Today Aquafil’s CEO Giulio Bonazzi was at the World Innovation Convention in Berlin for a keynote about “Changing Habits: The mentoring power brands can use to engage their customers and drive innovation.”
The convention is at its 8th annual edition and is taking place from the 6th to the 8th of December 2017. The keywords are: disrupt, transform and innovate. Giulio Bonazzi was happy to have the chance to present the ECONYL® Regeneration System and the work we do with some of our customers as a case study to how brands can have a mentoring power to foster change in habits and to push for more sustainable choices.
Mr. Bonazzi’s presentation started from the latest data in the Oeko-Tex study about consumers and textiles sustainability. Is sustainability important for consumers? It is, but at the moment, mostly on an aspirational level, perhaps because it is quite difficult to make sustainable choices. Even Dame Elle MacArthur during an interview to the BBC about her latest report on circular economy and fibers says: “Consumers in the UK cannot be circular with their fashion decision. It is very hard to, and that’s because the industry isn’t circular.”
But how do people check sustainability?
These are other interesting figures that can help in understanding where to start to intercept consumers who are willing to know more about the sustainability and the story behind products. As we can see from this data, brands play a major role for consumers, and this was also reinforced by three examples of our customers using our ECONYL® regenerated yarn produced using nylon waste instead of virgin oil.
The first brilliant example of communication comes from Outerknown. Giulio Bonazzi shared a video recently published by the brand that focuses on the importance of materials when talking about sustainable fashion.
Outerknown has done a great job in telling the story behind their products by visiting our facility to check all the processes and always sharing pictures and videos about the story behind the products, which is connected to their brand philosophy.
Another example comes from our Spanish customer Ternua. We collaborated with them to recover spent fishing nets from the fisherman in northern Spanish harbors and regenerate the nets into our process. Their strategy was to take the whole story to the point of sale with plexiglass cubes full of the waste materials so that people could touch and feel the materials used in the regeneration. Ternua won the Gold Industry Award 2017 at the OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen (Germany) with the trousers in the picture below.
The last case study was dedicated to another big question that always comes up when talking about sustainability: “How can we get brands to develop products differently?” Well, we believe that the answer is: “Starting with the end in mind,” as Mr. Bonazzi said today.
One example is Desso’s EcoBase™, a revolutionary backing for textile floorings that is designed for remanufacturing.
This type of carpet can be divided easily at the end of its lifetime and can be recycled in is entirety: the ECONYL® fiber can be regenerated again and again without any loss in quality, and the EcoBase™ backing that is on the bottom can be upcycled as it is made with re-engineered calcium carbonate (chalk) from local drinking water companies. No wonder this product obtained a Cradle-to-Cradle Silver certification.
Mr. Bonazzi closed his keynote by talking about the Healthy Seas initiative that was co-founded by Aquafil and that recovers ghost nets around Europe with the help of volunteer divers. The fishing nets are upcycled into ECONYL® yarn thanks to our process, and they will get to leave a new life as an ingredient for beautiful design and fashion products. The strength of this initiative is not only the partnership between business and NGO but also the collaboration of companies coming from different industries to tackle the problem of marine waste. In fact, the growing results of Healthy Seas in terms of ghost nets recovered is also due to the increasing number of brands that are supporting the initiative that allows us to organize more and more diving activities to retrieve dangerous ghost nets from the bottom of the seas. You can read more about the latest results of Healthy Seas in our most recent Medium article.