Climate change, carbon mitigation

Posted by on lug 20, 2010 in Resources | 5 comments

Over the past few years, climate change issues have moved from the academic arena to front page headlines in mainstream newspapers worldwide. Promoted by weather events such as the European heat wave in 2003, Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005, or icebergs melting shots, climate change has itself moved up from public debates to the political agenda.

Climate change” or “Global warming“, refers to the rise in the planet’s overall temperature due to the anthropogenic (human-related) increased of greenhouse gasses (GHGs)in the atmosphere, mainly expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq.). Such a serious question has been addressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(1). Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, over 300 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC) have been released into the atmosphere. A stabilization of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at around 450 parts per million by volume (ppmv), may involve an exceeding 2°C warming. These numbers have often been translated by the Kyoto protocol into a 5,2% reduction on 1990 emissions by 2012. A further call for additional reductions of between 60% to 80% on 1990 emission by 2050, had led to the adoption of 2050 targets by the United Kingdom (60%), France (75-80%), and California (80%).
According to leading scientists our planet is in its danger zone with carbon dioxide concentration poured higher than 350 ppm.
All of these implied the same thing: wherever the red line for danger was, we have already passed it, even though the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 390 ppm in 2009 with an annual increase rate of 2,5 ppm.

Climate change: potential effects

The climate changes to come will likely threaten many people’s access to some basic services, like: shelter, food, and water. Additionally, the irreversible damage to the world’s ecosystems, including the extinction of a large fraction of the earth’s vulnerable species, as well as emerging diseased will be the most extensive negative effects that civilized humans have ever experienced.
The significance of the climate change implies an urgent development and deployment of policy instruments world-wide. In fact, the climate change has benn identified as one of the greatest challenges facing nations, governments, business and citizens over future decades.

The energy challenge

Today, 80% of the global energy use relies on fossil fuel. Energy conservation and a greater efficiency in industrial energy, material efficiency and reductions are the lowest-cost near-term measures. We can also switch from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources: nuclear power, wind, solar energy, biomasses, etc., however their availability is limited and really not cost effective. Taxes and the implementation of subsidies are likely to bevome more attractivee for new investments in carbon mitigation while new regulations will be issued.

Carbon footprint: the eco-indicator

A carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, released over the full lifecycle of a process or product. Carbon footprints are calculated using a method called lifecycle assessment (LCA), also referred to as the “cradle-to-grave” approach. It takes into account energy inputs and emission outputs throughout the whole producton chain from exploration and extraction of raw materials to processing, transport, final use and disposal.

The carbon footprint of the clothing textile industry

The textile industry is one of the major players releasing greenhouse gases on earth, due to the huge size and scope of the industry. Many processes and products that go into the making of fibres, textiles and clothing items use up a very big amount of fossil energy needed in production, processing, heating and drying yarns, fabrics and garments. Clothing and textiles account for approximately 10% of the carbon impact. The estimate of annual global textile production of 60 billion kg of fabrics boggles the mind: 1,000 billion kWh of elettricity and up to 9 trillion litres of water. Marks & Spencer in UK and Wal-Mart in US drive the ethical agenda of retailers, which has been dominated by environmental issues. The two companies are setting the pace to the whole industry. So, along with their investments in corporate social responsability (CSR) projects to improve the general living conditions of the workers, the retailers are taking the necessary steps to use sustainable, environmentally-friendly practises for quality products, pushing suppliers to improve sustainability getting environmentally responsible products with lower carbon footprint. And thus a way for organizations and individuals to assess their contribution to climate change and promote it in the media. They are increasingly concerned with emissions across their entire supply chain. The UK fashion retail market has already claimed the world’s first carbon footprint label for carbon reduction for textile products. They calculated that, without the use of renewable energy, the carbon footprint of the basic men’s white T-shirts in size Large 155 grams, produced in a traditional way, would have been 6,574kg CO2; it now stands at 671g which represents a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions. The garment is made in a factory that uses 100% renewable energy and organic cotton is from India as well. The direct carbon footprint contribution of manufacturing plants from yarn to customer gate including operations such as spinning, knitting, dyeing, finishing, cutting, sewing with transportation to distribution center could reach up to 12,5kg CO2 per kg fabric.
The carbon emission of a T-Shirt manufacturing in CO2 eq. could be over 12 fold its product weight. Just imagine that the carbon footprint of steel range at 2kg CO2 eq. per kg of steel, you may understand the pressure coming down from the supply chain to the full industry: elephants are among us. Carbon footprint in the textile and clothing industry is in the hot spot.

Flainox sustainable development

For our textile machinery industry, the real challenge is to design solutions for carbon mitigation by being more eco-efficient and lowering operating costs for a greener product profile.
As regards climate change figures and facts, Flainox has adopted a sustainable development strategy in order to meet the needs of present and future generations without jeopardizing the future. Sustainable development requires some attitude shifts in thinking, consumption, design review, production patterns and business approach. The Carbon Footprint of our Universal NRP machine has been investigated over its complete lifespan, from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing, to the use of the product by consumers and end-of-life processes. The impact analysis was limited to emissions that have an effect on climate change (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.).
The study conclusion put a strong focus on hot spots for eco-design review and ecoefficiency improvements leading to the new energy concept “NRG” for the rotary dyeing garments-socks and seamless machine. The achievements of carbon footprint mitigation with the new NRP/NRG have resulted in 23% CO2 eq. reduction and provided 19% utilities and energy cost savings at textile plant usage.

Low Carbon
50% Lower Carbon Footprint in Manufacturing (1% on total)
22% Lower Carbon Footprint in Production Use

Less Calorie
25% Less Calories in Manufacturing
20% Less Calories in Production Use

Lower Costs: 19% Lower Utilities cost in Production

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5 Responses to “Climate change, carbon mitigation”

  1. Hello,
    Thank you very much for this information. I was interested to know that around 12,5kg of CO2 are created per kg fabric. Could you please let me know the source of this calucation?
    Thank you

  2. Andrea Bozzo says:

    Very interesting this article as also the others are.
    Theese issues are discussed all over the world, but where we can really do something is in improving the machinary’s efficiency. If every machine could have an independent energy source (e.g. photovoltaic), this could solve the energy consumption problem or partially reduce it.
    Unfortunately, nowadays, the photovoltaic efficiency is not really good, but it’s improving everyday.
    But, waiting for this, you have done a very good job.

  3. very good post, i certainly love this web site, carry on it

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