborg, Managing Director, IKEA GreenTech AB

The investment will support the delivery of the IKEA Group Sustainability Strategy, People & Planet Positive, which includes challenging commitments for IKEA to make its products, operations and supply chain more sustainable. In the supply chain, IKEA is committed to reaching 100 percent compliance with its suppliers.

The significant potential of the waterless dyeing process has also been recognised by the world’s leading apparel and footwear brand, NIKE, Inc. which invested in DyeCoo in 2012. Nike’s strategic partnerships group worked closely with IKEA GreenTech throughout the investment process.

- This is very promising. We are working hard to implement new technology solutions that bring down both water use and chemicals in all our operations and in the supply chain, said Helene Helmersson, Head of H&M Sustainability, when I spoked to her. She was also aware about the work in both Nike and Ikea around this issues and said, –  this brings new stronger opportunities for us who work with textiles.

The textile industry is one of the largest consumers of water and most of the world’s textile suppliers are located in Asia. The scale of the industry’s activity in the region can put pressure on the availability of clean water and contribute to environmental pollution in the discharges from manufacturing processes. By removing the need to use water in the dyeing process and eliminating the risk of effluent discharge, a known environmental hazard, the DyeCoo system could bring significant benefits to the region.

“IKEA strives to have a positive impact on people and the planet. By helping to scale the DyeCoo system for use with larger production volumes, we could help to make a big difference for the environment as well as workers and communities around textile facilities,” says Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group

Nike’s VP of Sustainable Business & Innovation, Hannah Jones, welcomed IKEA as a partner in DyeCoo Textile Systems.

“IKEA’s decision to invest in this technology signals an exciting step in cross-industry collaborationA key objective for Nike, when investing in DyeCoo, was to scale the technology to benefit consumers, business and the environment. We’re delighted IKEA shares a similar objective to accelerate development of more sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.”

The first range of machines developed and manufactured by DyeCoo are for waterless dyeing of polyester fabric. As well as helping to scale the processes for dyeing polyester, the partnership with IKEA will speed up the development of processes and machines for dyeing cotton.

This is all steps in the right direction, but not the last challenge, when we look at the perspective with the needs of 1,5 planets to provide resources for todays population…..

Thats why we need more responsible business leader that bring solutions in front of the governments and NGO:s that say – yes we can –  Are you prepared to work together!

Kaj Embrén

 

 

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