After a fairly manageable spring and summer 2023 schedule, Textile World editors saw no shortage of events fill the fall calendar as the new year quickly approached.
Shows, meetings and events of all stripes dominated the industry calendar — a welcome turn from the bleak days of COVID seclusion, and healthy sign that the industry is curious, outgoing and searching for new ideas and innovations.
Meeting old friends and making new connections is a great feature of the old school face-to-face event schedule. Strong themes including sustainability, recycling, traceability throughout supply chains, efficient manufacturing, near shoring and technical applications, dominated conversations.
With the overhang of an uncertain economy, investment activity and the search for innovative technologies continues to be center stage.
In some areas, like fiber recycling — or better yet fiber “regeneration”— there seems to be a maturing theme as budding technologies are taking hold.
Recently, a press release posted in TextileWorld.com’s “Breaking News” section informed readers about a new company, Reju, formed by Technip Energies, IBM Corp. and Under Armour to “address the fast-growing market of global rPET.” According to the news release, global rPET — recycled polyester —demand from the textile market is “expected to grow up to 20 [million tonnes per annum] by 2033, driven by industry pledges and targets on recycling, regulation and consumer awareness of the need to reduce plastic waste.”
Apparently, the trio of codevelopers have been working together since 2021 to bring IBM’s VolCat technology to a commercial level and using the “molecular sorter” to regenerate polyester indefinitely.
According to Reju, former Under Armour CEO and apparel industry veteran Patrik Frisk will lead the new company along with Alain Poincheval as COO, a senior executive with Technip Energies. Arnaud Pieton, CEO of Technip Energies, stated: “Globally, less than 1 percent of PET textiles waste is recycled today. This means that most textiles end up as waste in landfills when they could be repeatedly reused in new clothes. What has been holding the world back in textile circularity is not a lack of demand for textile recycling but the lack of a solution that makes recycling of textiles economical on an industrial scale.”
This is just one of many stories illustrating the dynamic nature of today’s textile industry— and the importance of circularity in textiles.
This issue of TW is an interesting mix of stories. On one hand, it presents coverage of the many events that have recently sparked industry conversations, and on the other hand features continued technology coverage from the many innovations showcased at ITMA 2023.
It may seem as if the ITMA coverage will never end, but that is a narrow view. If one stands back and considers things from a technology perspective, what a display of real invention, innovation and creativity there is to explore from ITMA. Consider the hours and level of investment made to bring new manufacturing concepts to a commercial level and then educate the global industry about the potential these new technologies present— it really is an incredible opportunity for the textile industry.
It is heartening to see major players like IBM and Under Amour take a stake in textiles— a challenging industry, but one that always looks to innovation to power a bright future.