THE JOURNEY TO CARBON NEUTRALITY
CO2 Reducing Technologies and Measuring Tools
The »Why« is clear, the »When« is obvious, but HOW to start and what to do next, this is often the question when it comes to the expectation of climate neutrality for brands, products and materials in our industry.
It is no longer a secret the current consequences of climate change clearly show that we have long been in a climate crisis.
- With effects on the entire environment and almost all areas of life.
- To such an extent that our essential livelihoods are threatened.
- We are also stuck in a political, economic, and overall social crisis.
- The level of scientific knowledge is now so detailed that it is possible to calculate when and with what probability which foundations of life will
The Keeling curve
The Keeling curve is the simple and clear symbol of climate change. It shows the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Only when this curve falls again can we say that we will manage to limit global warming.
»It is up to us, humans, to make it happen.
With or without us – on this planet.«
Scientists have made recommendations and outlined and quantified borderline situations that must be avoided as far as possible, because then uncontrollable and irreversible, mutually accelerating processes will take place that have never existed in such a form during the earth‘s history.
The greenhouse effect and the additional greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon, with water vapor having the greatest impact.
Without the greenhouse effect, the planet would be 33° C colder and life as we know it would not be possible. But CO2 and other greenhouse gases resulting from human activities amplify the greenhouse effect and throw the climate off balance. This has many consequences for the planet. A popular example being the melting of the polar ice caps.
This means that next to air temperature increase the ocean will store a significant amount of energy, polar ice will melt, the sea level will rise, the Gulf Stream will change, weather will be more extreme with heavy rain falls and extreme dry periods, tornados, and desertification. This will change life on earth.
Climate change is making the weather more extreme, not just „warmer“
»Every kilogram of CO2 that we are emitting at the present day will eventually be responsible for melting between 10 and 20 kg of glacier. [...]«1
Ben Marzeion, Universität Bremen
This would mean, after a 100-kilometer journey with a modern personal car, almost a quarter ton of glacier ice is gone.
1 Calculation adapted to more modern car: Calculation basis: A liter of petrol corresponds to 2,320 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2). One liter of diesel has 2,650 grams of CO2, one liter of LPG has 1,790 grams of CO2, and one kilogram of natural gas (CNG) has 1,630 grams of CO2. Consumption 7 liters / 100 km7 x 2320 / 100 = 162.5 g CO2 / km
Photo by Danting Zhu; source: unsplash.com/photos/TFSu8udP5dw
As Greta Thunberg aptly said:
»This crisis is a matter of life or non-life for us.
There is no gray area.«
Coming back to the »WHY«
As all industries, also the textile industry is responsible for a huge proportion of CO2 emissions into the environment. On the other hand, technical innovations in our industry are helping to reduce the CO2 emission for a diverse range of industries on a global scale.
The textile and apparel industry is one of the major consumer goods industries worldwide. A large amount of global CO2 emissions are attributed to the activities of our industry. Figures concerning this matter assume orders of magnitude in terms of total transport and mobility volumes. If one wishes to examine the resulting emissions across all stages of the value chain, it is worth looking beyond raw materials, production, logistics and trade. Consumer behavior can also influence emissions: According to the »Fashion on Climate« report published by the Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey at the end of August 2020, even greater leverage lies in the products themselves: 61 percent of reductions in emissions could be achieved through CO2 reductions in material production and processing, by minimizing production and manufacturing waste, and in the manufacturing of garments. By 2030, that would account for around 1 billion tons annually. And last but not least, consumer behavior is also a factor that impacts the fashion industry’s climate footprint. If even more attention is paid to sustainable clothing, and if it is reused and worn longer, this can lead to a reduction in emissions of up to 347 million tons, according to the report.
More and more businesses in the textile and apparel industry as well as their manufacturers and suppliers are aware of this. This is why more and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years.
PERFORMANCE DAYS Munich and Functional Fabric Fair by PERFORMANCE DAYS will accompany the industry intensively over the next year on its path to climate neutrality with the Focus Topic:
The Journey to Carbon Neutrality –
CO2 Reducing Technologies and Measuring Tools
With targeted answers to the question, »How can we cut down on CO2 emissions?« as part of its roadmap over the next three fairs. The Focus Topic »The Journey to Carbon Neutrality« will therefore highlight materials and fibers that provide solutions on how to produce and reprocess materials in the future in a climate-friendly manner.
