Considerations When Evaluating FR/AR Apparel

Over the past few years, a number of FR/AR fabrics have come to market. Why is it important to buy a brand-name fabric certified to testing standards?

There is more than one set of testing standards to consider. Buying a brand-name fabric certified to thermal hazard standards is of the highest importance to protect the wearer, but what is seldom considered is certification to environmental testing standards. By identifying and working with fabric manufacturers that prioritize sustainable practices, you can impact the overall sustainability of garments.

Several organizations and/or certification programs provide sustainability oversight to the FR/AR clothing industry, including OEKO-TEX®. More than 60 Westex fabrics carry the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX certification. The certification signifies that our products have been tested and found to contain no harmful substances.

What sustainability initiatives has Westex undertaken specific to FR/AR fabrics?

Sustainability is always top of mind in everything we do. Here are three of our key initiatives:

  1. The Magnolia Plant, where our fabrics are manufactured, now creates energy using cogenerated steam to run its operations.
  2. We construct each of our blend fabrics with TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers. These fibers have gained a reputation for their environmentally responsible closed-loop production process. This process transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibers with high resource efficiency.
  3. Our net-zero commitment is another milestone in a long history of proactive sustainability efforts. Milliken & Company is one of the first 50 companies globally to achieve approval by SBTi. Of those 50, only five are manufacturing companies.

What benefits are there from the Westex initiatives mentioned above?

  1. Cogenerated steam in our dyeing and finishing process increases energy efficiency by 20%. This improvement reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and eliminates 1,000 tons of coal annually as the primary steam fuel source.
  2. The Westex product development team actively researches and tests new fibers, like the TENCEL Lyocell cellulosic fibers, to help improve product circularity without compromising expected protection and comfort.
  3. As a supplier, we are considered scope 3 for our customers. By raising the bar on our net-zero targets, we will help our customers meet their sustainability goals and challenge the global market to do the same.

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