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LAYERED SUSTAINABILITY

Vertical textile giant Santanderina tackles issue from many angles

Posted May 27, 2021

 

By Rachel Raineri

International correspondent

 

Recently listed as one of the most prominent players in the post-consumer/recycled yarns manufacturers by Industry Growth Insights, Santanderina Group is an example within the textile sector that exhibits multi-dimensional sustainability. Sustainability and circularity are notions with ever-increasing importance in the textile sector.

 

Alas, like most things, the more we highlight and learn about them, the more layers we realize are left to uncover. One of Europe's leading textile Industry groups, Santanderina Group incorporates sustainability in multiple facets.

 

Inbred in their company mission, creating value sustainably and responsibly is the driving force of Santanderina Group, and it is visibly woven within the processes and products of the company. First, its production system consists of designing, spinning, weaving, dyeing, finishing, coating, printing and making up, making it a complete and vertical system.

 

Secondly, each of these processes is guided by a sustainability mindset by way of resource consumption, recycling and circular design. Finally, the company produces products that both confront the current issue of excessive plastic waste as well as work to reduce the amount of plastic pollution created in the future.

 

Textil Santanderina, the company focused on yarns, fabrics, dyes and finishes in the realm of cotton and cotton blends, was born in 1923. Having changed hands of leadership a few times, and consolidating nearly 100 years of experience in the sector, the company now mainly focuses on ready-to-wear, labor and protection market garments, and technical textiles.

 

Textil Santanderina forms part of the Santanderina Group, an international industry group formed by 10 high-capacity production plants that produces 5 million garments, 30 million meters of fabric, and 30 thousand tons of yarn per year. As one of Spain's textile giants, they also seek to be leaders of sustainability in the textile industry.

 

Vertical traceability

 

In one display of circularity, Textil Santanderina has a complete, vertical production system. This closed-loop offers complete traceability along with the opportunity to rethink processes and design more effectively. The aspect of traceability, beyond ensuring ethical and sustainable material use and processes,  allows them to develop a product step by step. Thus, they are able to produce a product at any stage of the process with any type of finish, making it possible to create solutions for many types of industry.

 

José A Mazorra, in charge of Corporate Social Responsibility at Textil Santanderina, also informs that the company is currently going through a "Digital Transformation" with a "main objective being ... to have a transparent and traceable system especially available for our clients." Traceability adds a sense of accountability in production.

 

Tracing the product also allows for changes and adjustments to be made in early and all stages of the production system to increase value and sustainability as new technologies become available. In this way, the company focuses efforts on eco-design, employing design teams that centralize their focus around lifecycle and circularity. Within the plant, the company has been able to "define fiber, yarn and fabric recycling processes which [incorporate material] that until recently was pre-consumer waste." Creating processes to recycle waste material effectively eliminates it as waste.

 

Fibers, yarns, fabrics and finishes

 

Santanderina Group offers a multitude of materials made of cotton and cotton blends, as well as innovative materials using technical fibers. They also produce a range of dyes and finishes with various functions. In all of their products, their efforts are focused on "developing a new ecosystem" that establishes socially and environmentally responsible textile products.

 

The R/Turn project displays their innovative materials that are created to be both healthier and more ethical. In terms of raw material, the choice is either organic, sustainably grown, recycled or produced in an eco-friendlier manner. The Recycled Cotton, for example, is made from a blend of pre- and post-consumer waste, whereas the COOLMAX EcoMade is made from 97% recycled PET bottles.

 

In their yarn production processes, they reduce material and water consumption, along with using fewer chemicals and solvents. The Lenzing EcoVero, for example, is created with more ecological regenerated cellulose methods, reducing harmful chemical and water use. They also have programs like The Better Cotton Initiative, a nonprofit that works with farmers to promote respectful and sustainable cultivation of renewable resources.

 

In the area of finishes and dyes, R/Turn products focus on using renewable resources, consuming less water and energy, producing less carbon emissions and avoiding harmful substances, all while exhibiting quality, functionality, good hand feel, washing fastness, and comfort. Iris, for example, is a reactive, sulfur-based dyeing process which is free of arylamines. It achieves vibrant, solid colors and reduces carbon emissions, water and energy use.

 

Additionally, Naqua ecofinish, containing 63% renewable, plant-based resources, is a fluorocarbon-free way to achieve water and stain repellency on a garment. The large range of materials, dyes and finishes allow for the development of a wide range of functional garments with less negative impact on the environment.

 

The plastic issues

 

Among those products, two innovative and sustainability-centered projects can be highlighted which depict the company's multi-dimensional implementation of sustainability. As companies are striving toward more circular production processes, they must work to solve the current plastic waste problem as well as design the problem out of the future.

 

SeaQual Yarn, a collaboration between Angles Textil and Textil Santanderina, is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles – however, 10% of the bottles specifically come from the ocean, effectively taking post-consumer waste and converting it into Upcycled Marine Plastic. The yarn is part of an overall initiative which involves a collaborative community with the aim of cleaning the oceans.

 

The plastic bottles collected from the ocean come from clean-up initiatives, NGOs and fishermen's guilds who separate the plastic that is collected in their fishing nets. The plastic bottles are then ground up, turned into pellets and melt-spun into the yarn. When blended with recycled or organic cotton or cotton alternatives, it results in breathable, high-quality polyester.

 

Another important collaborative R+D+i project in which Textil Santanderina takes part is FiberClean. Currently, a prevalent problem with synthetic textiles is the release of microfibers from a garment during its lifetime. FiberClean's objective is to diminish the presence of microfibers throughout the whole value chain, which means taking a multi-dimensional approach.

 

FiberClean is focused on developing fibers, yarns and products with reduced microfibers, as well as developing new technologies in the realm of washing and water treatment to reduce microfiber release. In this way, Textil Santanderina is actively and continuously focused on integrating sustainability in both reducing the current amount of waste and developing solutions to produce less waste in years to come.

 

Through its focus on traceability, sustainable production processes, and innovation technologies and materials, it is evident why Textil Santanderina is one of Europe's leaders in the textile industry, with a company vision of being a leader at world level. By approaching the concepts of sustainability and circularity at a systems level and in multiple different facets, this company demonstrates how functional, ethical and sustainable materials can be produced on a large scale.

 

With sustainability integrated into each aspect of Textil Santanderina it is clear to see that Juan Parés, director, means it when he says, “We are what we do and how we do it,” and we can, therefore, hope to see continued development in the sustainability of textiles through Textil Santanderina.

 

About the author

 

Rachel Raineri is a textile engineer and lover of expression. She believes there is no person who cannot show you a new perspective and delights in finding uncommon connections throughout and within life. In fact, human connection is her favorite reason for being alive! She is passionate about sustainability and has experience in integrated wearables and language teaching. After graduating from the N.C. State Wilson College of Textiles in 2018, she has spent the last two years in Valencia, Spain. Lately, Raineri is in absolute raptures over mycelium, the incredible network root system of mushrooms. To learn more you can read her articles on her webpage https://www.rachelraineri.com/.

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