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Rush Is On For Eco-Friendly Fair Trade Fabrics

The Demand is rising for eco-friendly fabric made from the fibres of the bammboo plant.
by Claire Rosemberg
Paris (AFP) Feb 23, 2007
As consumers wake up to global warming and globalisation, ethical issues are gaining ground and spinning more and more hard cash in the competitive world of international textiles. Organic cottons along with fabrics spun from bamboo, soybean protein fibre, seaweed and ramie -- an ages old fibre crop used in mummy cloths in ancient Egypt -- took centre-stage at a major textile trade fair held in Paris this week, Texworld.

And textile ground-breaker Tencel, one of the world's leading companies highlighting health and environmental concerns, said business was on the up and up.

"Demand for organic cotton is gaining momentum," Ram Srinivasan, general manager marketing for Indian firm KG Denim Limited told AFP.

One of 830 exhibitors at the trade fair, more than half of them from Asia, his firm began producing organic cotton back in 2000 but was forced to give up due to lack of demand before three years ago re-launching a now successful 100-percent green fibre-to-fashion line -- from spinning the yarn to producing the garments.

"It was too early at the time," he said. "Now people have realised that organic is natural and environment-friendly. "It's up to 30 percent more expensive but there's a growing niche market for the upper-middle classes."

Based in both Mauritius and Madagascar, Groupe Socota too said sales were burgeoning in fabrics respecting the principles of fair trade that give marginalised producers a bigger share of profits. "It's very big because of the ethical advantages," said sales executive Sarah Bower. "Organic hasn't taken off as well yet, but with global warming it soon will."

Socota uses clean cotton grown in Cameroon which is then spun in Madagascar, woven in Madagascar and Mauritius, and turned into garments in Madagascar.

Its top customer currently is Britain's Marks and Spencers, which has launched a men's shirt range in fair-trade cotton that enables buyers to check the history of the garment on, a consumer tracking system for clothes that uses a code sewn into the garment during manufacture.

Like many textile firms offering certified organic cotton, Hong Kong's Bros Holding Limited buys its cotton from Turkey, currently the world's leading producer with the United States, followed by India, Peru and Uganda.

But as buyers worldwide increasingly look to eco-friendly fabrics, the ground-breakers in the field are having to look beyond purely environmental concerns to market their goods.

Austrian firm Lenzing, which produces the new-age Tencel fibre made of wood pulp that revolutionised textiles in the 1990s, claimed at the fair that the fibre was perfect for people with sensitive skin.

"We have learnt that this fibre is very good for people who have skin problems," Dieter Eichinger, the firm's global marketing director, told AFP. The company, he said, was conducting tests in different countries to show its role in helping people afflicted by neurodermatitis, psoriasis and skin irritations in general.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Light Carbon-Fiber Structure Protects Heavy Space Cargo
Kirtland AFB NM (SPX) Feb 22, 2007
With a successful, inaugural performance during the launch of the TacSat2 micro satellite in December, an innovative, lightweight space cargo accommodation technology, comprised of carbon fibers and epoxy forming beams and an outer skin, delivered on the expectations of scientists serving with the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., who established the foundation for this project almost 13 years ago.

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