ITMA 2015, held from 12 – 19 November 2015 at Milan, Italy, saw an unprecedented competition among exhibitors over various features related to what they call “sustainable technology” – also termed as “green technology”. A major requirement for any technology to be sustainable is that it should not irrevocably destroy any resource (except an insignificant amount) that is not renewable and it should be durable enough that any renewable resources it requires can be replenished during its life. Normally, if a technology claims to be energy efficient, less polluting, recyclable, and easy to maintain, then it is termed as “sustainable” but there is a growing concern that it must also be affordable and economically viable. It must create more value than it costs over the long term and contribute to the overall prosperity of all the stakeholders.
The ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award was also launched this year by CEMATEX, the European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers, to encourage and recognize outstanding industry members and students for their contributions to the sustainable development of the global textile and garment industry. The 1st ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award, under the Industry Excellence category, was won by Levi Strauss & Co. for Using the Italian NoStone Garment Washing Technology from Tonello srl. The technology effectively addresses a key industry issue in denim finishing – the use of pumice stones which have environmental, economic and mechanical disadvantages. This Industry Excellence Award recognizes textile and garment manufacturers who have leveraged on technological innovations to advance business sustainability that benefit people, planet and profit. The finalists for Industry Excellence Award were Berto Industria Tessile SRL (Matex® Eco Applicator by Monforts) and Gebrüder Otto GmbH & Co. KG (spinitsystems® by Mayer & Cie).
Similarly, the Research & Innovation Excellence Award was won by Jan Vincent Jordan for “Development and assembly of a test bench for the analysis of magnetic weft insertion” Master’s Thesis. The nomination for this was from the Institut für Textiltechnik, RWTH Aachen University. Finalists for R&I Excellence Award meant for students were Jenifer Schneidereit (Sustainable Water Use in Textile Wet Processing) nominated by Hochschule Niederrhein and Moniruddoza Ashir (Development of hybrid woven structures for lightweight applications) nominated by the Institute of Textile Machinery and High Performance Material Technology, TU Dresden.
Stainability – the core theme of ITMA 2015 – was amply reflected in the wealth of new equipment that uses less energy and water, produces fewer emissions and creates less waste. It was also evident from the newer dyestuffs and chemicals as companies try to stay ahead of consumer and regulatory expectations. Even in the fiber and yarn areas, one could see the expansion in the application of polymers made from bio-feedstocks or from recycled waste.
The theme of sustainability was also noticed in the place it occupied in various conferences organized along with the show. This year’s ITMA in Milan had a dedicated space for the digital textile printing sector which has greatly evolved as a mature industry offering great sustainability opportunities.
In coming months, it is expected that the industry leaders will give a serious thought to adapting to the latest technologies that are made available for the first time offering immense potential to be profitably green. The technology vendors have great hopes. Let’s hope they will not be disappointed. At the same time, the liberal use of the term “sustainability’ also creates doubts regarding it’s use as a marketing badge. So, some restraint is warranted, obviously.