The 60th Dornbirn Global Fiber Congress (GFC) Congress, which starts on September 15th, will focus on sustainability and the circular economy.
On the first day of the three-day conference, Lenzing's COO Robert van de Kerkhoff will deliver the keynote talk, which will focus on the need for new business models in the fibers and textiles supply chain.
At last year's conference, he said that many of today's material solutions do not accord with biological principles and the rules of physics. Because of the rules that govern natural material cycles, it is impossible to isolate the technological ones, and our artificial material loops invariably leak. What might the future of the fiber industry look like?
He mentioned natural phenomena like the spider's web and honeycombs as examples of how to use enhanced strength, structure, light reflection, adhesives, and a variety of other functional qualities in circular new materials.
Van de Kerkhoff said that all of Lenzing's fibers are made from CO2 and sunlight, and renewable carbon is the only solution. Offsetting makes no sense, and they'll only do it in the short term where there are no other options. The solutions are biomass, CO2, and recycling, but innovative collaborations and government assistance are critical. Covid-19 is notable in that it saw fiber growth slow in 2020, with a 3–4% recovery projected, but do we want to return to the old normal? Everything up to this point has been driven by volume growth, but perhaps we should stop focusing on volume growth and instead focus on actual value growth. We simply cannot afford to return.”
Uday Gill, CEO of Indorama Ventures (IVL), will also appear as a keynote speaker and has previously talked about synthetic fibers and plastics in general. He said that plastic is a fantastic substance because it can be recycled indefinitely. It won't go bad and can be used a thousand times. Let's fix the problem, which isn't with plastic but with human carelessness. They've converted a fantastic solution for a lot of good things into an issue with plastics, but action is actually starting now, and this problem will be fixed eventually.
Martin Bethke, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund, and key representatives from the paper industry, which has proven far more adept at establishing circular systems than the manmade fibers industry, are also scheduled to speak on the first day of the Dornbirn-GFC, bringing different perspectives that will ensure lively debate.
The Austrian Fibers Institute's managing director, Friedrich Weninger, said that outstanding new ideas will create a live feeling throughout the conference, inspire networking, and promote a unique learning experience. The newest scientific results will be presented by top specialists from industry and research, and ninety lecture slots have already been allotted, taking place in two lecture halls concurrently. Networking and information exchange will be possible through panel talks, breakout sessions, and virtual meeting lounges.
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