Energy and environment: Raw materials and material cycles
Textiles are manufactured from fibres, the majority of which have to be imported. Efforts are currently being made both at the international level and within Switzerland to render fibre production – and in particular cotton cultivation – more sustainable. Swiss Textiles welcomes these efforts, but is also committed to ensuring that the requirements that apply to Swiss producers will not be more stringent than those in neighbouring countries. In terms of environmental protection, production in Switzerland is at a very high level by international comparison, and the industry is already facing a constant price struggle abroad due to high wages on the home front. Therefore additional obstacles resulting from environment policy must not be allowed to go so far that they could render Switzerland’s manufacturing industry no longer competitive. Outsourcing production to less regulated countries is not in keeping with the overall objectives of environmental legislation.
Recycling is also of great importance in the textiles and clothing industry. The completion of material cycles plays a major role wherever expensive chemical substances can be processed so that they can be re-used. But textiles can also be recycled. Textile waste can be recycled by turning it into cleaning cloths, for example. In addition to textile waste, a broad variety of other waste products result from the production process, for example chemical waste, which has to be disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation. Here, Switzerland has extremely high standards in an international comparison.
Before the introduction of today’s environmental legislation, the manufacturing industry often caused higher levels of pollution. With respect to the problem of contaminated sites, the companies in the textiles industry are also involved in the nationwide inspection of production sites aimed at detecting hazardous pollutants from earlier times. In this connection, Swiss Textiles has launched an inter-cantonal programme in close collaboration with the main textile-producing cantons (Aargau, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Bern, Glarus, St Gallen, Thurgau and Zurich) aimed at finding a suitable method for listing contaminated sites in the public cadastre.