In spite of the current pandemic and the problems it has been causing us, we have realized that the consumers’ and companies’ attention to the environmental protection issues has
not diminished. We cannot say that it is due to any distraction, perhaps because of COVID-19. It actually seems to be the opposite, the attention to sanitizing has brought a collective awareness about the environmental sustainability, perceived as an added value. Over
the last years, the problem of pollution has got worse. Consequently, the ecological awareness of the consumers has increased to the point that today, we can identify some groups of customers as green customers, those who consider the environmental variables as crucial while making the choices on the products they want to buy. The situation has resulted in the growing spread of environmental politics initiatives and the parallel relevance, both reflected by market concepts such as “sustainable development” and “compatible economy”. They translate to the controlled development with the guarantee of an adequate quality of life and to the respect for future generations. Textile care businesses are facing growing difficulties as they need to adjust to the regulations in progress that are often incomplete and badly coordinated on national and international levels. The difficulties are increasing because the companies are operating in a global village where the economic borders are permeable, but the regulations are very well defined by the borders. Because of that, it is necessary to show a pro-active approach in the management of issues relating to ecology and identify the most suitable strategic and operative solutions. Environment should be perceived non only as a restriction, a limit, but also as an opportunity, a factor that will help acquire market shares. From this point of view, and due to the monitoring that we have conducted among businesses, it clearly turns out that businesses are well prepared both in terms of products and processes of the compatible economy challenges.

Ruggero Sammarco, the Technical and Business Development Supervisor at Christeyns Italia, a producer of chemical products with its Italian headquarters based in Pessano con Bornago, in the province of Milan, illustrates the green profile of the company: “we operate in the market of detergents and over the last years, we have developed new washing concepts based on both the creation of eco-compatible, innovative products and on the correct use of washing processes according to the available machines and types of fabrics to treat. In order to guarantee very high-quality standards of detergents, with a maximum attention to the environmental protection, Christeyns offers two washing systems labelled with the European certification Ecolabel and a range of other products with the environmental certification of type 1 in relation to UNI EN ISO 14024. Undoubtedly, the work and effort of both our R&D and the production departments has been quite engaging in order to adjust and take the road of the environmental sustainability. Cool Chemistry and PureSan both represent an objective reached. The systems consist of innovative products. In particular, the type of surfactants and other chemical components such as enzymes or anti-depositing agents have been studied thoroughly in order to reduce the environmental impact. To reduce pollution, the tendency is to facilitate the functioning of water treatment plants by decomposition of certain components, which could minimize the risk of wastewater affecting our environment negatively. The European certification Ecolabel guarantees the processes and the products. They differ in terms of washing systems, and working in unison, they prolong the lifecycle of fabrics. The aim is also to reduce the consumption of water, energy and detergents. Moreover, we have intervened massively on cutting costs in relation to logistics and transport by promoting products transportation in tanks which reduces the use of plastic containers. In cases where the use of the containers is inevitable, we use those made of recyclable materials. As far as the environmental sustainability is concerned, Christeyns has also developed a line of single products, Nordic Swan, that have been labelled with the Ecolabel certification for each single product. Each product can be used independently in case there is no need to apply the entire washing system.

“To Renzacci, the bio factor in laundry is characterized by natural solvents (alternative to chlorinated solvents) used with machines that apply natural cleaning techniques”, says Marco Niccolini, the Sales Director at Renzacci S.p.A., a producer of professional dry-cleaning and washing machines with its headquarters in Città di Castello (PG). He adds: “natural solvents” interpret the present and future demand of the laundry sector, and they constitute an obligatory step for two main reasons:
• the first, strictly technical one: these new cleaning techniques have allowed to include other types of garments that can be treated using them. If we consider the new materials that garments are made of today, or even the way they are finished, it is actually necessary to use the new dry-cleaning techniques;
• the second crucial element is linked to the change of values affecting customers while purchasing goods and services in relation to the most important sectors of life.
As a matter of fact, today more than ever, the concepts of biocompatibility, sustainability and biodegradability are perceived by clients as strictly linked to their health and wellbeing. Therefore, clients turn these concepts into key factors that orientate their decisions while choosing products and services to buy. And this is fundamental for our sector because: after what we eat and drink, what is the next most intimate and personal thing than the clothes we wear? Market results prove we are right. As a matter of fact, laundries that are following our indications, have revitalized dry-cleaning turning it into a much requested and profitable garment cleaning technique. Such a laundry model does not just reflect garment cleaning in a general way, but it turns into a cleaning center that offers services linked to sanitizing, hygiene and personal care. Thanks to the machines by Renzacci, we have reached the squaring of circle with the labor costs almost gone, basically inexistent
installation costs (the machines being mono phase) and the running costs tending to zero. As far as the bio dry-cleaning lines go, our Nebula and Excellence complete the eco compatible offer by Renzacci together with the professional washers of the Oceano series, all equipped with systems that reduce the microplastics pollution offering a very high eco-compatibility standard”.

Marco Vaccari, a co-owner of Surfchimica, a producer of chemical products based in Peschiera Borromeo near Milan, says “at this truly particular moment, we are focused on ozone washing. We possess a machine that produces ozone directly from the atmosphere oxygen. Unlike other systems available on the market, we inject ozone directly into the drum of the washing machine, so we actually wash with ozone and not with ozonewater
that might become less effective. When we add ozone to the washing, we use completely cold water, therefore we do not consume energy. Very few detergents are added to the washing as ozone has whitening properties, and by expanding the fibers it also has a softening effect on fabrics. Washing cycles are shorter if compared to the standard ones, whereas as far as wastewater goes, no depuration systems need to be used because no chemical products are added to the washing. This system by Surfchimica has been called OZOSTAR. What is more, for a couple of years now, Surfchimica has been offering a range of products realized with plant extracts and vegetable derivatives. Called NAT, the products contain less than 1% of surfactants, they are not labelled as dangerous, they are biodegradable and there is no wastewater handling involved”.

