What are you doing to make your production more efficient and sustainable?
Our business has grown enormously in the last few years and so there has been an almost constant investment in warping and weaving machines to increase capacity. Production on our new machines is more than three times faster, making us much more efficient. Our investment in new machinery and processes is now almost complete. Part of this includes a state-of-the-art dyeing facility and the first UK wool-finishing department to open for many decades. The aim is to improve our competitiveness, make us more responsive to the needs of Kvadrat, and to reduce our impact on the environment.
The new machines we have installed use much less energy and water. For example, our new dyeing machines use only a few litres of water per kilogram of wool in comparison to 20 litres previously. 85% of the water we use is recycled and we employ solar energy for some of the power in the mill. We are also exploring the possibility of finishing fabrics without the need for any chemicals or water at all! In addition, Wooltex is a virtually zero waste company and we recycle all our cardboard, oil, plastics, etc.
Protecting the environment is very important to everyone at Wooltex and we of course specialise in one of the most sustainable of all fibres: wool. Wool is natural, sustainable; it is biodegradable, energy efficient - if it were invented today, it would be called a wonder fibre!
How has your wool production changed over the years? Or is fundamentally the same as it has always been?
The basic principles of wool manufacturing have changed little. However, machinery used today is faster, more efficient, computer controlled, and is more environmentally friendly. There is a strong sense of tradition in this industry but people are very adaptable to change and improvement.
What are the future ambitions of the mill in terms of sustainability?
The mill is already accredited to ISO 9000 and we expect to achieve ISO 14000 by the end of this year. We will continue to monitor energy usage and look at alternative sources of water and the most energy efficient machines. We are also increasingly careful with our building, we make sure it is well insulated, uses LED lighting and we are even currently trying to reduce noise for the benefit of our neighbours (the mill still sits alongside the homes of our workers as it always did). We are even working with Kvadrat on an exciting project, still in its early stages, to make use of our waste yarn.