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The new paradigm

November 12th, 2013 / By: / My Take

The discussion of good for business versus good for the environment is shifting slowly—but surely. Perhaps a better question today is, if it’s not sustainable, can it be commercialized?

Does anyone spend time and money on researching new technologies that are counter to today’s environmental guidelines or mandates? Does anyone launch a new product into the advanced textiles market without considering the environment? Does anyone have a textiles conference anymore without at least one session devoted to sustainability issues? (There are entire conferences devoted to textile sustainability issues—one, in fact, is about to begin in Turkey as I write this. Its focus is more on apparel, but it is part of the larger textile world.)

The answer to these queries is, “I suppose it’s possible.” But I’m not hearing about them. What I hear, rather, says to me that new textile technologies, generally, are not likely to move forward without paying attention to currently accepted environmental standards, and marketing for new products in the advanced textiles industry certainly makes a point of detailing eco-friendly qualities.

At IFAI’s 2013 Advanced Textiles Conference and Trade Show there were three sessions specifically on sustainability issues, and at the Specialty Fabrics Expo, a “Green Roofs for Designers” class designed for architects. Many other discussions included environmental concerns. (See “Advanced textiles professionals gather in Orlando.”)

While it’s true that other parts of the world are showing us up (see this issue’s featured articles), more companies doing business in the U.S. are striving to meet Europe’s mandates—and many are succeeding.

No doubt there are claims that are not entirely accurate, or made by those who have not researched (much less documented) their supply chain, but even those companies recognize the importance of making the claim, at the very least, and are taking steps to make good on their stated commitment.

In fact, when one looks at the obvious—an industry beginning to embrace sustainability or moving that direction—one might ask, at what point do we quit talking about it because it’s simply a non-issue?

Note: All of the links added under the “Of Interest” tab for this issue are sustainability focused. And take a look at the “Eco Note” tab on this site, too. If your company has a story to tell about your efforts to implement sustainable practices, or you have a product release or relevant project, let us know.