Mirco Mongillo, the Sales Manager at Firbimatic S.p.A., a producer of dry-cleaning machines based in Sala Bolognese near Bologna, points out, “a few years ago, we found ourselves in front of the crossroads: continue to use perc or choose, as we did, a new solvent of the great hydrocarbon family and decrease the environmental impact while developing new machines.”
“These are bio machines because they use alternative solvents with a low environmental impact, they reach optimal levels of cleaning and they dramatically reduce consumptions. The Eco Green series by Firbimatic (machines from 10kg to 80kg) is a line of alternative solvent machines that carry several new, structural solutions. They translate to the reduced environmental impact, not only due to the solvent but also due to the reduction in the use of cooling water inside the circuit. Who treats knitwear knows that to obtain great results, it used to be necessary to proceed with both dry-cleaning and wet cleaning. That was before the arrival of the new cleaning techniques. Today, the cost of the treatment is reduced thanks to the hydrocarbon solvents and to a single cleaning cycle. In Italy, fashion sector has been the most receptive to this type of garment cleaning technique. It is however expected to spread to all the other sectors. We have witnessed a great interest in these new cleaning methods in China and in the eastern European countries, not to mention The United States, that is our market of reference” adds Mongillo.

“As far as the bio factor in the textile sector goes, there is the Gots certification released by Icea that we received in 2009”, says Marco Gastaldi, the CEO of Industria Tessile Gastaldi based in Merone near Como. “As far as textiles for laundry go, the research
and development of bio products is not that common as there are no ad hoc certifications. A certification for laundries is missing and this really is a great gap. This year, Gastaldi have launched a new product called Acero, certified by Gots. 80% of the product is made of bio cotton and 20% is made from recycled polyester. The collection has been welcomed very well in the north of Europe as the Gots customized garments are quite requested there, while in Italy, the interest towards these products is still a little low. However, there is a great attention to the environmental sustainability in general in the textile sector. In order to be certified, a product needs to be made of certified raw materials deriving from organic cultivations, and the entire production process needs to be certified as well. A certified bio product will cost more, especially when it comes to the raw materials that cost about 50% more than in case of any ordinary production, which undoubtedly represents a discouraging factor in terms of purchase. We wish there would be some sort of a guideline also in case of the industrial laundry sector as far as the bio washing processes go so that clients can be offered a certified final product by the entire production chain of this sector”.

“Bio is a nice, successful word, often used in marketing”, says Gabriele Cuppini, the Sales Director at Union S.p.A., a producer of dry-cleaning machines based in Sala Bolognese (BO). However, as far as dry-cleaning goes, a bio product does not come as first in the choice criteria ranking of the final customer. I am not only speaking about Italy. My evaluation actually concerns many other countries. As dry-cleaning machines producers, thanks to our biocompatible product lines, we are undoubtedly ahead if compared to the “water” machines sector producers, e.g. washers. Let us only consider that the washing machines wastewater needs to be treated and filtered in a certain way to make it reusable.
With dry-cleaning instead, there is no polluting wastewater whatsoever as the water that was in contact with the separator or the residual distillation are not dispersed into the environment. Also, let us not forget about the microplastics and the ecological damage they are causing…”

“The wellbeing of our environment will be considered as an even more essential and unavoidable element in the development of any business”, underlines Stenilio Morazzini, the General Manager of Montega S.r.l., a producer of chemical products from Misano Adriatico near Rimini. “Are we sure that the imprint our laundries and products leave are within the limits our planet can take? Carbon dioxide and water Footprint, that is the “imprint” produced by washing in terms of water and energy, is the crucial element in the considerations of environmental protection. Montega can calculate the parameter in advance thanks to a program developed by our R&D, where we enter products, dosage, temperatures and the bath ratio. A pre-washing stage using Yanus System, a replacement of bleach and a washing cycle with Top Level Nature and Clean SG Nature, realized with the use of hypoallergenic scents and vegetable origin surfactants, and finally, Soft Nature, a concentrated and scented softener all stand for a low temperature washing cycle with a very significant water saving. In conclusion, the footprint can be calculated starting from the prewashing stage until the drying stage by Montega team, that hasalways been  distinguished for its complete and reliable assistance”.

In conclusion, we are speaking with Eugenio Boni, the Sales Director at Italclean S.r.l., a producer of dry-cleaning machines based in San Giorgio in Piano (BO). “Dry-cleaning machines are bio by nature because they do not consume water. Water enters the machine clean and gets out from it clean. In some countries, that water, recovered from the cycles, is then re-used in washing cycles to take advantage of its high temperature, which allows for energy saving. Over the years, our machines have been improved as far as the eco-compatibility goes. For example, we can monitor the drying stage and this allows us to reduce the use of solvents. Also, it is possible to clean the distiller and save the consumption of solvent, reducing its exposure at the same time. Our perc machines of the Premium and Liberty series, including the entire hydrocarbon line, use the technology aiming at the reduction of consumptions, therefore, they are eco-compatible by all means”, adds Boni in conclusion.

What this great number of producers believe in and have in common, while offering a variety of garment cleaning methods that differ one from another, is to guarantee high quality combined with the environmental protection.

by Marzio NAva