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WOPCOM Blog. The 2020s: Will Sustainability Issues Fuel Client Demand in the Next Decade? by Mrs. Nancy Jenkins

Sustainability, going Green, carbon impacts, and net zero are terms sprinkled liberally throughout media reports from the mainstream to the niche. But does this reporting reflect corporate marketing strategy or suggest evidence of actual changes in the ways organizations conduct business?

ARTA (The American Reusable Textile Association) has dedicated its 2020 Green Education Conference to the issue of sustainability. As we begin the next decade, it’s an ideal time to begin a conversation within the textile services industry about what we are doing right, what we can improve upon, and where we should focus.

Does Sustainability Matter?

The public’s awareness of sustainability issues has grown, as evidenced by the Collins Dictionary 2018 Word of Year — single-use. According to Collins there’s been a four-fold increase in the use of the word since 2013, due to news coverage of environmental issues. Single-use “encompasses a global movement to kick our addiction to disposable products. From plastic bags, bottles, and straws to disposable diapers, we have become more conscious of how our habits and behaviors can impact the environment,” Collins says. To date, more than 112 countries and cities around the world have agreed to curb the sale of certain single-use plastic items — and that number is only expected to grow. In the US, New York state lawmakers have approved a state-wide plastic bag ban that goes into effect March 2020. Similar bans are already in effect in California and Hawaii. Some countries are placing taxes on plastic bags in lieu of a ban.

Major fashion brands such as Gucci, Stella McCartney, Nike, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, and Everlane have committed to pursue sustainable methods for textile sourcing and production, and adopted measures to promote textile recycling, closing the loop on the millions of pounds of discarded textiles that wind up in landfills.

A Two-Pronged Challenge

Where does the textile services industry fit within these global trends? The challenge is two pronged:

  1. Our core products and services offer a sustainable option for clients, and yet we often have trouble convincing them to buy reusable products over single-use items.
  2. Like any industry, there is opportunity to improve the sustainability quotient in how products, equipment, and supplies are sourced and manufactured.

Textile Services: Sustainable, But Underappreciated

Our industry offers sustainable products that are recycled at their end of life. In the 10 years since the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA) held its Green Summit in Quebec City, ARTA has completed and published life cycle assessments (LCAs) on three products — surgical gowns*, isolation gowns, and cleanroom coveralls — with a fourth in the works on incontinence pads. This work provides scientific evidence that reusable textile items are THE more sustainable product choice over single-use disposable products.

In addition, the ARTA Board of Directors has approved the development of reports that specifically quantify the economic and environmental benefits of surgical and isolation gowns, cleanroom coveralls and, when the LCA is completed, of incontinence pads as well. These reports will allow companies to more tangibly illustrate the benefits of reusable products to their customers. And yet, while environmentally conscious consumers may be willing to pay for fashion produced in a more sustainable manner, in the B2B economy the lowest price typically wins the sale (given that any company in the textile services industry must provide quality products and services to compete). Very often, manufacturers of single-use disposable products win the sale through aggressive marketing, product rebates, and creative contracts.

But there is progress. Practice Greenhealth has 900 member hospitals committed to operating as sustainably as possible. And ARTA members have begun to leverage LCA data and educate clients on the environmental advantage reusable textiles offer.

Room for Improvement: Rethinking Supply Chain and Manufacturing Processes

As with all business in the West, any operational change must balance needs and wants with the ability to stay in business — make a profit. The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world, second only to oil. Its sustainability challenge involves multiple, interrelated, and complicated issues — from the water and chemicals used in making textiles to the labor issues posed by the 250 million-plus people who work in textile manufacturing worldwide.

So, how do we Green an established supply chain and manufacturing process that largely resides overseas?

