Newsletter 42 of 2019

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           Newsletter No. 42                                                    1 November 2019

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Fully biodegradable fibres by Lenzing

Lenzing received confirmation of full biodegradability of its fibres in fresh water by independent research laboratory Organic Waste Systems (OWS). The new and existing international certifications conducted by OWS and issued by TÜV Austria verified that Lenzing’s viscose, modal and lyocell fibres are biodegradable in all natural and industrial environments. The biodegradability of cellulosic products and the synthetic fibre polyester was tested in fresh water at OWS according to valid international standards, e.g ISO 14851. At the end of the trial period, Lenzing wood-based cellulosic fibres, cotton and paper pulp were shown to be fully biodegradable in fresh water in contrast to synthetic polyester fibres, said the company in a statement. The fact that synthetic materials are not biodegradable leads to major problems in wastewater treatment plants and potentially marine litter. In turn, this not only harms fish and birds living in and close to the oceans but also all marine organisms and us humans.

“The Lenzing Group operates a truly circular business model based on the renewable raw material wood to produce biodegradable fibres returning to nature after use. This complete cycle comprises the starting point of the core value of sustainability embedded in our company strategy sCore TEN and is the ‘raison d’etre’ of our company,” said Stefan Doboczky, Chief Executive Officer of the Lenzing Group. “In living up to this positioning, we not only enhance the business of our suppliers, customers and partners along the value chain but also improve the state of the entire textile and nonwovens industries.”

Both the textile and nonwovens industries face huge challenges with respect to littering. If current trends continue, the oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Therefore, legislative bodies worldwide can no longer ignore the issue and have moved towards plastics legislation aimed at limiting the vast amount of waste. In response, European lawmakers issued the Single-Use Plastics Directive currently being transposed into national legislation in the EU member States.

Conventional wet wipes and hygiene products mostly contain plastic and were thus identified as one of the product categories to be singled out. Less polluting alternatives are generally encouraged by NGOs and legislators, e.g. products made of biodegradable wood-based cellulosic fibres. Plastic waste including microplastic can persist in the environment for centuries. In contrast, biodegradable materials are the best alternative to single-use plastics because they fully convert back to nature by definition and thus do not require recycling. The Lenzing Group stands for ecologically responsible production of specialty fibres made from the renewable raw material wood. As an innovation leader, Lenzing is a partner of global textile and nonwoven manufacturers and drives many new technological developments. Home Textile Views

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Report summary from African Business Information

By Carole Veitch

The Clothing Industry

South Africa’s formerly flourishing clothing manufacturing industry has been decimated by international competition since 1994. Although significant progress has been made in enhancing the competitiveness of the multi-billion rand industry, the sector continues to shed jobs. With discretionary income shrinking, clothing retail sales are under growing pressure. There are an estimated 800 clothing manufacturers operating in South Africa that generated revenue of R19bn in 2018, while retail sales of clothing, footwear and textiles totalled more than R175bn.

Buying Local

The drive to support Made in South Africa labels is steadily gaining ground. Wearing locally-made clothing at the state of the nation address, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that government, in partnership with business and labour, would be developing master plans for industries with high growth potential, including the clothing and textile sector, which has contracted significantly over the past two decades, shedding more than 200,000 jobs. Stakeholders say that the failure of many retailers to support local sourcing has resulted in factory closures and job losses. They continue to lobby for increased local procurement which allows retailers to respond to market trends more swiftly and lessens exposure to exchange rate fluctuations.

Industry Decline

The local clothing industry has been decimated by an influx of low-cost Asian products and negatively affected by the proliferation of mid- and high-end international fashion brands. Apparel manufacturers recorded an annual production decline of 4.9% in 2018.

Report Coverage

This report on the clothing industry includes manufacturers and retailers, with comprehensive information on the size and state of the industry and the factors that influence it, government initiatives and intervention, a performance review of the major players and information on corporate actions and leadership changes. There are profiles of 93 companies in the sector including manufacturers such as Trade Call Investments Apparel and Kingsgate Clothing, school uniform manufacturer Allwear Clothing, and retailers such as Edcon, The Foschini Group, Mr Price and Woolworths.

Women-specific PPE on the rise

South Africa is seeing an increase in female workers in industrial environments as traditional gender-specific roles are being broken down.

