July 25, 2021

‘A company needs to embrace sustainability at 360 degrees’

5 min read

Reda Group, an Italian wool fabric manufacturer following a careful path toward sustainability, recently announced that it will soon be applying the ZQRX protocol to its partners in New Zealand. The SPIN OFF asked Ercole Botto Poala, CEO, how this will happen and what the company’s strategy in this direction is.

Can you tell us about applying the ZQRX protocol? Why is it so important for you to join it?
We decided to join ZQRX (ZQ Regenerative Index), the platform for people, companies and organizations to collaborate and monitor their performance in the field of sustainability, in order to assess their strengths and areas for improvement. We are applying this protocol to our partners in New Zealand, asking them to measure their farm management performance and go beyond the traditional concept of sustainability to understand the complex interactions between animal welfare, land, climate and the community in which they operate. ZQRX fully interprets and carries out the ethics and values of what is called “regenerative agriculture,” which aims to minimize the exploitation of the land, aiming to improve its fertility. This is made possible by combining ancient techniques and modern technologies and acting on minerals, organic matter and microbiology and reactivating the natural cycles. Regenerative agriculture means creating a better future, positive and rich in resources for the planet and the generations to come. ZQRX approaches regenerative agriculture by also focusing on the principles and practices that can be applied to improve animal welfare and social responsibility performance.

What steps will you take to make sure your partners follow these standards?
The collaboration between New Zealand Merino Company and us to purchase raw material exclusively from farms that hold the Zque certification also known as “Ethical Wool” (https://www.discoverzq.com/) has been going on since 2009. This certification combines the natural performance of wool with a program to ensure environmental respect, economic development and social responsibility, along with animal welfare.

Sheep whose wool is used according to the ZQ Regenerative Index

Sheep whose wool is used according to the ZQ Regenerative Index

Can you list the main sustainable objectives Reda Group has already achieved?
Our journey towards sustainability began in 2004, at a time when no one was talking about sustainability and traceability. Over the years, our commitment to safeguarding the environment has only strengthened to the point where we have officially become the first textile company in Italy and one of the first in the world to receive B Corporation certification. Being B Corp shows that there is a different way of doing business, a way that produces profit but, at the same time, generates a positive impact on people and the environment, and it is precisely in these two areas that our wool mill has particularly distinguished itself during the rigorous process of evaluation and control.

Our vocation for sustainability translates into a continuous and constant commitment to safeguarding the environment through the creation of sustainable fabrics and a transparent and environmentally friendly production cycle. Undertaking a sustainable growth means assuming responsibilities of government and process, monitoring current and prospective risks, paying the utmost attention to the integrity, safety and protection of people, respect for the environment and traceability of the supply chain. We obtained the first certification (EMAS – Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) in 2004 and since then we have invested to improve performance in all areas, from the reduction of environmental impact to continuous analysis (such as LCA – Life Cycle Assessment – and EPD – Environmental Product Declarations) until the creation of the Sustainability Report in 2020.

What are the goals you promise to achieve within the next five to ten years in the process area?
In 2020 the global pandemic and various lockdowns gave us a new opportunity to think about the future and we had to figure out how best to get back to business and create a system that would drive meaningful action toward a better, even kinder and more positive future for the planet. This gave us a projection of how digitization is a key asset for the coming years, and it’s an investment we’ve been working on for a long time now.

For this reason, in September 2020, we launched the digital platform Reda 4.0 that allows our customers to access all collections: it is an innovative tool designed to allow users to access our wide range of fabrics with a few simple clicks. By accessing Reda 4.0, users will be able to browse the collections in a sustainable, intelligent, efficient and independent way. The contingency situation we faced led us to create dedicated samples for each customer based on the selection made on the app. This allowed us to significantly reduce the waste of sample production and focus only on their choices.

Reda's sustainable Back2Life capsule collection

Reda’s sustainable Back2Life capsule collection

And what about in the product area?
As far as the product is concerned, we have been working on recycled fibers since 2019, where at Milano Unica we presented the recycled carded flannel, a project that we have re-proposed in this edition as well, taking the concept forward with the sustainable Back2Life capsule collection. This collection stems from the desire to give a new life to excess fibers from the production cycle, allowing us to minimize waste and encourage the process toward a truly circular economy, for a new concept of elegance. This project represents a concrete step toward a demand that is becoming an unavoidable need in the fashion industry.

During the last opening conference of Milano Unica, Renzo Rosso, Confindustria delegate for excellence, underlined that it is more important to follow an overall lifestyle and company strategy that are attentive to nature, rather than simply offer products with a low impact. How do you think about that?
We share this kind of thinking, in the sense that a company needs to embrace sustainability at 360 degrees, not simply by launching a product with sustainable features and not having other practices in place. This is the reason why we decided to become B Corp certified: in fact, B Corporations are companies that adopt a model of sustainable development, pursued through the sharing of the value generated (economic sustainability), personal growth and a positive impact in the communities in which they operate (social sustainability) and respect for the environment.

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