How sustainable is your textile production?

07 Jul 2022

The textile industry is under increasing pressure to find alternatives to traditional production processes, to increase its sustainability, and reduce its environmental impact.

According to a McKinsey & Company report, created in partnership with Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), the fashion industry is responsible for about 4% of global GHG (greenhouse gas), a figure equivalent to the annual emissions of France, Germany, and the UK combined.

More than 70% come from the production, preparation, and processing of raw materials. Therefore, reducing waste in production, before transport and distribution, could lead to savings of 24 million tonnes of GHG emissions.

Goals around the planet, as well as people, prosperity, and peace, are the focus of the United Nations’ sustainability agenda, formulated and adopted by UN member states in 2015. However, to achieve meaningful change member nations need to take action beyond simply signing onto a framework.

This is where Global sustainability charity WRAP’s voluntary Textiles 2030 initiative is hoping to make a difference. It works with the Manchester Fashion Institute and leading businesses and partners across clothing, retail, supply, reuse and recycling including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Oxfam. Its aim is to accelerate the fashion and textile industry’s move towards circularity and system change by focusing on:

  • Sustainable clothing design and improving the durability of clothing. WRAP research shows that extending the life of clothes by nine extra months can reduce carbon, water, and waste footprints by around 4% to 10% each.
  • Providing guidance on fibre and fabric selection to improve sustainability, reduce environmental impact, and increase the usable life of clothing.
  • Encouraging reuse and recycling.
  • Building a circular rather than linear approach to textiles and apparel, something consumers, especially younger ones, are beginning to demand.
  • Researching consumer behaviour to help inform brands and retailers on how they can market more durable, sustainable and less resource intensive products.

It is a difficult task if you consider the evolution of consumer habits including fast fashion and e-commerce and the impact they have had on the entire production chain. Emphasis is now placed on the need to shorten production and delivery times, the reduction of production batches, the quest for uniqueness, and extreme customization of the individual garment.

One way to achieve greater oversight and control, plus fast, agile, and individualised production, is through reshoring.

Creating a local vibrant textile community can enable brands and retailers to have increased influence over members of its global supply chain. It can also reduce transportation across global supply chains.

Digital printing technologies can deliver easier to control, quick response capabilities that supports local manufacturing.

They can help reshape the production chain while delivering energy and raw material consumption savings.

After responding to a need for fast and cost effective textile sample creation digital Direct To Garment (DTG) printers have evolved to support the design and completion of printed fabrics in a way that ensures economic, logistic and production advantages. They print on demand just what is required, adapt or alter designs quickly, and eliminate long wait times by ensuring local production. They use less water and energy and require lower quantities of dyes and other chemicals used in the pre and post-treatment phases. 

This powerful combination makes digital production attractive to both printers and brands. Epson’s portfolio features a number of DTG systems that support the ability to rethink the way clothing and accessories are manufactured. They include the SureColor SC-F3000 developed for higher volume users who will benefit from its increased productivity with a low total cost of ownership. There is also the SureColor SC-F2100 that has long been the benchmark of reliable DTG printing.

To learn more about how to introduce a more sustainable approach textile production visit https://www.epson.co.uk/products/printers/large-format-printers/.