A recent episode of Presadiretta (Direct Connection) on the Rai 3 TV channel investigated the impact of the textile industry on the environment and health. COEX technology produces 100% fireproof and sustainable plant-based fabrics, combining safety, well-being and sustainability.
Making fashion sustainable means focusing on respecting the environment at every step of the supply chain: the clothing industry’s impact on the ecosystem does not just come in at the last stage of a garment’s life cycle, the recycling process or its disposal, but encompasses the entire textile supply chain. The latest episode of Riccardo Iacona’s Presadiretta series entitled Panni Sporchi (Dirty Laundry) highlighted that, after the oil industry, the fashion industry is the most polluting in the world “using 98 million tons of non-renewable resources and 93 billion cubic meters of water, as well as emitting 1.2 billion tons of CO2 and releasing 500 thousand tonnes of microplastic fibres into the oceans”. For many years, made of COEX, the only 100% fireproof plant-based fabric available, has promoted a 100% safe and healthy, as well as plastic-free, lifestyle.
Data on world textile production, furthermore, shows this has doubled in recent years, increasing from 50 billion garments in 2004 to over 100 billion in 2019. Concurrently, the average life of a fast-fashion garment has decreased by 36%: in a nutshell, we buy more clothes that don’t last as long and very little is recycled. This is because textile fibres can be recycled only if sustainable processes are used. Meanwhile, according to data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which continually monitors the state of the textile system in Italy and the rest of the world, the reality is that only 1% of clothes are correctly recycled.
Another extremely worrying fact is that during the production phase, the fashion industry uses more than 2,000 chemicals, some of which are toxic such as phthalates, formaldehyde, heavy metals, solvents and artificial dyes. In a recent survey, Greenpeace tested 40 outdoor clothing and equipment products (jackets, shoes, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and even ropes), purchased in 19 countries: traces of PFC were found in 90% of the items. These substances, used for waterproofing, do not easily degrade, remain in the environment for hundreds of years and are harmful to health. Furthermore, pesticides found in garments produced in India for Italian shops have been shown to be highly resistant to washing, which means that they do not wash away over time, causing serious dermatological problems. It is no surpise that the EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (Rapex), ranks clothing and fashion items at the top of the list for high-risk chemicals. An earlier COEX blog focuses on formaldehyde, which is traditionally used in “wash-resistant” fireproof treatments, in more depth.
COEX technology was born out of a need to ensure 100% fireproofing of garments and remains, to date, the only technology in the world to guarantee 100% fireproofing of fibres and materials of plant-based origin, combining safety and well-being without the use or release of formaldehyde or other toxic substances, which are harmful to humans and the environment.
The COEX pledge is, in fact, twofold: to guarantee 100% fireproof security combined with health, well-being and sustainability, which is offered by its pure plant fibres, thereby offering a revolutionary and unmatched innovation in today's world.
For many years, through the REACH Regulation, the European Union has committed to regulating the use of chemical substances. This regulation controls the risk associated with the use of chemical substances through restrictions. These restrictions impose requirements with regard to the content of dangerous chemical substances for both products manufactured in the EU and for imported products and the relevant licences.
Alongside the measures adopted by the European Union, the Detox campaign, promoted by Greenpeace, has proven to be a valid tool in combatting and raising awareness of textile pollution. Promoted on an international level, the campaign aims to eliminate dangerous substances from the entire production chain, not only from fabrics, and to make companies responsible for the entire process of producing garments. Through the Greenpeace campaign, a significant turnaround is currently underway by the big fashion brands. To date, many Italian textile companies have adopted a code of self-regulation and this, together with compliance with current laws, guarantees greater protection and consumer awareness with respect to the clothes we buy. The outcome is that, according to the latest Greenpeace data, in around 15% of what is produced globally by the fashion industry, dangerous chemicals have already been or are being eliminated.
As highlighted in the Presadiretta episode, a virtuous example in Italy comprises around thirty companies, including yarn producers, dyeing companies and chemical manufacturers for the textile industry in the Prato district, which is the largest in Europe. In 2016, together with Confindustria Toscana Nord (Association of Italian Industries of Northern Tuscany), these companies joined the Detox Commitment, giving rise to the Italian Detox Consortium. This recognizes the importance of eliminating dangerous substances from the textile production cycle and follows the principles of transparency, prevention and precaution.
The positive consequences include, not only a decrease in the dangerous levels of chemicals within the district’s waterways, but the creation of a virtuous circle in which even companies that have not signed the agreement have adapted to the principles of the detox campaign, contributing, willingly or otherwise, to the sustainability of the industry throughout the region.
Although these are extremely complex issues, which involve important decisions within the field, this is undoubtedly a historical moment in which a real-life textile revolution is taking place, not just in Italy. In this regard, made of COEX fabrics are the only fireproof fabrics to have obtained recognition by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), the most important certification for textile products made with natural, organic fibres. This is in addition to the ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 certification by Beta Analytic, which confirms that made of COEX cotton has a natural composition of over 99.9%, unlike any other fireproof fibre. And, therefore, all of the other certifications obtained, attest to the rigor of an innovative technology that highlights safety as a necessity, naturalness and environmental sustainability as important values, as well as circular production, a choice that we must heed in today’s world.
COEX is not just a technology but a real-life company, created by two long-established Italian textile companies – Torcitura Padana and Zanolo – which have proven that by working in synergy towards the most cutting-edge innovations, sustainable, natural and biodegradable fashion and textiles are not only a possibility but a reality.