The Rupp Report: The Battle For Energy Has Just Begun
By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
For decades, energy wasn’t such an issue for politicians, citizens or industry. However, with an
increasing consciousness of ecological issues and overloaded landfills, people — mainly in Europe —
started protesting for a “better and cleaner world.” Eventually, the first “Green” political
parties were founded in Europe, and in the beginning, the hype to be green was big. Even glamorous
show business stars participated and demonstrated their feelings on green issues.
However, environmental protection and not the worry over resources was primarily at issue. Eventually, the first studies on climate change started to emerge in the public realm. Alternative energy resources, mainly for cars, became a daily issue in the media. Japan as an island got the message and started to produce cars that consumed less gas, as well as hybrid vehicles.
Changing Textile Markets
Also, textile markets are radically changing. Emerging countries in the Far East have started more and more to intrude on international markets. This trend started in the 1960s — first with Hong Kong in apparel, followed by Japan in textile machinery.
The situation changed dramatically when China started to be a production powerhouse for the whole world, and not only in textiles. Hong Kong abandoned its production and became the gateway to China. The energy consumption, and thus also the prices for energy, soared and destroyed most of the Western textile production. The Western world claimed unfair processing methods regarding environmental issues.
A Way To Survive
With today’s energy prices and the lack of clean resources such as water, many Asian countries are realizing that environmentally friendly processing, energy savings and a gentle deployment of resources are no longer a political issue, but the only way to survive economically.
This trend has also left its footprints in the textile machinery industry by kicking off a lot of new developments in yarn and fabric forming, mainly in the finishing sector. Reduced energy consumption and lower liquor ratios are just a few key phrases in today’s competitive marketplace. At ITMA 2007 in Munich, many manufacturers of textile machinery showed their latest equipment operating with less energy and natural resources.
Recently, a well-known supplier of sports fabrics mentioned in an interview that only by using finishing machinery with a reduced liquor ratio and water consumption was he able to pay for his investment in three years.
And, a famous Germany-based manufacturer of screws and tools — and more recently, solar panels — said: “In the beginning, ecological issues were considered in my company to be a bonus for the corporate image. Now we have realized that we can make a lot of money out of it.”
November 6, 2007