Circular economy is an economic system based on the re-use of materials in consecutive production cycles through accurate planning, which aims at the reduction of waste to the minimum. The linear economic model “take make dispose”, based on the accessibility of large quantities of energy and resources, is less and less suited to our everyday operational and productive reality. The initiatives in support of efficiency – that operate towards the reduction in the consumption of resources and fossil energy per production unit – can only postpone the crisis of this economic model, yet they are not sufficient to solve the problems arising from the running out of resources as their very nature has it.
Therefore, the transition from a linear to a circular production model seems to be necessary, where all the stages – from product design to production, from consumption to destination and the end of the lifecycle – effectively seize every opportunity to limit the use of inputs such as materials or energy, and reduce waste and losses while focusing on the negative environmental externalities and the realization of new social and territorial benefits.
Needless to say, it is crucial to understand what tools, measures, procedures and products have been provided by textile care sector businesses in this regard, and whether they have actually activated the circular economy model.
Renzacci S.p.A based in Città di Castello, present in both dry-cleaning and wet cleaning market, over the last years, has invested significant resources in research on eco-compatible technologies development in connection with the design of Renzacci’s washers, especially, with Oceano, a wet-cleaning system developed for industrial laundries. As far as the circular economy in laundries and its evaluation are concerned, the Sales Director at Renzacci, Marco Niccolini explains, “we have got two machines that work in strong synergy. One of them is a wet-cleaning Eco Care series machine and the other one is a closed-circuit dryer. The water used by the washer during a washing cycle, especially the water used in the rinsing stage, is completely recycled through a system called Super Storage System. It is placed under the machine, which is a space-saving solution, a crucial element in space management for laundries. Interestingly enough, the water recovered by the closed-circuit dryer (with a total air recovery due to the complete elimination of vacuuming hoods), as a result of its functioning process, is then re-directed and re-used in new washing cycles which determines a significant reduction in costs: saving up to 60% of water and 40% of energy”.
As far as “gentle chemistry” goes, Livio Bassan, the Managing Director at Christeyns Italia, a Belgian multinational “Laundry technology” business, underlines how “the circular economy in laundries is progressively establishing itself there while the linear cycle, take make dispose, is on its way out thanks to the new systems designed to reduce the environmental impact to the minimum. Already in the past, thanks to the introduction of a continuous batch washer, it was possible to determine a significant water saving by moving from 30 liter/kg of washed linen to 10 liter/kg.
Today, new technologies, resulting from the combined use of machines, detergents and fabrics, have managed to reduce water consumption down to 3 liter/kg and recover at least 60% of produced energy, with possible peaks up to 80%; the use of water/water heat exchangers that recuperate energy from the machine’s drain water but also the use of air/water exchangers that allow to maximize the use of heating energy of flatwork ironers all constitute the ecocompatible methods as they translate to a sharp decrease in energy waste.
Besides, laundry has always had a tendency to move towards circular economy. Treating fabrics and reusable materials, laundries have always safeguarded the environment by avoiding, e.g. the use of paper and other materials that have a significantly negative impact on our eco-system as they generate waste. Our mission, Livio Bassan reiterates, is definitely focused on the quality increase in case of both linen washing and the environment. We offer systems that contribute to saving by consuming less which is in line with
the leitmotiv, less is better”.
Also PONY based in Inzago near Milan, a producer of ironing equipment and technology, pays a lot of attention to the environmental protection and energy saving. Paolo Fumagalli, the President, explains “the entire range of shirt finishers by PONY has been provided with an integrated and efficient system of hot air recovery called H.A.R.S. that collects the hot air from a shoulder press and re-uses it in the entire ironing cycle. This way, the time of ironing gets shorter, energy consumption is reduced and the reductio of heat dispersion in work environment is significant which makes it more healthy for the machine operator. All the construction characteristics of our machines and the choice of components are oriented towards a progressive energy saving: the thickness of insulation, steel heating elements, last generation engines, low consumption electric-pneumatic systems, not to mention the recovery of the condensate by pumps working at up to 80 degrees. A solid example of energy-saving technology is DB360, a new rotary double-buck shirt press. The characteristic features of this machine allow to reduce the consumptions by about 30% if compared to similar machines present on the market”.
DBG Service from Sedriano, in the outskirts of Milan, is a specialised business that treats and and finishes garments, leather accessories and textile products for dry-cleaning shops, laundries and fashion industry businesses. Gerardo Delli Bovi, the Director and owner of the company talks about the eco-sustainability of this business with an artisan imprint, “we recuperate water in tanks that we later re-use in washing cycles. We have also sharply reduced the use of detergents by favoring ozone that we produce for electrolysis, and we are soon going to partly eliminate plastic used in garments packaging. We will replace it with the biodegradable packaging material. Our main energy source is gas, which is complicated to replace, yet, thanks to heat exchangers, we manage to recover the heat that heats up the water in tanks up to 45 degrees, a necessary temperature for washing”.
Moving on to Ecolab, a company that operates in the sector of water, technology and services in the fields of hygiene and energy, with its Italian headquarters in Vimercate, we meet Valentina Fontana, a Marketing Manager, “we are more than just suppliers of technologies and services. We want to be a catalyst of a positive change for our clients. To do so, we focus on every stage of the production cycle of our chemical products. We have also developed water and energy recovery systems which allow to reduce the consumptions by re-using clean water, already in use in the work systems, filtering it and controlling the critical parameters according to its final use, reducing waste and optimizing the processes. In view of all this, also super-concentrated detergents and precise and efficient dosing systems allow to reduce water consumption as well as transport less water thanks to the highly concentrated formulas such as the linea textile emulsions for laundry or the Oasis di Institutional line products. The focus on sustainability is significant also during the production process starting from the re-use of wooden pallets and containers made of recycled plastic. The recovery and re-use systems, together with the recycled plastic containers become a crucial element in the Eu-Ecolabel environmental certifications for chemical products, which proves the existence of a high environmental sustainability value not only as far as the formulas go but also in terms of packaging”.
Carlo Miotto, the CEO of Imesa S.p.A. headquartered in Cessalto, Treviso province, interprets the eco-sustainability key of his company through a new series of futuristic washing machines, LM 26-32. “Our eco-compatible solution is our technology. The eco-compatible wet-cleaning, without the use of solvents, is suitable for the treatment of all kinds of fabrics with the application of advanced technology
in the choice of the correct washing program and the dosing of detergents. Series LM 26-32 takes advantage of a technologically advanced system called IM11, a touch screen that allows to manage the eco-compatible, customized programs in an and energy saving through interventions on washing cycles control which then results in costs saving. What is more, IM11, has been equipped with an accelerator that allows to follow the movements of the washing unit, a drum and a tub. The obtained benefits translate to the easy management of difficult loads, vibrations reduction, noise reduction and the analysis of dynamic displacements. IM11 also allows to monitor machines’
efficiency, functioning and consumptions, and to plan the maintenance interventions.”
by Marzio Nava