Learning The New Golden Rule

Sustainable development can be defined as building value without impacting the opportunities of
future generations to do the same. Sounds a bit like the Golden Rule and, in essence, it is. Future
generations will be pleased if we leave them a clean natural environment, opportunities for
development and a future vision for their children. Corporations are looking at the benefits of the
triple bottom line of profits, environment and community, as equally important in building
long-term value. Sustainable PhilosophyThe philosophy of sustainability that has been
developing since the 1960s is based on the idea that environmental stewardship and total quality
management are one in the same. Integration of all business processes into one unified vision of
success, comes as our information driven world produces better tools to measure and observe the
effects of change on ever larger systems.When our businesses become more like nature, operational
losses move closer toward zero. This maximizes efficiency, which in turn increases profits. Seems
simple, but its not. From A Textile Point Of ViewThe textile industry is one that has great
opportunities to build truly sustainable value. Visionary textile com-panies are designing their
businesses to thrive in a dynamic market that will con-tinue to grow with a population of informed
and savvy consumers.

Striving for zero operational losses increases profits and also leaves a cleaner environment
for future generations.The textile industry has always been on the leading edge of changes. It was
the first industry to emerge from the cottage into factories, thus beginning the Industrial
Revolution. It is an industry that has always followed its sources of raw materials and developing
economies, seeking greater efficiencies and lower costs. The reasons for the migration of U.S.
textile manufacturing from the Northeast to the South was based on the proximity to the cotton crop
and the ready, low-cost labor after the Civil War.So the industry moves today, with whole segments
of textile production leaving the United States and following lower labor costs as the raw material
supply chain becomes global.The first indicators of the real value of designing textile businesses
based on the principals of sustainable development were seen in the 1990s. Polyester fleece fabrics
made from recycled soda bottles, organic cotton farming, low-impact dyeing and finishing with
process water recycling, dyeing with supercritical CO2 and carpet fibers and backing being recycled
are all movements toward a sustainable business model. Commerce itself is even being redefined.
Interface Inc., Atlanta, a forward- thinking textile company, believes that owning carpeting is not
necessary to achieve a floor covering that is clean and is always serviced. It is the function of
what is wanted, not the thing itself. Commerce is being designed to pay for function and utility.
Automobiles, clothes and computers provide function and utility. We do not need to own the thing to
get these services. This simple redesign of commerce produces opportunities to increase durability,
eliminate non-recycled raw materials and increases efficiency in design as things are produced that
are built to last forever.Burlington Chemical Co., Burlington, N.C., an ISO 9001 specialty chemical
manufacturer that serves the textile industry, adopted the principals of sustainable development
two years ago. It was decided to focus on these goals as a way to build value in the company over
the long term and to increase the ultimate efficiency of the company.Burlington Chemical believes
that value can be defined as:Value = Cost + Benefits;Benefits = Efficient control of
complexity.Using these two equations, it is easy to see that when there are no benefits, costs or
price is the only factor that drives value. Controlling complexity as a benefit diminishes the cost
or price issues in the equation. The higher the benefit the less important the cost. Aiding In
The ControlIt was decided in 1987 that a class of surfactants call Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylates (APEs)
were indicated in foaming and aquatic toxicity problems. There were known alternatives based on
proven safer chemistry, but were a bit more expensive. Burlington Chemical decided as a policy not
to use these APE products to remove one variable from the aquatic toxicity issues facing its
customers. This has saved the company and its customers millions of dollars in environmental costs
by taking the simple natural solution of using less toxic materials when available.BurcoCare a
product stewardship testing program produces biodegrad-ability, aquatic toxicity and biomass
toxicity data on all Burco® products. This readily available information controls the complexity of
information gathering and questions concerning chemistry.Burco SA-200 is the first reactive dyeing
alkali to be manufactured directly from CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere. Tons of this
greenhouse gas was converted in a product used in textile dyeing using a patented technique that
mimics the actions of corals and plants. It is the first true liquid carbonate dyeing alkali. The
majority of the Burco products from synthesis are based on vegetable derived chemistries and have
high yields producing little or no toxic by-products.Rehance®, a new printing process, has been
developed to replace plastisol printing of textiles. This eliminates PVC and phthalates from
decorated textiles and reduces the weight of the prints by 200+ percent. It is a breathable,
durable and iron able screen-printing technique that builds value in cellulose textiles.At
Burlington Chemical, more than 80 percent of all its shipping containers are recycled. Trees are
planted each year to use the CO2 produced by driving company transports. Programs in recycling and
reuse of resources are active throughout the company. A Smart Tank virtual inventory
management system using ERP software is controlling inventory costs and cash flows for customers.
Managing information is managing complexity and building value. Also, Health/Safety and
Environmental Affairs and the ISO Quality group were merged within the company.

Visionary textile companies are designing its businesses to thrive in a dynamic market
containing informed and savvy consumers. Gaining MomentumThe efforts of organizations
worldwide to define sustainable value, thus improving the efficiency of commerce and sustaining
society are gaining momentum. It is not the program of the week or the newest hot topic out of
business schools, but a way to build continuous value for the stakeholders of corporations by
mimicking the efficiency of nature.Nature is a system that has millions of years of continuous
improvement as evolution and is the best model that we have for true efficiency. The value of
building corporate goals based on producing smarter products that contain less stuff, can enable a
higher quality of life for everyone. The textile industry is at a crossroads. The opportunities to
build value in apparel, commercial and industrial textiles are great when viewed within the context
of the principals of sustainable development.