SUSTAINABILITY ACCORDING TO ELASTIC INTERFACE®
Elastic Interface® has made sustainability an integral part of corporate life and mission. It is not just a matter of trivial recycling, but is also about changing the vision to bring the whole company to live more consciously. EIT has started from the materials, now we are applying a company-wide sustainability program.
We sit down with Eric Braido who is in charge of Elastic Interface®‘s sustainability program.
Eric, what does it mean to have a sustainability strategy and to do business in a sustainable way?
Having a sustainable development strategy means integrating environmental protection into our mission. After becoming aware of our impact and analyzing our internal processes, materials and production techniques, we rationalized the use of resources, eventually strengthening waste reduction.
The path we have taken is one of awareness and responsibility, which is continuous improvement that involves everyone in the company. EIT started by applying the thinking of the 3Rs-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-with Reduce as the core of everything we do.
In our daily actions and thoughts, our commitment is to change the vision: if I reduce consumption, I reduce the impact. The less waste I produce, the less material I will be wasting and the less I will have to reuse or recycle.
The ISO 14001 standard was implemented to monitor these aspects, to apply the concept of continuous improvement within the company. Sustainable development does not have a finite goal, but is a journey instages. And this involves the company at 360°.
What were the first actions in this area?
First we got everyone involved. People are the engine of change and innovation and without a united team in achieving common goals, the path could not have started on the right foot.
In concrete terms, the first step was choosing green energy. The analysis of internal processes then led us to question ourselves – on a more conscious use of paper, cardboard and plastic, analyzing company habits and looking for alternative solutions.
Still on the subject of raw materials, this time on cycling pads, the ECO Performance Fabric was launched in2018. It is a fabric composed of recycled pre-consumer polyamide and elastane; in fabrics with polyester, this material is post-consumer recycled.
What is meant by pre-consumer recycled fabric?
The ECO Performance Fabric is a technology developed by our partner MITI Spa, in which the production of waste is reduced. For the production of polyamide and elastane, yarn production waste is reused, which are then reintroduced into the supply chain to produce new virgin yarn. This way, it is recycled, all while reducing the production of waste. Polyester, on the other hand, is produced according to the traditional post-consumer recycling method.
ECO Performance Fabric is, in terms of performance, exactly the same as «normal» fabrics. The advantage is that it is, by nature, a sustainable and eco-friendly fabric.
And the padding? Do you use recycled foams?
The theme of recycled foams is more delicate. In fact, as a Performance Specialist we only adopted recycled fabrics when we were sure they met the same quality standards we require for regular fabrics.
For the foams, however, we have not yet reached satisfactory results. What we are doing, however, is using raw materials in a conscious way. In fact, for the production of our padding, we have studied a foam cutting method that allows us to have 30% less waste (compared to other production methods). This is a production system that does not require skiving, but is limited to cutting the foams with die cuts.
Furthermore, to glue the materials together, we only use a very fine thermo-adhesive film which, once thermoformed, melts with the padding.
But sustainability is not just about environmental protection actions…
«Sustainability» has now become a buzzword. But it needs to be meaningful. A balance must be found between environmental, social and economic sustainability. We need to add another one however: ethics. By this I mean that while we are a profit company, the first goal remains to balance profit and sustainability for the company, employees and the community.
Being a solid and profitable company has allowed us to guarantee reliability towards suppliers and to become an active partner of the community, increasingly supporting local sports activities and associations that promote the area.
In 2019 we also obtained a 2-star rating (out of a maximum of 3) on the Legality Rating. A great result for us who have always chosen to do business in an ethical and responsible way.