Planet Textiles Take-Out

Mara Hoffman 1

Planet Textiles 2016

The Sustainable Textile Summit was held on 11 May in Copenhagen. Key politicians and industry leaders from across the world participated including TIPA, represented by VP Sales, Elz Hotam, speaking on the topic of “Closing the Loop Today- #Compostable #Packaging.”

Reflecting on his take-outs from Planet Textiles, Elz said, “First of all, it’s very clear to me that sustainability is a big issue for the fashion industry for all sorts of reasons. One of them of course refers to the materials they are using, be that natural materials and fibers or artificial ones like PET. The fashion industry is the largest consumer of PET – actually much more, significantly more – than the PET that is used for bottles.”

He continued, “A lot has to do with recycling, a lot of thinking is done towards not just improving the supply chain but also to extend the life of the fashion item as much as possible for its current consumer, or for its future … secondary or tertiary life, so to speak. To convert it to something else, if it’s possible.”

Sustainability challenges for the fashion industry

Comparing stages of development of packaging for fashion and food, Elz said, “If I compare to what happens in food, I think people were talking about sustainable packaging in food ten years ago. When it comes to fashion, we – Tipa – are the newcomers, the ones that are carrying that message along with a wonderful material, that looks and feels much like conventional materials .”

He continued, “In that sense when we bring compostable packaging to the fashion industry, and we’re seen as very, very edgy and very, very unique. I find the fashion industry to be more accommodating to such innovation in that context. Fashion is all about emotions, it’s all about image, it’s all about trending, while the cost of the packaging is only a small part of the overall cost. Therefore, It seems they are better able to embrace changes in packaging structure and design.

Recycling vs compostability

“There is a considerable movement to be more sustainable from retailers and brands,” said Elz, “They are focusing on recycling. I think I understand the rationale behind it (a) people understand “recycling” (b) cost of packaging remains low (c) it aligns with the overall strategy of  extending shelve life of apparel/fashion (d) it calls for – or at least has the potential to better engage consumers.

“I don’t believe personally that recycling is the right thing to do here.  At the end of the day, a national program for recycling of flexible packaging means an investment in yet another infrastructure to handle such materials on top of the existing recycling (of rigid), landfills and compost.  Moreover, it will call for even greater discipline and work from the end consumer.   Contrary to that, our approach allows consumers to easily dispose of the packaging along with the organic waste, knowing that within few months that package will end its life and return to the planet as a resource.

Potential of compostable packaging for fashion

“I have a very good sense that we of are just scratching the surface of it now,” said Elz. “We are just beginning. I feel very, very good about this industry and I think we have something unique and innovative and very, very revolutionary to offer.”