At Wolford, we have always been aware of our responsibility towards the environment and society and are proud
of our past achievements in the field of Sustainability. However, as innovation is in our DNA, we continuously strive to exceed
expectations and raise industry standards. We are beyond excited to combine what defines us as a company
with a cause that is so important to us.
Conversely, at least four of the remaining planetary boundaries, namely Climate Change, Genetic Diversity, Land-system Change and Biogeochemical Flows, are either within the zone of uncertainty or have already surpassed it. As a result, experts can infer that the Earth is threatened by continuous warming, rising sea levels and negative developments in Earth system processes, including the pollution of aquatic and terrestrial systems and the loss of biodiversity. To banish a whole host of social ills by 2030, including those mentioned above, the United Nations has introduced 17 Development Goals such as Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Gender Equality.
The EU Environment Program further illustrates why Sustainability is inevitable. Out of the nine identified planetary boundaries which are defined as: “the safe operating space for humanity, that carries a low likelihood of harming the life support systems of Earth to such an extent that they no longer are able to support economic growth and human development”, only Ocean Acidification, Stratospheric Ocean Depletion and Freshwater Use are considered safe.
The UN defines Sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”. Unfortunately, today the world may be further away from this goal than ever as we consume resources at a rate that would require those of two planets.
If we continue to exploit our planet, especially in light of a rapidly growing population coupled with an increase in consumption, future generations will be confronted with a significantly lower standard of living as we have today. Therefore, Sustainability cannot be seen as a voluntary contribution but has to be regarded as a necessity- in the end Sustainability means survival.
These ambitious goals require global action at multiple levels- complementing efforts from individuals,
companies, nations and supranational institutions and organizations. Multi-level efforts are especially
important assuming that the many environmental issues are, not at least, caused by the fact that air and water is
not owned by anyone and many parties acto according to their own self-interest as opposed to the common good.
In 2016, Wolford voluntarily signed a target agreement with klimaaktiv, a climate protection initiative of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. Through the development and provision of quality standards, the training of experts, consulting and a grand network of partners, klimaaktiv encourages energy transition. This includes climate protection, emissions reduction and an increase in energy efficiency. In the context of the signed target agreement, Wolford pledges to continuously identify and implement measures to improve energy efficiency. To date, Wolford has already introduced hot water and steam systems that resulted in an annual reduction of 300 tones of CO2 and cost savings of approximately EUR 60.000 per year.
Additionally, in the same year, Wolford has received the ISO 50001 certificate,
an energy efficiency standard introduced by the International Organization for Standardization.
This implies that Wolford adheres to requirements specifying the implementation, maintenance and improvement
of an energy management system, allowing for a systematic approach to continuously improve energy performance,
including energy efficiency, energy use and energy consumption.
Cradle to Cradle®
Wolford’s newest ambition on the path to Sustainable Development is a Cradle to Cradle® certified hosiery and lingerie collection that is safe for the biological cycle. By diverging from the linear system of production, consumption and disposal, Cradle to Cradle® offers a holistic approach that combines economic interests with environmental and social responsibilities. As opposed to recycling, which often entails the unsustainable treatment of repurposed materials and only postpones the waste issue, Cradle to Cradle® imitates the ingenuity of nature by designing products that account for the use of materials after their useful life has come to an end.
More specifically, all materials used in Cradle to Cradle® products are completely safe and able to circulate infinitely in either the biological or the technical cycle. Biological nutrients are organic materials that can be safely disposed in the natural environment, feeding the soil once the product biodegrades.
Technical nutrients, on the other hand, are strictly limited to non-toxic,
non-harmful materials that have no negative effects on the natural environment and can be cycled
as the same product without losing their integrity or their quality. In this manner, these nutrients can be used
over and over again in the technical cycle instead of directly resulting in waste or being “down cycled” into
lesser products, and ultimately becoming waste.
With the help of COIN (Collaborative Innovation Network), a consortium that brings together fifteen companies,
all located in Vorarlberg (Austria) and producing Cradle to Cradle® individual components for the lingerie
and hosiery industry, to navigate the complexity of moving away from a linear into a circular production,
we were able to develop our fist Cradle to Cradle® certified hosiery and lingerie collection.
This collection will be introduced in AW 18/19 and will feature INFINITO, MODAL and ROICA- three materials that are all
eligible for the biological cycle. INFINITO is an environmentally friendly polymer that can be safely returned to the biological
cycle through composting. This has not only been confirmed by the scientific consulting institute EPEA,
following comprehensive investigations and testing, but is also reflected in the Cradle to Cradle® Gold
certificate that this fiber has received, meaning that every single ingredient is safe for the chosen cycle.
INFINITO is an environmentally friendly polymer that can be safely returned to the biological cycle through composting. This has not only been confirmed by the scientific consulting institute EPEA, following comprehensive investigations and testing, but is also reflected in the Cradle to Cradle® Gold certificate that this fiber has received, meaning that every single ingredient is safe for the chosen cycle. While using a man-made fiber may seem counter intuitive, commonly used natural materials such as cotton, silk and wool are often worse for the environment in terms of water scarcity, global warming, eutrophication and abiotic resource depletion.
MODAL is a natural fiber produced by the Austrian company Lenzing Modal.
After processing sustainably forested beechwood into wood pulp, a multi-stage chemical-technological
process referred to as “viscose process” is used essentially to produce, spin,
stretch, cut, treat and dye viscose, resulting in a finished viscose fiber.
Finally, the ROICA Eco Smart is a unique man-made yarn that has the important purpose of adding elasticity
to our Cradle to Cradle® lingerie and hosiery collection. As with all other materials used in this collection, the Hohenstein
Institute assures with the “Environmental Compatibility” certificate that ROICA can be safely
returned to the biological cycle through composing after disposal.