Like any journey, this one starts with recognizing one’s current position and defining the target position. In order to do this, the first step is to measure and analyze the CO2 emissions generated at the company site and any outsourced processing sites. Only what we are aware of can be changed or managed.
By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.
The industry will be in a position to follow this journey actively: Exhibitors will provide more and more materials that show a CO2 footprint. Designers, buyers and product managers will have access to information and inspiration on current alternatives.
Step 1, April 2022
The focus of the this fair is about CO2 reducing technologies and how to measure the carbon footprint of a product.
Step 2, Oct / Nov 2022
The entire Focus Topic category will exclusively show products which indicate the CO2 emissions caused during production, helping to create more transparency and comparability in the industry.
Step 3, April 2023
Our vision is to be able to show the amount of CO2 each and every product in the PERFORMANCE FORUM emits. Moreover, we will introduce solutions on how to offset and further reduce the amount of CO2 which is released during the production of materials.
What to expect this season?
In the »Focus Topic« category, only material and fiber manufacturers who can demonstrate a reduced carbon footprint can participate. The Performance Jury wished to know which strategies were used in production to reduce CO2 emissions, which technologies contributed and how these were measured. Factors considered in the evaluation include energy-saving steps, resource conservation, the use of sustainable materials, local production, CO2 offsetting in general, along with further exciting technologies. Such approaches are made visible at the PERFORMANCE FORUM with new, additional PERFORMANCE CODES such as »CO2-neutral« and »CO2-reduced«.
In general, four different categories that guarantee lower CO2 emissions when applied can be distinguished: Synthetic fibers with variants made from recycled polyester, polyamide or polypropylene. Natural fibers such as Tencel, hemp, Naia spun fiber or recycled natural fiber variants. All fibers that refrain from the use of a chemical dyeing process, instead being spun dyed or with the use of dope dyed yarn. The fourth group is defined by those fibers that combine several variants – i.e. are dyed or recycled in an energy-saving manner or use natural fibers.
The traceability of ecological and social manufacturing conditions is becoming increasingly important. Only by being aware of the relevant parameters can opportunities be recognized and areas of action identified. On this basis, measures can be prioritized and controlled in a targeted manner.
For most businesses in the apparel branch, the potential for improving the CO2 emissions they »cause« lies both at the company’s headquarters and in the processes of the manufacturing suppliers.
From design, material selection, product lifecycles, manufacturing locations, packaging, manufacturing timelines and associated transportation, to ancillary services such as repair options and new business models such as apparel or footwear rentals, all of this is decided at corporate headquarters and impacts manufacturing operations, the phase of use of the product for the customer and the products potential for circular economy.
In order to set out and work on the potential of CO2 reduction in these areas, it requires an even deeper screening of the technical, ecological and social parameters and the cooperation of the entire branch, throughout the value chain as well as in the cooperation of companies competing on the market, retailers and consumers.
All that we can measure and label transparently will allow for greater management and enhancement.
In order to convey the opportunities to contribute to a reduction of CO2 emissions to all partners, we need transparent and fact-based communication and genuine cooperation throughout the industry.
Cooperation in achieving global goals and whether we as humans can continue to live on this planet lies in our hands. The more hands that reach out, the more stable and
effective or actions can be.
The priorities arising from the existing situation are first of all to Measure, analyze and reduce CO2 emissions.
These are the greatest tools in reaching the international climate goals. The second step is to offset emissions that cannot be avoided. However, massive reduction must come before the offsetting of unavoidable CO2 emissions.
EcoLactam® by FIBRANT
A successful example of how to lower the carbon footprint of materials is EcoLactam® by FIBRANT (booth G14). EcoLactam® is the low carbon footprint precursor (caprolactam) to produce Nylon yarns. EcoLactam® has a footprint up to 70 % lower compared to the global industry average for producing traditional caprolactam. Given the relative high share caprolactam has (> 50 %) in the total Cradle2Garment footprint, EcoLactam® is a good example how FIBRANT can contribute to significantly reduce the footprint of your Nylon based products.
sponsored content by FIBRANT
Post-industrial / pre-consumer Nylon
Probably the most used recycled Nylon type present.
