Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020 - 52

FOCUS

ADVANCED TEXTILES

WHAT WE ARE SEEING IS AN INDUSTRYWIDE PUSH TO TAILOR THE SUSTAINABILITY
THOUGHT PROCESS TO EACH CUSTOMER'S
MARKET, THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS AND
THE NEEDS OF THEIR BUSINESS. WE
WANT TO MEET THE INDUSTRY WHERE
THEY ARE, SO WE ARE FORMULATING OUR
CONVERSATIONS AROUND THIS PUSH.
DAVID SMITH, MILLIKEN & CO.

SOLUTIONS AND REWARDS
On November 6, Time magazine was one
of many publications around the globe to
announce that India's capital, New Delhi, was
a "climate emergency" with pollution levels
"off the charts," and as such, the government
had announced a public health emergency.
The previous day, the newspaper India Today
reported that New Delhi was not the worst
offender, ranked at number fourteen in the
country's list of most polluted cities.
One of the most innovative solutions
to recently emerge has come from the
startup Graviky Labs, which was named a
winner of the 2019 GM prize on Circular
Economy. The GM prize is just one part of
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) Solve® platform, which is focused
on finding solutions for the world's most
pressing problems. MIT Solve works to help
tech entrepreneurs gain support to bring their
big ideas to market.
In 2019, one of Solve's four Global
Challenges focused on the circular economy.
Anirudh Sharma, from Graviky Labs, was
named a prize winner for the company's AirInk™ technology that converts air pollution to
industrial-grade carbon black inks, effectively
turning a problem into its own solution.
A warehouse in New Delhi stores
an estimated three tons of carbon-rich
atmospheric particle matter (PM2.5),
produced when fossil fuels burn. Using
proprietary technology, Graviky Labs
converts these into hydrated industrialgrade pigments and inks: Air-Ink. This is
52 REVIEW FEBRUARY 2020

the beginning, as the carbon black can then
be used in printing across many materials
and applications including textiles.
Spartanburg, S.C.-based Milliken & Co.
was named one of the world's most ethical
companies by the Ethisphere® Institute in
2018 for its commitment to environmental
stewardship, the health and safety of workers,
and the future of its communities. With
almost 9,000 worldwide suppliers and 43
manufacturing facilities, Milliken cannot reach
its sustainable and ethical goals overnight.
The company's achievements, built up
over years of engagement, include:
*100 million plastic water bottles diverted
from landfills through the use of REPREVE®
recycled fibers
*The use of a water-based high-tack chemistry
applied to its ready-to-use tire reinforcement
fabrics that make them both lighter in use
and safer for workers during production
Working with stakeholders is a cornerstone
of the company's environmental success.
Global metrics are important, but there's
more to the story, as Milliken's David Smith,
senior vice president, Engineered Performance
Products, explains: "What we are seeing is an
industry-wide push to tailor the sustainability
thought process to each customer's market,
their own customers and the needs of their
business. We want to meet the industry
where they are, so we are formulating our
conversations around this push."
The drivers and narratives in each of the
examples given here are quite different,
which indicates that there is no single route
to success. For Milliken, "The synergy of
both technology and process is where we
find the most success," says Smith. "As
material scientists, we know that machines,
manpower, methods and materials are highly
integrated. It is hard to separate these four
elements, so we find that technology and
process go hand in hand. As technology
advances, processes can and will change."
For manufacturers and their stakeholders
too, a willingness to change is essential to
achieving circularity.
Marie O'Mahony is an industry consultant, author
and academic based in Toronto, Ont., Canada.
She is the author of several books on advanced
and smart textiles, and a visiting professor at the
Royal College of Art (RCA), London.



Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020

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