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Friday, May 24, 2024

Sustainability This Week: European Commission setting criteria to tackle greenwashing, and other updates!

Greenwashing, also called “green sheen,” is a form of advertising or marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization’s products, aims, and policies are environmentally friendly. The European Commission has proposed common criteria against greenwashing and misleading environmental claims. When companies choose to make a ‘green claim’ about their products or services, they must respect minimum norms on how they substantiate these claims and how they communicate them, as per the new proposal. The proposal aims to offer consumers more clarity and stronger reassurance that when something is sold as green, it is green, and better-quality information to choose environment-friendly products and services, the European Commission said in a press release.

Before companies communicate the covered types of ‘green claims’ to consumers, such claims must be independently verified and proven with scientific evidence. As part of the scientific analysis, companies will identify the environmental impacts relevant to their product and any possible trade-offs to give a full and accurate picture. The proposal will also regulate environmental labels. There are currently at least 230 different labels, and there is evidence that this leads to consumer confusion and distrust. To control the proliferation of such labels, new public labeling schemes will not be allowed unless developed at the EU level, and any new private schemes will need to show higher environmental ambition than existing ones and get a pre-approval to be allowed. There are detailed rules about environmental labels; generally, they must be reliable, transparent, independently verified, and regularly reviewed.

Further this week, the Climate Action organization Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published two reports which inform its recommendation to the UK government for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for the UK’s fashion and textiles industry. The two reports, Textiles Policy Options paper and supporting Cost Benefits Analysis provide the government with the evidence and insights necessary to make an informed decision on textiles policy in the UK. The work includes a shortlist of policy options, the outcomes of each, and their effectiveness as standalone policies or in support of other options on the list, WRAP said in a press release.

Further this week, Michelman, a US-based company, has announced that it has earned an EcoVadis gold rating for sustainability. Michelman ranks in the top 96th percentile of 100,000+ companies evaluated across over 200 industries and 175 countries. The EcoVadis sustainability assessment evaluates how well a company has integrated sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles across four main themes: environment, labor and human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement.

Further this week, Deutsche Telekom has built an ecosystem that covers the entire textile recycling process, including intelligent control of container fill levels, reuse, and recycling. Smart textile recycling containers help to reduce material consumption and CO2 emissions in the production of textiles. Moreover, with partners Remondis and the Boer Group, new fibers can be produced from old workwear. In addition to work clothes, Deutsche Telekom has been collecting discarded jeans in smart textile containers since December 2021. Over 2,380 kg of textiles has been recycled since then. This corresponds to 15.71 million liters of water saved and 35.7 tons fewer CO2 emissions. Currently, recycling containers for workwear are located outside Deutsche Telekom sites in Bonn, Cologne, Bochum and Berlin. Additionally, 25 smart textile garbage cans are located in the office buildings in Bonn, Cologne, Leipzig, Saarbrücken, Frankfurt and Chemnitz. The goal is to roll out recycling facilities across all Deutsche Telekom sites in Germany.

Further this week, Uster has outlined the challenges & solutions of recycled yarn. Spinning yarn blends of virgin and recycled fibers is a bigger challenge than any other commonly used blend. However, the results can still be acceptable with comprehensive quality testing, know-how, and experience, and the new Uster Statistics 2023 edition as a vital benchmarking tool. Blending virgin and recycled cotton is well-known as a challenge for spinners. The smartest spinners and world-class processes cannot overcome the fact that some important quality parameters will be adversely affected. Using recycled cotton in a blend with new fibre will impact the overall yarn strength and CV percentage. The Uster Statistics 2023 edition features an extended range of fiber data supporting sustainability goals. An ideal fiber mix – with or without recycled content also ensures meeting quality requirements for the least waste. Fiber graphs will be newly available for every process step.

Further, this week, a US North Carolina State University (NC State) team discovered a way to separate blended cotton and polyester fabric using enzymes. The discovery will lead to a more efficient way to recycle the fabric’s component materials, thereby reducing textile waste, they hope. However, if the blended fabric is dyed or treated with chemicals that increase wrinkle resistance, the process needs more steps. The polyester will not degrade in a landfill, and the cotton might take several months or more to break down. Using the new method, the cotton can be separated from polyester in less than 48 hours, said the author Sonja Salmon, associate professor of textile engineering, chemistry, and science at NC State.

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