Post-industrial / pre-consumer recycled material is diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process. Excluded is re-utilization of materials such as rework, regrind or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it14.
The Textile Exchange Global Recycled Standard Implementation Manual 4.2 includes several examples of what can be claimed as post-industrial / pre-consumer material and what not – such as regrinds15.
Regrinds are shredded and / or granulated recover-ed plastics material in the form of a free-flowing material16. The term »regrind« is frequently used to describe plastics material in the form of scrap generated in a plastics processing operation and re-used in-house17.
Examples for regrinds
- Spinning wastage, generated in the yarn extruding process
- Runners, used in the injection molding process
Simply explained, regrinds can be compared to cookie backing: the remaining dough after cookie cutting is being knead and rolled out again and used up until no leftover is present.
Users of post-industrial / pre-consumer recycled materials should make sure that regrinds are excluded – not only from a legal perspective as described, but also from an economic and ecological perspective. If the demand of those regrinds increases, more virgin Nylon might be produced and the holistic efficiency in the process decreases.
Due to the fact, that post-industrial / pre-consumer Nylon feed-stock is often not contaminated with other materials, the mechanical recycling is the traditional technology.
Higg and Climate Partner
Higg Product Design Tools help teams build more sustainable products
Higg is a technology platform that helps consumer goods businesses take responsibility for their entire impact across the value chain – from materials to products, from factories to stores, from carbon emissions to working conditions. Within our suite of tools, Higg Product Design Tools are used by hundreds of leading brands to comprehensively calculate a product’s environmental footprint, including its carbon impact, water use, and waste. Whether you’re an apparel designer or sustainability analyst, Higg’s tools will help you create more sustainable products from the onset, understand the footprint of your existing collections, and help you more accurately report impact.
The Product Design Tools, consisting of Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and Higg Product Module (PM) were designed to deliver deep material and product insights, from raw material selection to a product’s end of use. As the platform most used by the apparel industry to manage performance improvement, Higg enables brands, retailers, and manufacturers to gather impact data through a suite of tools and solutions that provide comprehensive value chain insights.
We also believe that performance improvement should be easier to manage, so these tools are designed to work seamlessly alongside your existing processes. Insights provided by Higg integrate into your company’s internal product life-cycle management system, and can even be shared directly with your key stakeholders. Your company can bring Higg insights into its everyday systems to create better products and apply the latest sustainability data to your decision-making process.
How the Higg MSI helps you select more sustainable materials
A database featuring millions of materials, the MSI uses peer-reviewed life-cycle assessment data to quantify the environmental impacts of materials, taking into account the extraction or production of raw materials, manufacturing, and preparation for assembly.
The MSI measures materials impact is measured in five areas:
- Global warming potential
- Nutrient pollution in water (eutrophication)
- Water scarcity
- Abiotic resource depletion, use of fossil fuels
By using the MSI, designers and product developers are tapping into the largest library of materials impact data available, and can use this information to choose materials with better sustainability performance.
The MSI is regularly updated to feature the latest available materials data, but the tool is only as strong as the data contributions it receives from the textile community. Brands and manufacturers are encouraged to submit their own materials production data, helping the industry uniformly understand material impacts.
Incorporating sustainability into product design with the Higg Product Module
Brands and retailers are encouraged to take their MSI data a step further and use the Higg Product Module to evaluate a finished product’s environmental impact. This tool helps brands understand the impact of a fully assembled garment – for example, the PM can quantify the environmental impact of two jackets made with different types of cotton and recycled zippers, or shoes made of recycled polyester compared to virgin polyester.
The Product Module takes into account the unique components of a product, the specific amounts of each material used, and the impacts from finished goods processing. Users can measure a product’s impact across the same impact categories as the MSI, and also report on additional metrics:
- Biogenic carbon content
- Water consumption
Read recent coverage of the Product Module from Greenbiz.
