Sustainability and Circularity - The New Challenges for the Textile Value Chain

31st January 2024,’Hotel- The Lalit, Mumbai’

The Textile Association (India), Mumbai Unit organized International Conference on “Sustainability and Circularity – The New Challenges for the Textile Value Chain” on Wednesday, 31st January 2024 at Hotel the Lalit, Mumbai. The Conference received overwhelming response with 275 delegates in attendance. The theme of Conference, topics, presentations, and speakers were highly appreciated by one and all. Some of the highlights of the conference are described as under:

Mr. V. C. Gupte, Chairman, TAI, Mumbai Unit and Convener of the Conference welcomed Guest of Honour, Ms. Seema Srivastava, Executive Director, India ITME Society, Keynote Speaker, Dr. Naresh Tyagi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited, Awardees, Speakers, Press, Media, and delegates. Mr. Gupte welcomed and congratulated two awardees Dr. Sharad Kumar Saraf for The Lifetime Achievement Award and Mr. Rajkumar Agarwal for The Industrial Excellence Award. Mr. Gupte explained what is circularity and circularity model, in which all materials are viewed as a resource, there is no waste. A circular textiles system will require solutions that would enable us to recycle textiles back into textiles without degrading quality. He explained when a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible, The circular economy involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value. This is Circular Economy which is departure from the current model of which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. However, it is now realised to relook at this model for better sustainability of the planet Earth.

He mentioned that TAI, Mumbai Unit has always selected contemporary & innovative topics in all the conferences organized and presentations by high profile speakers. This conference is also no exception to the set tradition especially the theme being of international importance.

Mr. Rajiv Ranjan, President, TAI, Mumbai Unit in his Presidential Address started with the UN definition that a sustainable development meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Since the textile industry was very polluting in nature and as per estimate more than five per cent of total Green House Gas (GHG) emission was due to this industry, the 3R principle of Reduce, Recycle and Reuse was never more valid. In its efforts towards sustainability, it was extremely important for the textile industry to look at steps to conserve resources, optimise efficiencies across the manufacturing process and minimise waste at every stage. If a proper mechanism was adopted by the industry to work on collection for recycle and reuse, then remarkable changes could be brought to nurture sustainable development. ESG (Environment, Corporate and Social Governance) and sustainability were essential principles that organizations must adopt to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. These measures not only benefit the environment and the society, but they also contribute to the company’s long term profitability and success.

Mr. G. V. Aras, The Conference Chairman and Trustee, TAI, Mumbai Unit briefed about the details of the Conference, including topics and speakers. He said every attempt has been made to address the theme from the perspectives of organized industry and MSMEs apart from international perspectives. Sustainable development with circularity is emphasized by the speakers from different angles so that a holographic picture can be conceived at the end of the conference. He reiterated that sustainability and circularity are the most important aspects of manufacturing for reducing environmental impact. While sustainability is the goal, circularity is a milestone that results to achieve sustainable objectives. In circularity model, all materials are viewed as resources and as such there is no waste. A circular textile system requires solutions that would enable us to recycle textiles back into textiles without degrading quality.

Dr. Naresh Tyagi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited in his Keynote address described the sustainability and various steps involved in establishing the goals set towards circularity. He emphasized that the holistic approach to develop strategies to achieve the goals set and collate with national and global perspectives. He described the various facets of sustainability and in turn strategies developed through circularity in line with sustainable development goals set by UNO as India is a signatory for the seventeen sustainable goals. With his rich experience in sustainability solutions at Birla Cellulose, he unfolded in a lucid way the importance of the subject and relevance to textile and clothing industry. His keynote address set the pace of the theme of the conference rolling to extend the deliberations on various other aspects of sustainability and circularity.

Honouring the best in class under the Textile and Trade Family Tree

TAI Mumbai Unit takes it as privilege to honor the distinguished achievers in the textile trade and industry every year. As a tradition, the following luminaries were honored during the international conference.

 a) The Lifetime Achievement Award

The Textile Association (India), Mumbai Unit has set a precedent by felicitating the textile professionals/industrialists for their outstanding contribution to the textile industry. In this Conference, the TAI, Mumbai Unit felicitated Dr. Sharad Kumar Saraf, Chairman and Managing Director, Technocraft Group with “The Lifetime Achievement Award” for his Contribution and Services to the Textile & clothing Industry. In his remarks, the awardee Dr. Saraf highlighted the key features of sustainability based on his rich experience in the industry and trade.

b) The Industrial Excellence Award

TAI, Mumbai Unit also felicitated Mr. Rajkumar Agarwal, Managing Director, SVG Fashions Ltd. with “The Industrial Excellence Award” for his contribution in the field of textile and clothing industry. Mr. Rajkumar in his remarks, emphasized the role of the textile and clothing sector in the light of international scenario.