There are no quick and easy answers. But there are universal truths: people and organizations change behaviors when they are forced to do so, either for financial or legal reasons or for fear of demise. It’s possible to envision a time (10 or 30 years from now), when a reusable product is the preferred purchase because:

  • Landfill costs are too expensive or no landfills are accepting waste.
  • Single-use products are largely banned or carry a significant tax.
  • Purchases of reusable products are eligible for tax exemptions.

The challenge at hand is to begin the conversation, build on the strengths of our reusable products, continue research that proves our case, market more effectively, and improve the sustainability of our operations as we are able.

Nancy Jenkins is the editor for Reusable Textiles and executive director for ARTA. She is the owner of Jenkins Integrated Marketing (JIM) and resides in the Kansas City Metro with her husband, parents, and two dogs.

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Risk analyses – handling linen containing 2019-nCoV VIRUS, known as CORONAVIRUS – WOPCOM Blog

Many international laundry owners would like and should be prepared on answering questions that they will get form staff as well as from their customers. The report ends with literature

Objective: To answer most questions that could be asked related to virus disinfection and risk assessment.

Method: Describe the backgrounds of the outbreak and mechanism of how the virus the virus is spread – in order to be able to appreciate the basis of the risk assessment for commercial laundries.

Introduction and backgrounds: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold –  to more severe diseases like SARS or MERS.  The new Corona virus – now known as 2019nCoV – is a new species that hasn’t been identified before in human beings. Corona viruses are transmitted between animals and people.  SARS has been transmitted from civet cats to humans, and MERS from dromedary camels to humans. Common signs of infection are : fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases then infection can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.

How does infection take place ?

The virus spreads from person to person by exposure to large respiratory droplets [from sneezing !] , by direct contact and airborne dispersal. The infection itself takes place in the respiratory tract.

Important to know: Viruses don’t have a mechanism to copy their RNA strain. And this is why they need our human cell to reproduce themselves.  A virus has keys on its surface that will dock onto the surface of human cells and release the RNA into them.  Cells that are present in our lungs have the “docking stations” [known as Ace2 receptors] and so it is that lung cells start to be infiltrated by the virus RNA material and these lung cells are no longer doing what they should be doing – making sure we can breathe.

The second photo illustrates that a newly made virion leaves the host cell and starts to look for more cells to break into.

What makes this particular new virus so dangerous is that the infected persons only start showing symptoms of being ill after as much as two weeks. But in the mean time they are already spreading the virus without notice.

All of the above illustrates that the virus needs a host cell in order to survive. 

Q1:  Is there any risk that infection takes place via fabric washing ?

The risk of getting infected in the linen transport chain + wash process is limited. Provided the laundry staff takes the standard hygienic precautions. See also below.

Q2:  What makes that the risk is very limited ?

As described earlier – viruses need a host cell to be able to “live”.

The life cycle of the Corona virus outside a host cell is very short and estimated to be less than 20 minutes.

This makes the chance of infection via linen extremely small since the transport time of the soiled linen will mostly take longer than 20 minutes.

Exception to this rule: Linen soiled with faeces might be infectious for up to 24 hours. Based on earlier experience with SARS Corona virus. 2)

Q3: Is this new virus killed /deactivated  in the wash processes that the laundry industry applies [In the theoretical event that such a virus is present in the soiled fabric] ?

Disinfection can be assured when such a wash process applied is in line with internationally approved standards.

  • Thermal disinfection – following time temperature rules
  • Chemo Thermal disinfection – applying approved / rubber stamped disinfection products and wash process
  • See also the hygiene chapters in CINET e-learning.

Note: The name of the new Corona virus – also known as Wuhan virus will be changed.  The  IDTV International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses will redefine this name in the second week of February 2020.

