Advancing Sustainable Practices in the Textile Industry: Insights from the 6th Annual Conference

A Recap of the Textile and Sustainable Industry Symposium at UPC

On November 10th, the 6th edition of the Textile and Sustainable Industry Symposium took place via an online meeting platform. Organized by Enric Carrera, former director of Intexter, these annual symposiums have become a pivotal gathering for industry experts. The event, conducted in Spanish, featured presentations and discussions showcasing the commitment of UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia) to sustainability in the textile industry and its alignment with innovative approaches.

UPC’s Commitment to Sustainable Textiles

The symposium commenced with insights from key figures, including Diana Cayuela (current director of Intexter), Josefina Antonijuan (Vice-Rector of Social Responsibility and Equality at UPC), Jordi Ballart (Mayor of Terrassa), and Joan Romero (Executive Director of ACCIÓ). Their opening remarks emphasized the crucial moment of transition the industry is facing, underscoring the need for collective efforts to propel sustainability forward.

Main Objectives

The primary objectives outlined during the symposium were:

1. Deepening Knowledge in Mechanical Recycling: Exploring mechanical recycling and pre-treatment processes for fibers.
2. Intensifying Research on Chemical Recycling: Investigating chemical recycling
and its commercial applications.

Symposium Highlights

For those who couldn’t attend or are non-Spanish speakers, here’s a summary of the presentations by researchers and industry experts:

1. Challenges and Opportunities of the European Strategy for Sustainable Textiles

David Allo, Sustainability Manager at TEXFOR, delved into the European textile strategy, the Green Deal, and its various components. The strategy aims for all textiles in the EU to be durable and recyclable by 2030, emphasizing eco-friendly designs, combating microplastics, and fostering global sustainable textile chains.

2. From Waste to Value

Sylvia Calvo, Founder of Sylvia Calvo BCN, shared her circular system of reusing jute sacks from coffee transport to create clothing, showcasing the social impact of her brand.

3. Facilitating Recycling through Automated Disassembly

María Duque Fernández, Head of R&D for Disassembly at RESORTECS, presented innovations in garment recycling, including Smart Stitch and Smart Disassembly technologies, designed for easy disassembly and efficient recycling.

4. Home to Home: Circular Economy Applied to Workwear

Anna Rovira Conesa, COO of TECHNITIGER, discussed their commitment to sustainability, aiming to increase the use of recycled materials and promote circular economy principles.

5. Advances in Mechanical Recycling of Textile Waste within the RECYWASTEX Project – I. Algaba, M. Ardanuy, V. Buscio, F. Cano, E. Carrera, D. Cayuela, M. Riba, H. Ventura (INTEXTER)

The team explained the project’s process of recycling textile waste to create new products using mechanical recycling equipment at the university’s facilities.

6. Training for the Green Transition in the Textile Industry: New Open-Access Teaching Material from the ADDTEX Project – H. Ventura, H. Oliver-Ortega, M. Ardanuy (INTEXTER)

The presentation delved into the project, its participating institutions, and the identified training needs to address the current advanced state of the textile industry. Key competencies highlighted included innovation in materials, processes, products, and green and digital transition.

7. Hydrogen Generation during Electrochemical Treatment of Textile Wastewater – D. Cuesta i Mota, V. López, L. Canals (INTEXTER)

Dídac presented a forward-looking approach for textile finishing processes, aiming to achieve a circular model through electrochemical treatment, emphasizing various experiments and their starting points.

8. Textile Sludge Valorization: A Challenge Toward a More Sustainable System – F. Tuci, V. Buscio, V. Lopez-Grimau, X. Guimerà (INTEXTER)

Francesca discussed the analysis of centralized and decentralized systems, focusing on anaerobic digestion of textile sludge and evaluating the impact of mixing urban and textile wastewater on the process.

9. Evaluation of Monomaterial Textile Waste for Cement-Based Composite Reinforcement – H. Oliver-Ortega, M. Álvarez, J. Claramunt, M. Ardanuy, H. Ventura (INTEXTER)

This project’s goal is to develop sustainable construction materials using post-consumer textile fibers, addressing challenges related to cement alkalinity and finding suitable fiber types.

10. Photovoltaic Self-Consumption and High-Capacity Batteries for the Textile Industry – Luis Navarro, Adviser at Cubierta Solar

Luis highlighted the advantages of energy storage in the textile sector, emphasizing the oversizing of photovoltaic installations to store surplus energy and achieve grid independence.

11. PAGESVALENTI: 70 Years Regenerating Cotton Fibers, Looking to the Future – Josep Pagés, Commercial and Sustainability Director at Pagès Valentí S.A.

Josep provided insights into the company’s 70-year journey, its current expansion, and its alignment with EU strategies for circularity and sustainability in textile products.


Conclusion and Future Outlook

The symposium concluded with remarks from Josep Maria Mestres (TEXFOR President), Enric Carrera, and Xavier Roca (Director of ESEIAAT, UPC Terrassa). Josep Maria shared positive news about European funds supporting the textile industry amidst challenges, while plans for the 7th edition were unveiled: a hybrid format, blending online and in-person participation.

The event highlighted the industry’s commitment to sustainable practices, innovation, and the collective effort required for a greener future in textile manufacturing.

These conferences give visibility and knowledge to the UPC within the field of textile sustainability, which strengthens the role of the university within the FEA-VEE project and the impact it has on it.

For more information, visit the official symposium link.