Sustainability

World Textile Summit 2015

Market leaders discuss sustainable textiles

The World Textile Summit is one of the most important international events for leading companies in the textile sector. Held in Milan, at the same location as ITMA 2015, the world’s most prestigious trade fair for technology in the textiles industry, its aim was to get experts in the sector talking about issues relating to the sustainability of the textile chain, such as saving water and energy or how the use of materials from sustainable sources could help add value to businesses at all levels of the production chain.

The event was designed to prompt decision makers in formulating their business strategies. Specifically, it analysed the role of sustainability in relation to the ability to differentiate brands and companies, to produce profitable businesses and to drive investment decisions to develop new products and acquire and retain new customers.

Moderated by the expert Nadine Dereza, the meeting opened with a speech from Mary Porter Peschka, Director of Advisory Services at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank. Porter Peschka explained how the IFC, which operates as the commercial arm of the World Bank, helps small and medium-sized businesses develop by providing funding. In addition, its role also includes advising companies and governments on how to improve sustainability.
She was followed by Paula Oliveira, a Director at Interbrand, who explained how sustainability can provide a market advantage in differentiating one's brand.
Vivek Tandon, Co-founder of the Aloe Group, specialising in sustainable investment with an interest in the fibres sector, gave his contribution from the investor’s perspective.
This was followed by speeches delivered by representatives of leading companies in the production of sustainable textiles: Maurizio Ribotti, Head of Marketing and Communications at Canepa S.p.A. (Italy), Roger Yeah, President of Everest Textile Co. Ltd. (Taiwan), and Ajay Sardana, Vice-President of the Aditya Birla Group (India), who talked about the experience of their particular companies in the field of “green” technology.

Next came an advance presentation of an important report carried out by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), University of Cambridge, which investigated the “dependency” on natural resources and the impact of the production of cotton and its associated risks. The study was conducted in partnership with a number of major companies including Olam International, Kering, C&A and Asda, and its results, presented at the summit by the Programme Manager Gemma Cranston and Kering’s Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation, Helen Crowley, will be published in late 2015.
Christian Dietrich, Director of Systain Consulting, described the reaction of suppliers to an initiative introduced by a large-scale retail group to reduce CO2 production. Helga Vanthournout, Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co., considered how recycling products at the final stage in their life cycle could add value to business. Staying with materials, Linda Keppinger, Global Materials Director at Nike Inc., spoke about environmental sustainability trends in product development. In conclusion, Burak Tun, Director of Sales at Menderes Tekstil (Turkey), and Alan Garosi, Global Marketing Manager at Fulgar (Italy), presented a brief case study focusing on the experiences of their companies; they were then joined by Peter Waeber, from Bluesign Technologies, for an open discussion of strategic choices in the selection of materials.

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Published on 16 November 2015

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