Dr. Wolfgang Anton Schumann (Source: STCI)
bluesign technologies and the alliance of leading chemical companies Sustainable Chemistry for the Textile Industry (SCTI) have teamed up to develop a sustainable chemistry index that will provide a standard communication guide for chemical suppliers, manufacturers, brands, and NGOs.
This first-of-its-kind index is intended to inspire change in the industry. Can you explain what this sustainable chemistry index should be about?
The textile and apparel industry has made a lot of good progress in recent years, and the time is now right for more companies to go beyond current regulations and voluntary standards.
The bluesign System already encompasses a holistic view by requiring chemicals to meet criteria regarding environmental performance, occupational health and safety, and product stewardship. The new sustainable chemistry index will go even further to encompass circularity, greenhouse gas emissions, raw materials sourcing, downstream use and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
The sustainable chemistry index will provide a clear rating for each substance to help guide the industry towards a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future.
How did this partnership with bluesign come about?
SCTI has been working over the past couple of years to develop a global sustainability standard for textile chemicals. As the idea evolved, we saw that it would be best that it be delivered as an independent tool. As an independent chemical solutions provider and respected sustainability leader, bluesign was the ideal partner to bring the index to life.
What is the goal to be achieved with the sustainable chemistry index?
The goal of the sustainable chemistry index is to drive transformational change in the textile industry. And it will do this by providing brands and retailers and their manufacturing partners with a professional science-based search engine to make more informed decisions regarding the selection of sustainable chemicals, and ultimately produce more sustainable articles whilst minimizing the overall environmental impact.
What are the biggest challenges for the textile chemistry industry in times of pandemic and war in Europe?
Like many other industries, the textile industry has been impacted by global supply chain disruption and by rising raw material costs and energy prices. We are seeing increased emphasis on domestic markets and brands increasingly looking into nearshoring and reshoring and wanting to diversify their sourcing bases. At the same time, the pandemic has brought about an increased focus on business and environmental sustainability.
Where are we on the road to a truly sustainable textile industry in Europe? Is there some kind of timetable for when and how the European textile industry will be clean, safe and climate neutral (without climate compensation)?
Sustainability is a holistic concept—it’s about looking at the whole lifecycle of textile products and enhancing the positive impacts on environment, economy and society. Sustainable chemicals are a key part of this, and we are already making good progress. Initiatives like bluesign and SCTI are making change possible, but there’s still so much to do. Having a single, unified industry standard for sustainability will go a long way to making it simpler for companies to do good. How do you see the role of the industry here, and what is the role of the consumer?
Consumers are much more aware of environmental matters today. They want to know more than what's in the products. They want detailed insights regarding where the brand sourced their materials, how the product was made, what values guided the production process, and so on.
For mills and brands that want to capture market share, this means it is now necessary to produce better products at better prices with reduced environmental impact. Chemical companies have a role to play in developing innovative solutions that make this possible. So, we must continue to invest in R&D, and we must work together while ensuring that our IP is protected – which is what the sustainable chemistry index helps us to do.
bluesign = registered trademark
SCTI = trademarkAbout SCTI
Launched in October 2020, Sustainable Chemistry for the Textile Industry (SCTI) is an alliance of leading chemical companies that strives to empower the textile and leather industries to apply sustainable, state- of-the-art chemistry solutions that protect factory workers, local communities, consumers and the environment. It has 7 founding members: Archroma, CHT Group, Huntsman, Kyung-In Synthetic Corp. (KISCO), Pulcra Chemicals, Rudolf Group and Tanatex Chemicals.
The interview was conducted by Mechthild Maas, editor of TextileTechnology, with Dr. Wolfgang Anton Schumann, Chairman of Sustainable Chemistry for the Textile Industry (SCTI) and Managing Director of Rudolf GmbH, Geretsried/Germany.