 

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WOPCOM Blog: Wool in the aftercare market. By Ken Cupitt

Wool fibre is a natural protein fibre, which is used for the manufacturing of garments because of its excellent fire retardancy, stain-resistance, antistatic and odour control properties along with exceptional warmth and resilience. However, wool fibres extensively shrink during washing. To overcome this problem, wool fibres, especially those used in clothing, are frequently shrink-resist treated to make them machine-washable. A range of treatments have been developed over the years to make wool fabric felt and shrink resistant. Of all the treatments the chlorination treatment followed by coating with a polyamide-epichlorohydrin resin (known as chlorine-Hercosett treatment) is undoubtedly the most effective, and the cheapest shrink-resist treatment and it is believed that approximately 70% of all wool labelled as fully machine-washable is treated by the chlorine-Hercosett process.

Usually very bright colours cannot be obtained on wool because it does not start by having a white base, and it also yellows readily in sunlight, especially when wet. As a result, markets requiring vivid colours, bright whites and pastel shades such as women’s wear, baby wear, sports and leisure wear are dominated by polyester, nylon, acrylic and cotton, and are almost totally lost to wool.

Nonetheless, around 10% of the total world production of wool is bleached before sale.

At point of sale, some degree of brightness is desirable even if it is lost early during wear and a great deal of bleaching is carried out as a top-up whitening process in the “scour” which is the preparation process for wool. Normally Hydrogen peroxide is added to the last rinse in preparation and then some degree of bleaching takes place in the drier. This is done because the whiteness of scoured wool is taken into consideration in determining the value of the final fibre product before making up into garments.

Oxidative bleaching – In the fibre preparation oxidative bleaching usually gives the best whitening effect but oxidatively bleached wool yellows in use more readily than unbleached wool. Oxidative bleaching is usually carried out with Hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate. Oxidative bleaching is also carried out in the presence of stabilisers, and activators. Oxidative bleaching always damages wool. – Bleaching with hydrogen peroxide can be carried out by batch or continuous methods, and at room or even higher temperatures. Why do they do this? Hydrogen peroxide is relatively inexpensive, does not release toxic chemicals or unpleasant odours, and does not cause corrosion of the preparation equipment making it a popular choice. The only by products released by this process are its de-composition into water and oxygen. When using hydrogen peroxide on fibres that are sensitive to oxidation, such as wool or cotton, damage can be, and in practice is usually, kept to a minimum provided that the bleaching is carried out carefully under the recommended conditions, in terms of pH, temperature etc.

Stabilisation of peroxide – Why do they need to add Stabilisers to wool bleaching solutions?

In the absence of stabilisers wool is yellowed by hydrogen peroxide. The reason being is that wool usually contains small amounts of transition metal ions that catalyse decomposition of hydrogen peroxide and prevent it from reacting with the wool. Stabilisers are metal complexing (sequestering) agents such as sodium silicate, EDTA and phosphates. Sodium silicate can be used as a stabiliser for peroxide bleaching because apart from its ability to sequester transition metal ions, it acts as a buffer at the proper pH of 10.5 -11.5, but insoluble deposits can be formed on the goods as well as on the dyeing equipment. These deposits can give the fabric a harsh handle, and may lead to unlevel dyeing, and many proprietary stabilisers used are formulated with complexing agents and buffers ‘built in’ and these consists of a combination of organic and inorganic salts in aqueous solution which enables acid hydrogen peroxide solutions to be used for bleaching wool at neutral or acid pH.

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WOPCOM Blog: Quality and Service. Are You A Quality Cleaner? By Ken Cupitt

Put this question to the vast majority of cleaners and very few would not make a positive response. However, after a period of many years, and following well over a thousand in depth quality audits in unit shops and factory operations, many cleaners would be horrified to see the blatantly obvious nature of some faults on garments awaiting collection that have been observed. This is not to say that cleaners do not make a real effort to establish good quality standards, most do, but do not have the essential systematic inspection procedures in place at all the critical stages in the process, to ensure the highest quality standards are achieved.

