Sustainability

Our role in environment awareness

environment-worldOn a global scale we are paying a lot more attention to the ecological impression we make on the planet than ever before. Quite rightly we all want to do our bit to reduce the impact we cause in our everyday lives.

Research is telling us that whilst no manufacturing process is without impact on the environment, Digital Textile Printing is certainly one of the friendlier in todays UK textile industry.

Digital textile printing is growing in popularity for designers choosing a more environmentally aware process compared to many of the other traditional printing and dyeing methods . It’s reputation as the eco-friendlier of the printing processes is predominantly measured through the reduced amount of waste inevitably produced.

Here at the Silk Bureau we are mindful of the waste that is easily created in our manufacturing process and therefore take steps to reduce it to a minimum. We don’t stop at just monitoring our water and coating consumption. We ensure that we are fully compliant with the UKs waste framework directive by paying for specialists to dispose of our waste by-products.

Here are some points to consider when choosing the Silk Bureau to print your designs;

Digital printing – Creates less wasteink-cartridges
  • There are no screens or plates to produce (as for screen print or rotary printing) and so needs less setup equipment.
  • Printing direct to fabric means less wasted surplus ink (unlike dyeing) through precise applicaton of the artwork.
  • The inks we do use are certificated as Azo dye free.
  • Using the best quality inks through the print heads stops clogging and waste.
  • Many of our fabrics also have a OEKO-TEX certification or are to European REACH standards.
  • There is less use of chemicals and water than traditional methods. Use of water is unavoidable however, by investing in high tech equipment we have reduced our water consumption to the minimum required to achieve production. The disposal of waste water is treated through approved channels and vetted by the local authority as effluent friendly.
  • Our machinery is designed to last. We are diligent with our maintenance programs and our staff are highly trained in their operation. Taking care of the machinery prolongs its lifespan.
  • There are unavoidable fabric off-cuts caused by rolling on and off the printer beds, testing print heads, etc. Mindful not to clog our landfill sites and to protect your copyright, we send all wasted fabric for recycling. Our waste fabrics are collected by a recycling specialist who shreds them and uses the resulting fibre as bioenergy, incinerating it to create heat sources and electricity. Plain fabric offcuts may also be donated to education and charity facilities.
Sublimation printing – Zero wastegreen swirl
  • This process is possibly one of the friendliest.
  • Artwork is first printed onto a transfer paper, which we source from sustainable forest crops, after use it is then recycled through a specialist waste collection service.
  • The dyes we do use are certificated as Azo dye free.
  • The dyes are cured using a combined pressure and dry heat process that does not require water.
  • No excessive wasted consumables involved.

Our B2B focus is on those designing quality individual pieces and not the mass produced, throw away clothing that swamps the market.

Eco FabricsGreen-eco-label

We have included some eco-friendly fabrics in our range such as *Tencel, *Bamboo, *Linen, *Regenesis and *GOTS ECO 100% Cotton, all created with sustainable organic substances.

*Tencel

is one of the most environmentally friendly fabrics available. Regenerated from sustainably grown wood cellulose.

*Bamboo

fabric is a natural textile made from the pulp of bamboo grass. The Bamboo used to produce fabrics (not the same as Panda food) is considered one of the most sustainable plants because it grows quickly and does not require chemicals or irrigation and biodegrades quickly.

*Linen

is made from Flax. Flax is a natural product that does not require irrigation during growth, and needs little or no chemical treatment. All parts of the plant are used, so there is no waste. Linen fabric is 100% biodegradable and recyclable.

*Regenesis Range – Keeping those single-use plastic bottles out of landfills

rPET – recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate – created by recycling plastics that were previously used as packaging materials.

The ever-increasing problem of single use plastic wrapping, such as plastic drinking bottles, is now finding an outlet through digital textile printing.

Technology has developed a method whereby bottles are sorted, cleaned and stripped of labels and caps, melted down into pellets and then spun into yarn to make fabrics.

The resulting polyester fabric prints beautifully. Of course, non-toxic inks and the zero waste sublimation printing methods used at The Silk Bureau make this a truly environmentally aware product. It’s quite astonishing how a plastic bottle can end up as a beautifully soft fabric. We already have six different weights to choose from that would suit a variety of garments. Specifications for each of these can be found on our Fabric page.

To confirm the eco authenticity of the products you make from the Regenesis fabric range, we have swing tags available. The tags confirm that the fabric is made from a recycled PET filament. Simply hang one to each of your final products when ready to retail. Please note we will include one swing tag for every metre of fabric printed – however, if you need more then let us know when placing your order and we can pop those in with the completed printed fabric. (Subject to availability)

*GOTS ECO 100% Organic Cottons – “From field to finished product”

GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard

These fabrics are all about traceability. Many customers now want to know where their fabric comes from. From the farmers through to the manufacturers, a GOTS certification provides a clear path of compliance with the ethical, environmental, technical and social criteria outlined by the international standards committee. There are an increasing number of certified facilities registering with GOTS, ultimately meaning a wider range of fabrics will be available to the final consumer. The five that we currently have available in our range vary from a lightweight 85gsm to a substantial 340gsm, so you’re sure to find one to suit your project.

Suppliers & ethical working practices
china weaving production image

Images captured at our suppliers mills

A concern for many of our customers is the unknown origins of the fabrics they have printed. The news reports of poor work conditions and treatment of the workers have heightened awareness of manufacturing from far away countries. Despite working with the same suppliers for over 30 years, to reasure ourselves, as well as our Customers, we sent our MD Doug and Steve, our Operations Manager out to some of the mills we use to supply the best AA grade fabrics. By visiting the weaving mills, we have been able to see for ourselves the ethical working conditions that the employees enjoy. The positive environments we were introduced to clearly demonstrated sound working conditions, reflected in the desire to produce the best quality silk fabrics by the work force we met.

Conclusion

We are aware that all forms of textile printing will have an environmental impact – it’s just apparent that our digital textile printing methods are among the friendliest and that we at the Silk Bureau are striving to do our bit where ever possible while still meeting our customers demands. This does all come at a cost. We make no apologies for sourcing top quality products that abide by commercial ethical standards. We are proud to be a conscientious British company abiding by British manufacturing standards. As our customers, we are aware of how passionate you also are about our environmental impact and the part we all play in protecting our environment.

“Digital textile printing equipment reduce textile waste as well as power consumption. Further, water wastage and ink consumption are also reduced by the use of digital textile printing equipment.”- Textinel 2019 

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