From a personal protective equipment (PPE) perspective, women are still pigeon-holed with the expectation that they should wear either male or unisex PPE, says local manufacturer Sisi Safety Wear senior brand manager Vanessa Ronald.

“There is a fundamental difference in size and shape between a woman and a man’s body, and ill-fitting PPE often creates discomfort and potential risk for women. Further, what many businesses don’t realise is that ill-fitting PPE impacts on the productivity of the female workforce in the workplace,” she says.

Ronald notes that the basic concept of PPE is to protect the worker from the potential hazards in their working environment.

When it comes to safety footwear, the hazards may include slipping, falling objects, corrosive chemicals and solvents, sharp protruding metals and shavings and anti-static charges. PPE is supposed to protect a person from these dangers in the workplace.

“If we look at a typical woman’s foot, the contours differ from that of a man’s in that the female foot is generally narrower,” says Ronald.

She mentions that a women’s size five shoe would need to be shaped differently to that of a man’s size five shoe, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit.

Ronald points out that a man’s shoe may fit a woman’s foot from the toe to the heel, however, it would typically be too wide in breadth. As a result, her foot may oscillate within the shoe. Over time, the oscillation puts strain on her ankle, which leads to strain on the knee and subsequently strain on her hip.

In the case of women who have narrow heels, the potential of slipping out of the boot becomes a daily risk thereby counteracting the sole purpose for wearing safety footwear.

Instead of focusing on the daily task at hand, a woman will be mindful of her ill-fitting footwear, thereby decreasing her productive output.

In addition, in the case of workwear such as conti-suits, boiler suits, the difference between the shape of a man’s and a woman’s body is more evident. Despite this, there is still a trend of procuring men’s workwear or unisex workwear for women.

“I believe that this is because the consequences of and daily struggles with ill-fitting workwear for women are not understood,” Ronald says.

She adds that, in terms of the trousers, women naturally have wider hips and a more pronounced posterior. As a result, the pattern of the trousers needs to be cut differently to accommodate the difference in shape.

Failure to do so can result in the trousers sitting below the belly button section. For women who have given birth through a caesarean section, there are often complaints that the button places unwanted pressure on the scarring area causing discomfort.

Further, when a woman bends over – a task that is common for those wearing conti-trousers – the trouser waist band typically falls below her hip region exposing the top half of her posterior.

This not only compromises her dignity in front of her colleagues, but often results in her wearing nylon tights under her trousers.

Ronald highlights that, when it comes to jackets, unlike men, women generally have a smaller back area, but a more pronounced chest area. There are typically two issues that arise when issuing women with men’s conti-jackets.

Moreover, jackets are sourced to fit the waist area, hip length and arm length causing tightness in the chest area, thereby restricting flexibility and movement and exposing a woman’s midriff when raising her arms. Alternatively, the jackets are sourced to fit the pronounced chest area, resulting in a baggy, uncomfortable fit, where the arms and hip length are compromised.

In addition, the female shape varies from one woman to another. Some have a larger chest area, but a smaller hip area, while others have an extended hip area but a smaller chest area. In other cases, some women have proportional hip to chest areas. As a result, assuming that conti-suits for women can be bought as a set is another misconception.

Industrial psychologist Uma Naidoo says, if one is not comfortable in their attire, which they use for about eight hours a day, this could lead to frustration, poor concentration, increased breaks and many other debilitating effects on productivity. She confirms that, if an individual is uncomfortable in their clothing, they are not functioning at their best.

Owing to more and more women entering into areas once deemed the preserve of men, there needs to be a shift in the way that PPE is procured for the workforce, if productivity is to be maximised.

Much research has been spent looking into the ergonomics of a corporate space with proven results. If the same concept is applied to those wearing workwear, we can conclude that the more comfortable a worker is, the better they will perform, Ronald concludes. Engineering News

Did you know……..

1936 Fashion: What did people wear?

In 1936, women loved wearing a plum or dark green wool tailored dress with long, tight sleeves and slightly bloused bodice. The dress gently flared at mid-calf, has side pleats and is worn with a wide leather belt.

For the evening, the black silk crepe with white silk over-jacket was a fashionable choice. Another slick outfit was the shiny, brown satin and matching jacket and feather-trimmed sleeves. Formal wear ranged from short dresses in bright colors to gold frocks with pressed pleats and short jackets.

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