It is worth considering the impact that serious faults can have on your business revenue. Taking the case of a regular customer who has had their garment returned with an obvious stain that had been pointed out at reception on depositing the item; no explanation has been given for the unsatisfactory result on collection. The customer may be so disappointed that they then take the garment to a competitor who removes the stain making sure to inform the customer how easy it was! The original cleaner is unlikely to know why the regular customer was lost. Most cleaners will be familiar with this kind of scenario many having had garments returned to them from a competitor. Being realistic we need to ask ourselves how many of my complaints are my competitors receiving?

Making A Start
So how do we go about raising standards?
The first step is to establish what we mean by “Quality” There are many definitions such as “a degree or level of excellence” and there are of course the ISO quality management systems. From the point of view quality this represents not just our standards of cleanliness and cleaning, spotting and finishing but the overall level of service we deliver to our customers as high standards of cleaning. Stain removal and finish are unlikely on their own to promote ongoing improvements in turnover.

Untidy, poorly trained counter staff can, on their own, can lead to a serious loss of business and for some cleaners there is also a need to take a long hard look at their shop front. A drycleaners/wet cleaners shop must look like a place where clothes are cleaned!
Unfortunately some do not meet this simple criteria and many potential customers may be discouraged from entering by the outward appearance of their premises. It comes down to this if our shop is not clean and bright how can our customers be confident that we are competent to clean their clothes?
We are in the appearance business and if you really want to know how to sell cleaning services go and take a look at the cosmetics counter in almost any major high street store. The staff are all selling their products in terms of their personal appearance – we need to take a leaf out of their book.

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WOPCOM Blog: New Textile Care Market Emerging? Rental of Private Apparel, by Dr. Geert Böttger

The textile rental concept is meanwhile approx. 130 years old, and it has proven to be a successful business model in the b2b world. In the last years we have seen increasingly new businesses, which focus on the rental of private apparel – b2c. Most of the offers include free cleaning and some even altering to individual measures. Can this be an emerging market for professional textile care companies?

Most of the rental companies for private textiles are currently in Asia, most notably in India and China, and in the US (see table). Even apparel brands like American Eagle have established a rental business. You can browse the American Eagle offer as an interesting example under www.aestyledrop.com.

How it works
Most of the private apparel rental models work like this:
(1) the consumer can choose favourable styles online
(2) they need to subscribe to the service with a subscription scheme. These subscription schemes can be monthly flat fees for a fixed number of styles, or more differentiated packages, which tie the number of rented styles and time to different fees.
(3) the chosen items are sent to the customer, They can be new, or used, but need to be “like new”.
(4) after the defined time they can be sent back or alternatively the customer can buy the garment with a meaningful discount.
(5) very important: the customer doesn`t have to do the textile care, neither taking the garments to the dry cleaner, nor to launder them.

Changing Consumer Habits
These models are reflecting trends in society and consumer behaviour. They reflect and support changing consumer minds. The authors of the very recommendable McKinsey Report „State of Fashion 2019“ are stating two fundamental trends at young apparel consumers:
(1) Research shows that the average person today buys 60 percent more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago. However, consumers keep that clothing for only half as long as they used to. One in seven consumers consider it a fashion faux-pas to be photographed in an outfit twice. Simply put, young people today crave newness, and these cohorts are much more likely to embrace churn in their wardrobes.
(2) At the same time younger generations are more interested in sustainable clothing than older consumers. Rental, resale and refurbishment models lengthen the product lifecycle while offering the newness consumers desire.

We like to add here another aspect of consumer habits, based on several Cinet research overviews:
(3) Textile care is for private households increasingly a convenience service, which allows consumers to spend more time to higher valued activities in family life, career or hobby. Accordingly most of the rental models feature as a key pilar of the offer textile care for free, when returning the styles.

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WOPCOM Blog: Water: Machine Motor Drive Control – Understanding the jargon!, by Ken Cupitt

When we buy a new machine we seldom ask about the drive of the electrical motors or the technology of the electrical control system but technology has improved the performance, plus reduced the energy costs in use, and helped to avoid the cause of future machine failures. We may be told our beautiful new machine has a micro processor control and because of this is more efficient but how is this possible?

