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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Jan/Feb 2000 : Eco-smart Licensing

Eco-smart Licensing

What happens when a manufacturer grants its competitor a license to develop an ecologically sound product? The hope is that it will eventually force an entire industry to clean up its act.

DesignTex Fabrics has granted Carnegie, a competitor, a license to develop ecologically sound fabrics using technology unique to DesignTex’s William McDonough Collections. Known as Climatex Lifecycle, the patented construction process creates fabrics that are environmentally friendly from cradle to grave.

This unprecedented agreement was formed to encourage the textile industry to clean up its textile manufacturing process and to introduce more eco-safe designs, according to Tom Hamilton, DesignTex president at the time of the agreement. “We bear the responsibility to do what is right not only for our associates and customers but also for the industry at large. By sharing our exclusive Climatex Lifecycle protocol with Carnegie, we will expand the number of customers and users that will have access to this process. More importantly, the combined efforts of both companies will dramatically increase the amount of environmentally perfect products used in our market.”

Added Cliff Goldman, Carnegie president, “This collaboration is good for the environment, and good for the economics of both companies. We are happy to have the technology because we believe in it, and have since we first saw it. The collaboration is natural because the philosophies of both companies are similar.”

DesignTex, which launched its Sustainable Initiatives program in the early 1990s, has worked with William A. McDonough to develop environmentally intelligent upholstery fabrics. These textiles are made in collaboration with McDonough, Rohner Textile AG and McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC). The patented Climatex Lifecycle process incorporates biodegradable fibers and re-engineered chemical manufacturing technology. At the end of their life as upholstery, fabrics can be composted without negative environmental impact. The textiles are safe in every respect: for the workers producing them, for the end users and for the environment. Byproducts of the production process are designed for use in other systems, achieving what McDonough and his partners in MBDC term “eliminating the concept of waste.” Selvage and fabric trimmings create felt that local Swiss agribusiness purchase for ground cover and plant insulation. The felt decomposes gradually and feeds the organisms in the soil. Climatex Lifecycle products incorporate a patented construction of worsted wool and ramie blend that wicks away moisture and keeps the user cool, dry and comfortable.


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