An interview with James Carnahan, Global Sustainability Manager at Archroma.

  1. What do you see as the key challenges facing the textile industry today?

A lack of transparency across the supply chain makes it harder to track the sustainable credentials of textiles from fibre to fashion. The lack of meaningful information about where a garment was made makes it easier for brands to distance themselves from their responsibility to encourage more sustainable practices.

From an environmental perspective, the pressure to deliver increasingly softer, more durable fabrics resulted in the extensive use of chemicals. Add regulatory pressures and specific brand certifications into the mix, the textile industry is going to have to embrace new ways of working or it will fail to benefit from the opportunities a more sustainable approach offers.

  1. What are the barriers to sustainability in the industry, as it stands?

Cost, or more specifically profit margins, represent a significant barrier. There is a common preconception that moving towards more sustainable solutions automatically results in increased costs and reduced profitability. Because consumers are demanding cheap items of clothing, the industry is reluctant to adopt new solutions that could involve additional costs as they cannot be passed onto the consumer.

The textiles industry is ripe for disruption but a fear of rising costs or changes in established processes means there is a strong resistance to change. But rather than shying away from innovation altogether, the industry can start by making small, high-impact improvements.

  1. What have been some of the key developments towards a sustainable future for textiles?

There is a greater level of awareness around sustainability issues across the supply chain and brands are having to respond to consumer demand for more sustainable textiles. There’s also growing evidence of stakeholders starting to collaborate more closely to establish and implement industry wide improvements.

  1. How does your organisation contribute to a cleaner, greener textile industry?

 In 2012, Archroma introduced ONE WAY, a proprietary methodology to help mills and brand owners to develop innovative textile solutions that are both ecologically and economically sustainable. Our ultimate aim is to provide a fast, measurable and reliable approach to the selection of chemical product and process solutions to help customers meet their sustainability targets in a fast and reliable manner.

Our commitment to innovation has seen us deliver new technologies to enable our customers to achieve their sustainability goals from replacement of hazardous chemicals, reduction in the use of energy and water and productivity improvements.

  1. Where do you see the role of innovation in achieving sustainability goals and where do you think this innovation will come from?

Innovation will manifest itself in a number of ways to transform the textiles industry.

The introduction of new chemistries will allow the replacement of hazardous chemicals with more benign alternatives and new-generation processing technologies will deliver further benefits. The introduction of further global regulations concerning textile production and incentivising of sustainability measures will help to further accelerate the implementation of these new chemistries and technologies.

To read the full interview and explore how a collaborative approach across the supply chain could help lighten the textile industry’s environmental load, download our new white paper by clicking here.


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