Almost all of the electrical motors used on equipment in our industry use AC Motors and in the last thirty years these are now being controlled by a device referred to as an AC Drive, or a VFD. A variable-frequency drive (VFD), other names being adjustable-frequency drive (AFD), variable-voltage/variable frequency (VVVF) drive, variable speed drive (VSD), micro drive or inverter drive, as well as AC Drive and these are all types of adjustable-speed drive used in electro-mechanical drive systems to control AC motor speed and torque by varying motor input frequency and voltage. AC Drives are used in our industry in many applications ranging from small equipment to large complex systems. It is thought that about 25% of the world’s electrical energy is consumed by electric motors in industrial applications, which can be made more efficient when using these VFDs in drive load service, and these have been developed over the last four decades, with power electronics technology reducing both cost and size. With this has come improved performance through advances in semi-conductor switching devices, control techniques, control hardware and software.

All electrical motors consume electricity so need a corresponding amount of energy to provide the torque or speed needed. If the torque or speed is too high or low, mechanical controls, such as the VFD, are used to control the output. A motor’s speed should match exactly what is required by the process; otherwise the result is inefficiency with a lot of wasted energy. Not being able to control motors can mean a lot of energy gets wasted which isn’t good for any business and a way to control these motors, which not only saves energy, but improves productivity and reduces maintenance costs, is to use an inverter.

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WOPCOM Blog: CWS-Repositioning – Focus On Responsible Business Development, by Dr. Geert Böttger

Since some months CWS implemented it’s repositioning very visible. Light pink and coral red signal flashy that CWS is changing. Away with the modest red and blue of the old CWS boco logo! Changed to extremely visible pink and coral red blocks as background for a straight black CWS and service messages. Also, CWS does not stand any longer for the abbreviation of the founder’s name. Now CWS means now: Clean Well Safe. The claim is the name.

CWS is changing severely. The integration of the acquired Initial business has been a major step for CWS boco in 2017, 2018, and is still ongoing, but the new corporate image and revealed in 2019 goes beyond that and is more than just a change in image and colours. It marks a new strategy.

On the one hand all the brands under the CWS-boco umbrella have been unified. No longer boco, Initial, to name only the most prominent of the approx. 20 brands, which the CWS branding team was counting. On the other hand, the new name and its claim Clean Well Safe is opening up for a wide range of possible services and sets out a strategic guideline for the future, which is thoroughly based on two ideas. (1) offering system solutions and (2) sustainability as backbone for the whole company development. The recently published CSR-report 2018/2019 from CWS is spelling that out in details of 2018.

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WOPCOM Blog: Water: Its Problems in a Laundry and What To Do About It!, by Ken Cupitt

There is now greater attention paid to product quality when items are being washed and hygiene as well as safety is given much more attention than perhaps even the customer appreciates. In general the amount of water available is reducing and its price increasing and we must use our technological skill to be as economical as possible with its usage. There is an increasing awareness of environmental conservation and we have a duty to conform with legislation regarding the quality and quantity of effluent we discharge into our sewers. The quality of raw water supplied by the water authorities is considered high in terms of purity for human consumption, but there are however, few waters which can be used for washing in laundry terms without some form of additional treatment.

Water falls in the form of rain, or snow, on to the ground soaking into it, or trickling over it, to form streams and rivers. On this journey the water comes into contact with many different types of rock formation, any of which may be water soluble. Water which flows very slowly, or stagnates, has an opportunity to dissolve other kinds of impurity, for example the products of decaying vegetation. From these examples it can be seen that no water that is available from natural sources can be said to be pure, although the presence of these impurities does not render it unfit for human consumption.

In terms of washing some of the impurities acceptable in drinking quality terms can have detrimental properties when applied from a laundry view.

