Innovation Awards: Three steps aid ecological selection

18 October 2013 10:23  [Source: ICB]

The “One Way” sustainability service, which helps textile mills and brand owners develop ecological and sustainable solutions, has won Archroma this year’s award for Best Business Innovation

The “One Way” service is a fast, measurable and reliable approach to the selection of materials and processes in the textile industry. It was launched in October 2012 by the textile chemicals, paper specialties and emulsions businesses of Clariant, now known as Archroma following their acquisition by SK Capital in September 2013.

By applying a systematic approach to the specification and selection of chemicals and production processes, the “One Way” sustainability service can add ecological and economical sustainability to textile production through reductions in water and energy consumption, time, chemical usage and CO2 emissions.

Project leader Emrah Esder, Archroma’s head of marketing, textile chemicals, says: “The ‘One Way’ service brings a much wider coverage, because we have significantly increased the number of materials from the restricted substance list (RSLs) that we screen, responded to pressure from environmental groups, and reacted to demand from large industrial textiles producers.”

Work on the project to develop the service was driven by a small team headed by Esder: Frank Reidl, head of services application development; Hans Schneider, senior product stewardship expert, textile specialties and paper solutions businesses; and Violet Lin, head of GLS Chemicals, textile specialties business.

According to Reidl, “The team initially approached 50 to 60 customers, predominantly in Asia, South America and Europe, and feedback was reviewed. We also worked closely with major machinery suppliers to develop the calculation tool. The outcome was a three-step process that for the first time embraced ecology and the environment in addition to costs.”

The first step is the selection of products based on data on a range of materials collected and integrated in the “One Way” selector. “All dyes and chemicals included have been screened by Archroma’s product stewardship specialists against over 15 textiles eco-standards and criteria. This allows information to be accessed on how each material scores in terms of toxicological and ecological profile and standards,” Reidl says. Its entire textile and dyes portfolio will ultimately be included in the selector.

The second step is process shortlisting, where textile manufacturers can narrow their selection of products to one of four process groups, based on their environmental focus and how it affects climate, resources and waste water content and volumes. The final step is the selection of the solution, based on software known as the “One Way” calculator, where the cost, performance and environmental profile of products can be assessed almost instantly.

The calculator allows the cost and performance profile of a production process to be measured, based on parameters such as dyes and chemicals, water, energy and time. An environmental profile can also be developed based on chemical oxygen demand, biological oxygen demand, carbon dioxide emissions, energy consumption and water usage.

Once all steps are complete, the customer receives a “One Way” scorecard with calculations based on a set of key indicators. This assesses the benefits of using “One Way” processes against existing processes, with potential energy savings and environmental gains presented numerically and graphically. This allows the customer to choose from a number of processes based on their own environmental and cost focus. If a process is modified, or a new simulation is modelled, the scorecard will clearly reflect the changes.

In addition to user research around the world, the effectiveness of the “One Way” was tested at major textile machinery manufacturer Fong’s Industries. When compared, the measured outputs from one of Fong’s most advanced dyeing machines were within ±5% of the “One Way” simulation, indicating the software is working “in a most accurate way”, Esder says.

In conclusion, Esder adds: “The main breakthrough in this approach is that the tool has been developed to communicate in a simple way with customers and mill operators because we would like them to change their mindset – I believe we can achieve this in the medium term. The principal difference with this process is that it gives a wide vision to the customers and lets them understand a combination of ecology, economy and the environment.”

Moving forward, a “compliance light” tool has been developed that allows thousands of chemicals to be screened in a very short period of time, reducing process development time, and a “light” version of the software is planned for customers who do not require the full “One Way” service.

Author: Mark Whitfield

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