Ms. Seema Srivastava, Executive Director, India ITME Society who was the Guest of Honor addressed the delegates. She described the importance of the theme of the conference regarding holistic approach for the development of the textile and clothing sector. She highlighted the synergy of machinery development and promotion in achieving the sustainability and circularity. She complimented the TAI, Mumbai Unit for choice of the topic and organizing the international conference as it is an important topic of current interest to the textile trade and industry.

Knowledge Sharing and Informative technical sessions

The international conference organized with two technical sessions and one panel discussion. A summary of the proceedings is described below under the head of the name of the eminent speakers:

1. Mr. Ullhas Nimkar, Chairman, NimkarTek Technical Services Pvt. Ltd.  presented a paper on “Understanding Sustainability and Circularity in the Textile Value Chain”. With his vast exposure to national and international ecosystem in the context of the theme of the conference, he described in lucid terms the significance of circularity and sustainability in textile value chain. He took various cases in the recycling of waste and development of sustainable fibres which are beneficial to the ecology and environment management.

2. Mr. Mayank Mody, Director, Mody Linen Fibre Pvt. Ltd; and Dr. G. S. Nadiger, General Secretary, Non-Conventional Fibres Association made the presentation on “Sustainability in Textile Fibres”. Presentation highlighted the role of non- conventional fibres as supplementary raw material base to be harnessed to address some of the key aspects of circularity and sustainability. Keeping the potential of these fibres, the use of them as an additional source of raw material to supplement the needs of the textile industry is an important step in sustainable development. The nonconventional fibres originate from three sources: namely plant, animal, and manmade routes. However, the presentation focused on the fibres from plant origin. Authors emphasized the developmental activities taken up jointly by Nonconventional Fibre Association (NCFA) and Mody Linen Pvt Ltd. Continuing the presentation, advantages of fibres such as banana, sisal, flax, bamboo, hemp, and screw pine fibres. Among the animal fibres, it was listed that the wild silks such as Eri, Muga and Taser along with pashmina are very important from Indian context. 

3. Mr. Shiladitya K. Joshi, Deputy General Manager – Product & Marketing, Truetzschler India Private Limited, made the presentation on “Truetzschler’s Approach towards Sustainability”. As one of the leading machinery manufacturers globally, presentation focused on machineries required for recycling of the textile/fibres to address circularity. He informed the appropriate machines and technology available for the recycling of different types of reclaimed textiles towards sustainability.

 4. Mr. Prashant M. Pote, Customer Relations Management Manager, India, bluesign technologies ag made the presentation on “bluesign ® Solutions for Sustainability & Circularity”. The speaker discussed the scope of the ecolabel “Bluesign” with four tiers of achieving the sustainability. The tiers included people (Consumer Safety and Occupational Safety); Environment (Water Emission, Air Emission, Wast & Soil); Resources (Energy, Water, Chemicals, Raw Materials including bench Marking) and Blue Sign System (Risk minimization, Reduction of impacts, Protection of people and environment & Resource productivity). In achieving the approval of ‘bluesign’ labelling, role of testing in the entire lifecycle process as the important step was highlighted in establishing the ecofriendly features of the process/materials involved.

 5. Mr. Umasankar Sinha Mahapatra, Managing Director, Pulcra Chemicals India Pvt. Ltd. made the presentation on “Sustainable Wet Processing of Textiles”. Speaker highlighted the scope and goal of establishing the circularity and sustainability in the textile value chain while illustrating the developmental work done by M/s Pulcra Chemicals India Pvt Limited. He informed Fashion & textile industry in one of the top manufacturing sectors in terms of its negative environmental footprints. There is an immediate need to adopt more sustainable practices to make it safer to the consumers and to the environment. Various material innovations are happening in sustainable fibers, but unless those are processed using sustainable processing chemicals, it’s not complete. Textile processing chemicals can be categorized in two buckets: a. EcoLogical Textile Products and b. EcoNomical Textile Processes.