Higg Product Design Tools help brands work to net-zero
Brands across the globe are using Higg’s Product Design Tools to accurately measure the impact of thousands of products already. Cycling apparel company Pearl iZumi uses Higg Product Design Tools to calculate a product’s carbon footprint in kilograms of CO2, and equates that to the number of miles a customer would have to ride to offset that item’s emissions. Pearl iZumi calls this a product’s »Pedal to Zero« number, and customers will start seeing this information on a variety of products starting with the company’s Spring 2022 collection. The company explains this as the first apparel line designed to be ridden out of existence. Read more customer success stories here.
As our industry shifts to embrace transparency and disclose impact, it's important to track impact performance from the company level all the way to a single product. New regulations will also start to formally require brands and retailers to disclose impact, and brands should consider how to prepare for this shift. Higg is here to help prepare your business by making data collection and aggregation easier across the value chain. Learn more about the Higg platform here.
We are collaborating with one of the most competent global partners in order to avoid the emergence of various non-comparable standards. With the large amounts of data that can be contributed to the Higg MSI via PERFORMANCE DAYS, we all contribute in making it that little bit better, more accurate and more complete.
Climate Partner is a leading solution provider for climate action: They combine individual consulting with a range of cloud-based software tools. They help calculate carbon emissions, establish emission reduction strategies and offset residual emissions. This renders products and companies carbon neutral. They develop and offer carbon offset projects in different regions and with different technologies and standards. Particularly important are the additional social benefits of the projects. These are geared towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
ClimatePartner was founded in Munich in 2006. Today, with local teams across Europe and in the USA, they assist more than 5,000 companies in 60+ countries to work towards a low carbon economy.
A holistic climate action strategy consists of 5 steps
For all active businesses in our branch, material manufacturers, garment makers, brands and retailers, measuring and reducing CO2 emissions is THE opportunity to meet the demands of stakeholders. Investors, legislators, NGO’s and consumers are eager for a response in reducing global warming.
Climate change is humankind‘s most urgent challenge
Get everyone on board!
- Involving employees in documenting the company’s CO2 footprint, individual departments or process stages
- Integration of retailers
- Informing consumers via the company website, marketing and social media
- Information on the product
Companies that actively contribute to these goals will continue to attract increasing attention in the years ahead with authentic measures to
actively contribute in shaping the future of the entrepreneur and our planet.
If measures implemented by companies are communicated transparently and authentically, this facilitates consumers and business partners in
making responsible purchasing decisions.
Some regulations will be introduced over the next few years in terms of communication in order to combat greenwashing. The EU Green Deal will ensure increased requirements for communication in the entire EU, keep an eye on such issues!
The textile industry has always been a pioneer in the economical and social developments over the past 200 years. Let us once again take a pioneering role in combating climate change, the time is now!
Earth overshoot day, the day of the year where we have already consumed the amount of resources within the year which are naturally renewed within 365 days, is currently sometime in August. This means that from that day onwards we are living on and consuming resources that are not regenerating within that year.
Let’s work together to ensure that „Earth Overshoot Day” falls at Christmas again and eventually falls off the calendar altogether!
Inspiring examples from individual companies will be closely monitored and supported in society.
The opportunities for companies and manufacturers are as diverse as they are complex, and not every measure is suited to every company.
However, most measures bear a relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
There are many areas to improve in day-to-day business, which are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. All areas of life and business do have an influence on climate action.
As mentioned in the 6th IPCC Report, high confidence and positive synergies are for example seen in the following areas:
Bio energy, urban green and blue infrastructure, change in building structure and material change, shift to public transport and e-transport and circular material flows.
Integrating sectors, strategies, and innovation in urban systems, change in construction materials, construction methods in buildings as well as all circular economy topics in all industries.
For more details check the report at ipcc.ch
The PERFORMANCE FORUM Focus Topic category exclusively shows products that indicate the CO2 emissions caused during production, helping to create more transparency and comparability in the industry.
Our goal for spring/summer 2023 is to be able to show the amount of CO2 each and every product in the PERFORMANCE FORUM emits. Moreover, we will introduce solutions on how to offset and further reduce the amount of CO2 released during the production of materials!
We look forward to this common journey with all of you into climate neutrality!
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© 2022 Anna Rodewald, GreenroomVoice
© 2022 Astrid Schlüchter, Independent Journalist
PERFORMANCE DAYS® functional fabric fair
Produced by Design & Development GmbH Textile Consult