At the recently concluded 2nd Philippine Garment Leather Industries & Textile Expo held at the SMX Convention Center Manila and during a special media forum held at Conrad Hotel on opening day last Thursday (December 5), key leaders in the textile industries discussed the importance of sustainability in the garments and textiles.

Leading the discussion are Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Celia B. Elumba, Director IV of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI).

Also sharing their experiences are Chuck Lazaro, CEO of Ananas-Anam Philippines and Adrienne Charuel, Founder and Creative Director of Maison Metisse.

“Sustainability is producing our own textiles because it’s higher in the value chain,” DOST-PTRI Director Elumba said. “Using our own raw materials, having our own local skills and talents, and using our technology and processing here—it’s an industry that can enable more people to come to the workforce.”

Use what you produce; produce what you use.

As a backgrounder Elumba revealed results of a recent study on textile wastes in the Philippines, here are the some of the alarming figures:

  • Solid wastes generation increased steadily from 37,427.46 tons per day in 2012 to 40,087.45 tons in 2016
  • Of this, textile waste comprised 11M tons or 27.5%
  • 40-85% of the waste generated is collected nationwide, implying that 15-60% are improperly disposed of or littered
  • 65% of Filipino adults have thrown clothes away
  • 24% have thrown away more than 10 items of clothing in the past year
  • 29% have thrown away an item of clothing after wearing it just once
  • 12% have thrown unwanted clothes in the bin

Another study shows in contrast the behaviors of Baby Boomers and Millennials:

  • 63% of Baby Boomers are more likely to give their clothes to charity, compared with 47% of millennials
  • 80% (Baby Boomers) have passed them on to friends or family, compared to 70% (Millennials)
  • 16% of Millennials are more likely to sell them online, compared with 4% of Baby Boomers

How Do We Live Sustainability in Garment and Textiles?

Director Elumba also presented three (3) viable solutions to promote sustainability and help close the loop in fashion.

1. Commercial Extraction of Fiber

To enliven the country’s garments and textile industries, the PTRI has already developed a number of technologies to assist local businesses in the production and processing of locally made textiles and fabrics. With raw materials and technologies now readily available in the Philippines, it is apparent that the Philippines’ garment sector is ripe for revitalization.

“We have the technology. Now we’re looking for adaptors of it,” says Elumba. “We want to encourage enterprises, businesses, and investors to go and take a second look at textile production because we have more than a hundred million Filipinos now to market to.”

One example of a sustainable model is the Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center (RYPIC) in Miag-ao, Iloilo, where PTRI collaborated with the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT U) to create a microscale facility that produces blended yarns that assists small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The project, which is supported by the local government of Iloilo, uses natural materials available in Iloilo—positively impacting the environment by not leaving microfibers in the water when washed. In keeping with PTRI advocacy TELA (Textiles Empowering Lives Anew) Pilipinas, they have also partnered with Great Women Philippines to create and market products commercially and further promote locally made quality textiles.

With the country’s abundance of raw materials, the PTRI looks forward to more opportunities of putting up RYPICs in other locations, where all the resources are localized and all the benefits will be enjoyed by those directly involved and the local population—creating an ecosystem that can be sustained for future generations.

“There’s no better time to invest than today. We believe in the technology and its ability to change and moderate lives and improve our conditions,” Elumba says of her hope for the local garments and textile industry. “We’d love to have the collaboration and cooperation of the private sector because their creativity will surely help us find ways to improve what we have.”

2. Sustainable Textile Solutions

For sustainable textile solutions, Director Elumba presented several case studies such as “The Next Closet” secondhand luxury closet which aims to inspire people to invest in quality and reuse what they already have and “Mud Jeans” which leases and redesigns jeans for low monthly fee.

3. Smart Textiles

Basically the use of technology and new innovations in all the stages from extraction to recycling or upcycling.

How Can Ordinary Citizens Contribute to Sustainability?

  • Make things that will last and make it last
  • Choose quality over price
  • 6Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose, Rethink and Refuse
  • Choose local
  • Go natural, biodegradables – upcycle not down
  • Mind the value in time over cost in the present
  • Live mindfully and consume consciously, conscientiously

Among the local companies who have participated in this year’s expo were Armena Embroideries, D & A Edge Polymer Phils. Inc., Golden Island Fashion Accessories, Kelin Graphics System Corp., Printway Marketing and Services, Shanghai Global Corp., and Testex Philippines Representative Office.

Co-organized by Philippine Exhibition and Trade Corporation (PETCO), the Philippine Garment, Leather Industries and Textile Expo is supported by Textile Producers Association of the Philippines (TEXPAP), LGU Marikina / Marikina Shoe Industry Development Office (MASIDO), Garment Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (GARMAP), DOST-PTRI, and Department of Science and Technology – National Capital Region (DOST-NCR).

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