In case of EcoLogical textile products, it is produced from renewable sources, mostly biodegradable, recycled and non/less toxic. In case of EcoNomical Textile Processes, it helps to reduce resource (water, energy & time) intensity of the manufacturing process. Processing chemicals play a vital role in both these categories. Product designing plays a big role in making products safe for use by consumers, during service life (low temp washing, quick drying) and at end of life (easy to recycle/safe disposal). Various biobased/biodegradable functional finishes are available to improve product features, such as thermal regulations, moisture management, safer DWR and stain release. Health & hygiene of wearers can be improved by using performance finishing such as plant-based antimicrobial, skin moisturizing finishes etc. There are use cases of adopting pro- biotics and CBD based products in textiles. Case studies of some of these products and processes are available from Pulcra Chemicals and Devan Chemicals (part of Pulcra Group). Breviol DNV is a sustainable dyeing technology for Indigo and/or Sulphur dyed Denim which reduces water and dyes consumption along with making the effluent much cleaner than traditional dyeing process. Sustineri coloring technology is revolutionary single bath pretreatment and dyeing technology which can reduce water, steam, and electricity consumption up to 60% for 100% cotton and Polyester/Cotton fabrics. Many innovations happening in processing equipment as well which can help making wet processing more sustainable. Some of these new technologies are disruptive in nature making use of spray, plasma, laser, ultrasonic etc.

6.Dr. Ratnakar R. Mahajan, Regional Technical Manager, Maccaferri Environmental Solutions Pvt. Ltd. made the presentation on “Nurturing the World of tomorrow using Geosynthetics”. The speaker discussed the importance of geosynthetics in various infrastructure projects and its impact on environmental aspects. While describing various projects, the highlights of the activities of the organization over a period were narrated by the speaker.

7. Mr. Ranga Nathan NS, Vice President – Head of Customer Engagement, TextileGenesis made the presentation on “Why Traceability has become top-priority for Fashion brands”. The presentation highlighted the importance of traceability in the context of sustainability and circularity. The speaker informed the role and contribution of TextileGenesis in the context of Life Cycle Assessment/impact in the value chain right from raw material to finished goods.

8. Dr. Ajay Ranka, Chairman and Managing Director, Zydex Group made the presentation on “Farm & Forest Sustainability for Organic Fibre Production – Profitable one crop transition”. In his presentation, he informed that today, India is the largest organic cotton grower in the world, accounting 50% of global share but represent less than 1% of total cotton produce. The process of conversion of conventional farms to organic remains financially unfeasible for most farmers, despite various benefits. During transition, yields drop significantly leading to losses to farmers, thereby conversions become a challenge. As an acceptable solution to organic farming, the speaker highlighted the developments made in their organization. He informed that Zydex has developed Zytonic Soil amendment technology platform, inoculated with mycorrhiza and different microbial like NPK consortia, which help for faster conversion of soil to organic farms. It addresses all the aspects of physical, biological, and chemical properties of farm soils. This is a biodegradable and biology boosting technology. It makes soils soft and reduces crusting, thereby improving germination and helps in faster transition to organic farms. He also conveyed that there are case studies carried out by the company in adapting them for harnessing positive results. A positive note on the developments highlighted include Zydex with its innovative Zytonic technology is collaborating with stakeholder to revive cotton land, making farming processes sustainable and organic all in a single crop cycle.

There was good interaction by speakers with the delegates during question answer sessions resulting thereon effective delivery of the though sharing on the theme of conference “Sustainability and Circularity”.

Panel Discussion on “Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)”

The third technical session was Panel Discussion with the theme Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs). The panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Chandrima Chatterjee, Secretary General, CITI. The Panel consisted of Mr. Rahul Bhajekar, Managing Director, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Mr. Shyamlal Patnaik, Joint President – Head Specialty Products, Grasim Industries Ltd., Mr. Kapil Pathare, Director, VIP Clothing Ltd., Mr. M. Gunasekaran, Technical Marketing & Development Manager (South Asia), Lenzing Fibers, Mr. Avik Banerjee, Material and Components, H&M Group, Hennes & Mauritz India Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Srinivasan Krishnamurthy, Raw Material Specialist, IKEA Services (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Ms. Chandrima Chatterjee made her initial remarks on the relevance of the theme and proposed appropriate queries to each panel member from the point of view of the sustainable development goals and their share of experience/contribution of the organization in contributing to the Indian/international perspectives. While responding to the moderator’s specific query, each panel member responded to bring home the relevant goals of the SDG interfacing Sustainability and circularity in relation to textile and clothing industry. The strategies of program for attaining the results under SDGs from different perspectives and documentation with digitalization, Organic Certification, Generation of sustainability report on annual basis as corporate philosophy, Value Chain, Raw material flow in the ecology and environment while achieving the efficiency etc. were discussed. The panel discussion brought home the salient features of SDGs collating to circularity in achieving sustainability through the thematic delivery by panel members and interaction by the delegates.   

Mr. Haresh B. Parekh, Hon. Secretary, TAI, Mumbai Unit proposed a vote of the thanks to everyone who have contributed for the success of the international conference which was attended by around 275 participants.