Break the barriers hampering circular textile industry.

The Department of Science and  Technology (DOST) on Monday, September 24, hurled this challenge to Filipino and foreign delegates of the 5th InnoSight Workshop to overcome the barriers hampering the development of circular textile industry.

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DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano issued the challenge as she spoke before the two-day event at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex, Pasay City.

The Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) headed by Director Celia B. Elumba and Taiwan’s Industrial Textile Research Institute (ITRI) co-organized the conference which  revolved around “Nature to Value toward a Circular Textile Industry.”

Nazareth-Manzano, who delivered the opening remark, welcomed the participants to the Philippines.

“Let us maximize this opportunity to discuss and align our plans and policies, share our best practices, learn from each other, and together come up with possible solutions/strategies to break the barriers towards the development of circular textile industry,” she said.

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ITRI created the Innosight Workshop in 2013 as a platform for dialogue for research and development (R&D) among leaders and industry.

The workshop’s fourth iteration in 2017 started to explore Circular Economy with theme “Design for a Circular Economy.”

Delegates from Asia came from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and others. Delegates arrived at a consensus on drafting an Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC) called “APEC Circular Economy Platform” aimed a promoting the CE concept within Asia-Pacific community, focusing first on three model industries, textile, ICT waste management, and agro-waste management.

Elumba explained how the 5th Innosight Workshop came to be held in the Philippines.

In an interview with SDN — Scitech and Digital News, she recalled that PTRI was invited to the 4th InnoSight Workshop: “Design for Circular Economy” and got the idea about holding the next workshop back home.

Now the 5th InnoSight Workshop, the PTRI head said, is “very significant. We decided that its is a good event to host in our country for many, many reasons.”

Elumba cited a few of the reasons.

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“One of them is that there are many things we can do for our own development. Our (textile industry) development is still very young, we are in the nascent stage in the textile side. We can hardly call our own textile industry except for our weavers.

“And when you say that we don’t have a source for our yarns, we are still importing our yarns from other countries,” she pointed out.

Nazareth-Manzano noted the workshop’s importance as “it bolsters our shared commitment and responsibility towards achieving a sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region — particularly on developing circular economies to ensure a better future and better quality of life for everyone.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Reiner Hengstmann from Germany, founder of Go4more Global, noted that the the world produces 100 billion garments every year.

He added that eight million tons of wastes end up on the ocean every year.

What, then, is “circular economy?”

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Simply stated, ‘circular economy” is a “regenerative model” of doing things.

Here’s a one take from http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org:

“Looking beyond the current-take-make-dispose extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits.

“It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.”

The foundation pointed out that circular models have three principles, such as design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; and, regenerate natural systems.

Elumba hinted at these ways of doing things, as far as the local textile industry is concerned.

The goal for holding the conference in the Philippines, she said, is that the textile industry will be better if its attuned to circular designs, or circular process, or circular process of doing things, which means that no wastes are being produced; that wastes are cycled back either to the soil, or for use in technology.

“So, this (circular economy) should be in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the whole world,” said Elumba.

One may recall that the United Nations in 2015 gathered world leaders at the UN Headquarters in New York City, United States, to adopt 17 SDGs “to achieve several extraordinary things by 20130: end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, and protect the planet.”

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Nazareth-Manzano noted at the workshop that everybody is working to achieve the 17 SDGs, “primarily to eliminate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure share benefits from lasting peace and prosperity.”

She emphasized that when focus is on the textile industry, the DOST undersecretary said the workshop will be highly relevant to SDG 12 — Responsible Consumption and Production.

“Resource conservation, waste minimization and utilization, and process optimization are some of the known strategies that we are exploring to our current industry set-up to reduce ecological footprint,” she said.

Nazareth-Manzano said the DOST is doing its share in this regard, saying the agency has explored the use of agricultural wastes and by-products as source of secondary raw materials, of which the PTRI had developed technologies to utilized waste materials from pineapple and banana fruit harvesting to produce yarn.

She further noted the use of waste materials out of coffee bean processing.

“Also, the use of waste materials from coffee bean processing as source of natural dye for textiles is another remarkable initiative of (PTRI) to maximize the use of resources,” she said.

Elumba said the concept of circular economy has long been in existent when leaders started talking about how to help our planet.

She believes that circular processes can help the Philippines’ still nascent textile industry.

Saying there are already initiatives towards circularity, Nazareth-Manzano indicated that achieving this is not the simple.

“Total transformation will demand for a change in our business models, strategies and mindset — rethinking and redesigning the way we produce things, developing products that can be “made to be made again” and powering the system with renewable energy,” the DOST official said. (EKU)