Iron, or compound of iron, can be dissolved from certain types of rock and the effect in a washing process is to turn white items yellow and to produce discoloration on coloureds. In the case of woolens the yellow and discoloration can occur at very low levels of iron contamination. It is quite common to find naturally occurring soft waters containing iron, and this requires a special treatment or aeration and filtration. As the water is heated, any calcium and magnesium bicarbonates present decompose to form the carbonates and carbon dioxide. The impurities present in a water for laundry use are important from two points of view. In the first place they decide whether the water is suitable for use without treatment; if it is not, they also decide the kind of treatment that is required.

Hardness is probably the most important impurity. It is now generally recognised that the laundry use of water with a hardness greater than 6-7 degrees (100 ppm) is indefensible, both from the points of view of the quality of work obtainable and also of economy. All hard water can be softened, and the softening process always makes for real economy, since hard water causes such great waste of washing materials in the washing process. Hard water does not give a precipitate with synthetic detergents but it gives rise to a chalk-like loading with the usual laundry alkalis.

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WOPCOM Blog: Soil Contamination by PERC

Worldwide Perc is widely used as the main solvent for Textile Cleaning by professionals. However, in many countries dry cleaners are not aware about the risks for human beings and the environment this (might) bring(s). In many countries there is no appropriate legislation or legislation is is not maintained. The results will be devastating for the future sustainability of dry-cleaning companies.

For this reason CINET has developed the promotion & PR of implementing Best Practices in professional dry cleaning! The Global Best Practices Awards Program has been set up to stimulate sustainable processing in the PTC industry and also to demonstrate capability of the industry to do so worldwide.

Adapting Best Practices in the professional textile services and textile cleaning, has proven to bring the best sustainable solution for textile cleaning possible:

  • 24% lower CO2 exhaust
  • 35% – 80% less water usage

Resulting in 3-5 times better performance compared to domestic textile cleaning. This requires though also to clean up historic contamination, when present.

The full BOSATEX article demonstrates that a proactive approach in soil remediation is possible and paid off in the Netherlands.

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For further info please contact the CINET secretariat at cinet@cinet-online.com or call +31 344 650 430

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WOPCOM Blog: Untapped Potential of Social Media, by Dr. Geert Böttger

Today, in many economic sectors, Social Media have developed into a standard marketing topic. Not only for the retail sector by targeting customer reach, but as an important tool for B2B communication, too. However, throughout small and medium sized companies, we observe some uncertainty regarding the advantages in view of clear results. Those companies are technically still developing their marketing online potential. Yet, communication between companies is clearly shifting towards online. Let’s have a look at the relevance of social media as part of online communication for the textile service sector.

B2B Communication Changes

During the last years, communication between companies has changed remarkably and this trend will be an ongoing one. Digital communication technologies are decisively influencing the presentation and dialogue mode, including the B2B sector. Regarding sales, for instance, there is simply more time for decisions by purchasers to choose vendors of possible providers, because the internet offers previous choice options. A study by Millward Brown Digital ‘B2B Path to Purchases’, analysing the purchase mode of companies in 2014, states that companies already had had some 12 searches before they decided to contact a specific provider. Searching periods – without directly contacting a provider – are increasing, because the professionally reliable searching conditions on the internet are improving. The ways of personnel acquisition have also been changed completely by use of internet.

Social Media Exploring

Of course, the company website is the main part of its internet presence. There are lots of additional communication options though, which can be helpful for a diversity of company targets. Social Media are part of these options, playing an increasing role also in the B2B market. Many companies have started to try social media. We have analysed more than 80 textile service companies and their suppliers and noticed that some 50% are offering  additional links to their social media presences (see table “Social Media by Selected Companies”).

41 companies with social media presences are using 3.4 different social media platforms. With 35 companies, Facebook is in the lead. LinkedIn and YouTube are following with 32 and 29 company accounts, Twitter reached 22, Xing 11, Instagram 9 and Pinterest 2 company accounts. Smaller social media networks have been neglected, as well as private accounts of company staff.

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