Opportunities exist for businesses in the textiles and fashion industry to reduce operating costs and make significant savings by taking actions to reduce materials and energy use.
The following guide was developed by the Council of Textiles and Fashion Industries of Australia, with funding provided by Sustainability Victoria.
Top tips for improving materials efficiency
What is the true cost of your waste?
It might not actually cost much to have a bin emptied – but it costs you a lot to fill it up. Bins, even recycling bins are full of your materials and packaging that haven’t made it into finished product.
Have a look in your bins each week and work out where the waste is coming from: Spillage, off-cuts, inaccurate cutting, mistakes, reject product, packaging, over- production?
The true cost of waste factors in the energy used to process the material on site, the handling and storage costs associated with the waste materials and the proportional purchase price of the unused materials. Taking into account all these costs, the real cost of waste to a business can be far greater than simply the cost of paying someone to take it away. See Nobody Denim case study.
Find how to reuse waste and improve your business productivity.
Reduce reject product
Always look to reduce reject and re-work rates, by setting targets and tracking progress against them. Any wastage rate can be improved on!
Match roll lengths and widths to suit – you are still buying or producing all the material that ends up as trim, even if you are able to recycle it. Is there scope to fine-tune your process to reduce or even eliminate trim and off-cuts?
Measure and cut accurately first time.
There are opportunities to re-use trim and off-cut for a range of uses, such as stuffing for toys, pillows, and furniture. Trim can be used for rope manufacture.
Upcycle finished garments to charity.
Design products that are readily recyclable.
- Can you adjust your product to suit what recyclers can take?
- Can you make the same product out of a more recyclable material or from a single fibre? Some blends are difficult to recycle and so waste needs to go to landfill.
You spend money disposing of packaging material. It costs to have it taken away and your people spend valuable time handling it.
Reduce your packaging – talk to your customers about how you could supply them with less packaging. Talk to your suppliers about how they could supply you without packaging, or with less.
Do you re-use packaging you receive to package your goods? Can you develop a reusable packaging solution with your packaging supplier or buy in bulk?
There are Victorian businesses that will pay for recyclable materials like plastics. Find out who they are, what volumes they need and whether you can regularly supply them. Look at what systems you might need, to ensure they are clean enough, stockpiled or baled to suit the recycler.
Pallets – insist on pallets that you can re- use, or that your suppliers take them back. Single-use pallets take up valuable space on your site and cost you money to get rid of.
Find out more about reducing and reusing packaging.
Top tips for improving energy efficiency
These tips will help reduce your electricity consumption and demand to help keep those bills down!
The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use. Many businesses can save up to 15 per cent on their energy costs by simply switching off appliances and lights that aren’t being used – especially over-night and weekends. Use timers, sensors and remote switches.
Make sure your equipment has stand-by settings, so that they can rest as soon as they’re not producing. With high-energy machines like stenters and dryers, this can save thousands of dollars per year.
Most businesses pay electricity demand charges based on their highest demand period during the month – even if it’s just for ½ an hour! Have a look at your energy consumption pattern to see if you can cut your demand charges with some simple scheduling – without affecting production.
Are there processes that you can shift to off-peak power? Can you run some systems overnight when the power is cheaper? Also, if you run multiple shifts, you might be able to schedule maintenance shut-downs for peak power times, so that you’re not shut down while the power is cheapest.
Look for opportunities to use direct heat rather than steam – huge savings are possible by replacing steam tubes with direct gas heaters. Check burners regularly to maintain efficiency.
Victoria’s buildings can be cold in winter and hot in summer – especially older factory buildings. Insulate to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. Good airflow will help the heat escape in summer.
Insulating steam and hot water lines
Don’t lose all that valuable heat: insulate! Keep the lines as short as possible and get them checked regularly for blockages. Catch the condensate for boiler re-use. Find out more about improving efficiency of hot water and steam systems.
Don’t overload dryers – and don’t under-load them either! 'Pre-treat' before drying with a spin cycle, rollers, or 'pre-heat' with waste heat.
General heating and cooling
Get rid of the air heaters and replace them with direct Infra-red heaters – Only heat the areas where people are working. Learn more about improving the efficiency of HVAC systems.
Heat exchange units capture the heat from the wastewater of one batch to use in the next, saving lots of energy. Also capture heat from flues.
Compressed air is widely used in TCF, and good air system management is essential as even small leaks can cost thousands of dollars.
- Keep pressure as low as you can to do to the job. Regularly check for leaks and keep the air inlet filters clean.
- Position the air intake in a cool, shaded spot and keep the compressor well shaded and ventilated.
- Don’t overuse it – use brooms for sweeping – not compressed air!
Learn about improving the efficiency of compressors.
Pumps, motors, fans
If the loads change on any pumps, motors and fans, consider retrofitting Variable Speed Drives (VSD). Buy only ultra-high efficiency motors when upgrading. Learn more about installing VSDs and savings possible, plus case studies.
Efficient Lights save energy, reduce demand and with newer long-life technology, save significantly in maintenance costs. Consider:
- Extra switches so you can turn off areas while not being used.
- Efficient luminaires such as LED or T5 high bays.
- Welcome Natural Light into your business. Keep skylights and windows clean and consider fitting lux controls to your lights to switch them all off when there is good light natural light coming in.
Find out about options for lighting upgrades for your business.
Buying new equipment
Always look out for the most efficient equipment when buying new – consider the lifetime running cost.
Nobody Denim, was surprised to find the true cost of waste, and achieved some impressive waste, chemical and energy savings with a subsidised resource assessment and capital grant provided by Sustainability Victoria. See the Nobody Denim case study.
Watch a short video detailing how Victoria Carpets has cut costs and boosted productivity at its Bendigo Mill, including lighting, heating and drying efficiency.
Sustainability Victoria has a number of other energy and materials efficiency case studies across other sectors available.
Other case studies
Geofabrics Australasia implemented a range of waste and energy initiatives at their Albury site, including compressor efficiency, power factor correction and process design to reduce waste, saving over $500,000 per annum. See the case study.
Beaulieu Pacific in Queensland made substantial energy cost savings by scheduling stenting machines to reduce demand charges. See the case study.
Further cost savings were made at Beaulieu Pacific with a high bay lighting project. See the case study.
For the full set of resources developed by the Council of Textiles & Fashion Industries of Australia visit their web site: www.tfia.com.au.
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