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Loftex, a leading towel manufacturer in China, gives an insight into its STeP by Oeko-Tex certification, becoming a best practice customer and its next steps on the sustainable production journey.

“Loftex has a mandate to continuously improve its factory and product environmental impact and overall sustainability.

"We take great pride in our achievements as demonstrated by our Oeko-Tex certification. This sets us on the path towards our ultimate goal, which is a circular economy.”

What are your reasons for becoming STeP certified?

STeP is one of the first accreditation systems with global awareness and credibility in the end to end sustainability area. Besides asking for sustainability, our consumers now demand authentication. Oeko-Tex certification is the gold standard which delivers a clear message to consumers.

Our top management reviewed the marketplace for independent, verifiable, recognisable and effective certifying bodies, and found only Oeko-Tex to be suitable for both retail and consumer acceptance.

STeP certification has the most comprehensive and dynamic analysis of a business' extent of sustainable management and its evaluation and scoring system is one of the most competent and independent in this area.

STeP helps to determine our positioning on sustainability management and shows the areas for future improvement so we can establish a best-practice textile company that demonstrates great social responsibilities in all aspects of manufacturing.

What innovative technologies are installed in your facilities to enhance efficiency, save resources, reduce consumption, encourage circularity, and reduce costs?

- Innovative technology to eliminate the use of PVA in the spinning process resulting in less water, electricity and steam consumption and less pollution to the environment

- Recycled PET programme as a better substitute for traditional PET

- Upgraded air conditioning impellers to reduce resistance and installed frequency converters to reduce power consumption

- Recycling of condensed water from dyeing and drying processes

- Wastewater treatment upgrading program which doubled the daily treatment capacity

- New comprehensive Chemical Management System which incorporates evaluation, purchasing, testing, application and storage

How does the Oeko-Tex certification scheme help you in communicating your success in sustainable production with your stakeholders and can it help in communicating your performance and target setting with your buyers?

We work with our retail partners, many of whom are located in Australia to include Oeko-Tex certification logos on the product packaging and have led the home textiles industry in this implementation.

These actions have the combined benefit of educating both the retailer and consumer.

What are the major challenges in getting your facilities STeP certified? And how did you overcome these?

Having a clear understanding of the standards and collecting the required information. Oeko-Tex requires numerous data and parameters for evaluation and it covers all aspects of the business.

To ensure all information is collected and monitored continuously, a special task force was established to focus on various projects.

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What are the next steps for your sustainable production journey?

We aim to reduce our energy consumption by 20% by 2030 (compared to 2016).

Wastewater Treatment:
- Proposed total wastewater recycling capacity = 5,000 tons/day

Solar Power & Generating Electricity:
- Evaluating structural roof modifications to install more photovoltaic power and heat collection

Sustainable manufacturing and products:
- Eco-friendly sustainable fibres which are earth friendly
- Dye-free products which reduce chemical usage while saving water and energy
- Plant dye technology (PDT)
- Low temperature dyeing technology

Sustainable Supply Chain Management:
- Share our energy efficiency practices to our supply chain, encourage them to promote sustainable development and set a priority sourcing policy
- Use NGO IPE tools to standardize our supply chain and correct environmental violations

Is there an increasing demand from retailers & brands in Australia and the other countries you sell to for Made In Green by Oeko-Tex and STeP certification?

Yes definitely. In recent years the issue of sustainability has grown at a great pace in the USA, Europe and Australia.

Nowadays retailers can see that sustainable development is an important source of competitive advantage.

As a result more and more retailers are asking their suppliers to achieve more sustainable business models and STeP certification sets a perfect standard for businesses who want to contribute in the area.

Loftex qualified for the Made In Green label in 2015, and has introduced it on packaging for almost all of its top retail partners in the US and Australia since then. We find recognition and demand have increased rapidly in the last few years.

How do you comment on your experience in working with Testex in this STeP certification?

Testex Shanghai has provided us with comprehensive support and professional advice throughout our accreditation process.

The training program and regular education sessions they held have greatly facilitated us in understanding the requirements.

For more information go to: http://www.testex.com/en/

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