Innovation yes, but sustainable. Industrie Chimiche Forestali is testing important eco-friendly innovations for the leather goods and footwear sectors
WWF Italy recently issued an alarm reminding us that 220 billion tons of chemicals are released into the environment every year worldwide and that more than 100 thousand toxic substances are on the market globally.
Sustainability is a global challenge. It affects everyone, indiscriminately. But how do we overcome global challenges?
It is necessary to think in a long-term perspective, to achieve a real cultural change in the business world. The key lies in innovation, as well as in the ability to integrate the concept of sustainability within business strategy. It is on the basis of this philosophy that Industrie Chimiche Forestali has shaped its business, which boasts more than a century. The company is a benchmark for the production of adhesives for the footwear, leather goods and automotive industries and specializes in the production of reinforcement fabrics for leather goods and footwear. Over the years, the company has invested in R&D to pursue many projects that move in the direction of less impactful, more transparent and traceable business activity. In short, in line with the well-being of people and the environment. We talk about this with ICF's Chief Operating Officer Marcello Taglietti, who has now also been appointed director of sustainability.
Sustainable innovation is your workhorse, at this juncture what's new?
"An important project, which we are pursuing with a large international group, is the debonding or "glue-bonding" adhesive, which is an adhesive that has an extraordinary holding performance, but thanks to a particular innovation, it is able to peel off on demand at the end of the product's life cycle, so as to encourage the reuse of its components as a second raw material for the creation of other products. For example, this innovation allows the sole to be separated from the upper and ensures that at the end of its life the shoe does not end up in the landfill, but can be disassembled to recycle some of its components."
What other innovations are you testing for the fashion sector?
"We are also studying a line of toe caps and spurs made from recycled materials from plant sources, with the aim of reducing the use of chemical components that have a greater environmental impact. Within our laboratory we are testing different types of natural materials to find the best performing ones and then apply for GRS certification on the product."
Can technology help with the environmental turnaround and sustainability?
"Absolutely. With the collaboration of a large international group and an Italian partner specialized in the field of automation, we are studying to develop a series of adhesives for soles suitable for automatic application, so as to eliminate the problem of solvent emission and reduce the danger for the operator. In addition, this special robotic technology, given the shortage of new skilled personnel that the footwear industry suffers from, would reduce training time for new personnel and keep costs down. Not to mention that, by optimizing production costs, it would create the opportunity to bring back to Italy part of the production located in Asia, giving further impetus to Made in Italy."