Plastic bag charges, vegan diets, electric cars and re-usable cups. Environmental issues are certainly en vogue. Eco-movements have sprung up to challenge the environmental impact of certain industries and whether they want to or not, companies are now competing to show consumers exactly how sustainable their operations are.

So why then is one industry that prides itself on staying ahead of the curve, still lagging behind? Environmental awareness is not ‘the new black’ for the fashion industry just yet. Generally, consumers still want the latest fashions as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible… regardless of the impact on the environment.  

Seasonal collections are a thing of the past and designers now work on ‘micro runs’, constantly churning out new fashion lines. What Meghan Markle wore yesterday, is a bestselling purchase today, and in the bargain bin tomorrow (or later tonight!). But the furious pace at which the industry works is not sustainable.

The manufacturing of textiles relies on an extremely water-intensive process. From the dyeing, printing and finishing stages, it accounts for roughly 20% of global wastewater (5 trillion litres / 2 million Olympic sized swimming pools / 2 Mediterranean Oceans). And the problem extends beyond the manufacturing process where water waste is often not treated to remove pollutants before it’s disposed of.

We believe that a company’s impact mainly stems from the sustainability of the products and services it provides. We also favour new technologies that provide solutions to pressing environmental or social problems. Kornit design and manufacture digital printing machines for textile industries. They also produce the ink used in the colouring process.

So what is it about Kornit that we like?

  1. Waterless – Kornit machines utilise a 100% waterless process. No pre-treatments, steaming or washing is required during the printing process.  
  2. No toxins – Their NeoPigment inks are non-hazardous, non-toxic and biodegradable. Kornit have a great understanding of the regulatory environment they work in and their inks currently fulfil the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (approval for children’s apparel). They also have the Global Organic Textiles approval that ensures the inks are eco-friendly in their production and usage.
  3. Microruns – Kornit’s machines are excellent at dealing with smaller design runs. The traditional model takes too long and produces too much, leading to unwanted garments that are wasted. Digital printing can meet the demand in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way.

On top of all that? Their whole process has no problem with printing directly onto organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo fabrics that can create a truly environmentally friendly product.

Consumer demand looks less willing to change in this instance, which enables industries to keep the status quo. But when technologies like Kornit’s offers a more efficient process AND is better for the environment, it can really begin to shift the dial.

About the author

Euan Ker is a Sustainable Investment Analyst. He is responsible for analysing and monitoring environmental, social and governance factors within the Global Sustainable Equity Strategy. Euan joined us in 2014 as an investment implementation analyst with responsibility for implementing macro investment decisions across a number of fund-of-fund mandates, totaling some £13 billion under management. Prior to moving to the ESG Research team in 2018 his responsibilities also included asset class, regional and currency hedging overlays through derivatives. Euan has a 1st Class Honours degree in Management with Economics from Robert Gordon University. He has the IMC professional qualification and has 5 years’ industry experience.*  *As at 30 November 2018.

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