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Best Practice Achievements
2019: We continue to update our older looms with newer, more efficient technology. Plans are in process, for a new, energy-neutral warehouse that will use no lighting in automated sections of work.
2018: We continue to research lower water-consumption options for dyeing and finishing along with our dyehouse and washing partners. We are investing in upgrades of looms for better, more efficient and energy-efficient looms. We have plans in the works for a major streamlining of physical plant operations to better utilize our energy output within our plants, aiming for completion in the next 3-5 years.
2016: Weaving with wind energy.
On July 1st linen producer Libeco switched to a new source of green electricity. The entire mill is now powered by wind energy known as ‘Seanergy’. Just as the North Sea wind provides the ideal climate for flax, so too this salty breeze now supplies energy for Belgium’s largest linen producer.
“The use of wind turbine energy is wonderfully symbolic for us”, Raymond Libeert, CEO of Libeco, begins by explaining. “Our sector relies entirely on our temperate local climate to provide the world’s best flax. The fact that our looms are now also powered by North Sea wind makes this story complete.“
Libeco is highly motivated when it comes to sustainable business practices, industrial processes, and ecology. The West-Flemish company is CO2 neutral for the second year running. The results of their most recent study in August have now given them a target of a total annual CO2 reduction of 261 tons. By virtue of various steps taken in recent years, the company reduced its original emissions by a staggering 37%. The remaining emissions are offset in Uganda, where Libeco supports a climate project that reduces the remainder of the emissions.
“It is an ongoing process involving daily decisions designed to make our operations more sustainable. But it is something we owe our planet and our natural raw materials. Linen is one of the most durable fabrics in the world and we believe this approach will be very important in the future. We have noticed an increasing awareness of ecology and of the environmental cost of products among our clients and we can only applaud that.”
As yet Libeco is unable to say much about its plans for the near future, other than that new studies have been commissioned to decide what its next step towards a more sustainable future will be.
With Seanergy Electrabel, ENGIE Group guarantees that the electricity it supplies was produced entirely by wind turbines located in the maritime area under Belgian jurisdiction.
The best quality flax grows in the region between Caen (France) and Amsterdam (Netherlands) with Flanders (Belgium) in-between. Our moderate temperatures and the combination of sun and rain promote the growth of flax here and ensure that it is of the highest quality. The North Sea wind plays an important role in creating this climate and supplying the all-important rain
After its first CO2 study in 2011, Libeco launched an integrated ecological plan in partnership with CO2logic, a company specialized in measuring and reducing CO2 emissions. Measures implemented in recent years include the switch to renewable energy, the installation of LED lighting and 1,252 solar panels, the acquisition of an environment-friendly fleet of vehicles and the optimization of waste-processing.
Last year Libeco launched a collection of biological linen. Fabrics, as well as finished products in the form of bed linen, are available. The complete production process was certified with the Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS for short, which guarantees that the collection is produced according to the most ecologically and socially sound criteria, and without the addition of harmful substances, from the flax seeds through to the finished product.
In June 2014 the company was awarded a ‘Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Silver label’ for all its loomstate fabrics. The label is only bestowed on products which are regarded as safe for humans and the environment, designed for future life cycles and produced in sustainable manufacturing processes. At the end of August 2015, the label was renewed for a further two years.
2014: Full CO2 neutrality just awarded. Off-setting in place for functions we cannot completely be neutral on, but further reductions without offsets are goals for this year and next.
2019: We renew our Oeko-tex certificate every year and continue our partnership with the GOTS-certified farming co-op we started partnership with in 2012. We are committed to using the best dyestuffs and continue to utilizing more reactive dyes to minimize how much chemistry goes into our products. We are investing in research and trials for fluorine-free, performant Stain-repellant treatments to eliminate the use of C6 versions.
Libeco renewed its commitment in 2018 to providing safer products for your home by certifying all of our dyed and undyed products as Oeko-Tex Standard 100. We continue to use only non-toxic dyestuffs and Hydrogen-based (non-chlorine) bleaches and recycle and return our water, making it cleaner than it was when first pulled from the river.
We have recently entered into partnership with one of our larger yarn suppliers in a program we call "Terre de Lin." It is a 100% traceable linen from the farm where it is grown, all the wy through the chain of custody to the woven goods that are sold. We believe people are increasingly interested in verifying company's claims of eco-conscious practices and are happy to be as transparent as possible in this area of our production.
2016: Flax neutralizes CO2:
Libeco requires more than 7000 acres of flax per year to weave their fabrics (approximately 4500 soccer fields or 11 square miles). The flax plants on a single acre absorb more than one ton of CO2, so the flax required for the production of Libeco linen absorbs more than 12 000 tons of CO2 every year! The current annual CO2 emission of the company is 500 tons.
Flax is naturally sustainable:
The ecological score of linen is exceptionally high. Flax is a natural fiber that does not require irrigation and hardly any plant-protection products. There is no waste material as all parts of the plant are used. Linen is also 100% biodegradable and recyclable. Flax is one of the most sustainable fibers in the world!
CO2 neutral company:
Libeco's mission has always prioritized sustainable policies. As of 2012, the company cooperated with CO2logic to measure and consistently reduce their CO2 emission. Four years later Libeco has achieved a 36.5% reduction of the annual CO2 emission. Since 2014, the remaining CO2 emission is compensated by supporting a climate project in Uganda. Libeco is proud to be a CO2 neutral company for more than two years!
Unique organic linen collection with GOTS certification:
Blessed by a sustainable raw material, the company is going the extra mile. Two years ago, Libeco launched a unique organic linen collection. Its complete production process has been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This guarantees an ecological and socially responsible production, without the addition of any hazardous substances.
Cradle to Cradle Silver certification:
Two rest products are produced when weaving linen: selvage and shearing dust. Libeco recycles these materials, which are used to produce new products such as paper or insulation material. This is but one of the reasons why the company received Cradle to Cradle Silver certification for all loomstate fabrics in 2014!
2014: We initiated programs for fully GOTS-certified Organic linens this year and intend that in future all of our linens should be certified. We will continue to grow this program.
2019: Our speaking engagements and presentations continue and, in 2019, the appearances are growing. We have partnered with SFC for a series of panel discussions called Sustainable.Timeless.Design, coming to a city near you! We actively promote the use of our eco-friendly certifications by our customers and retailers.
2018: We are growing our "education outreach" giving more and more seminars, speaking engagements and events to educate the public about our commitment to Flax, Linen and other natural fibers like wool, silk and others. We have published a book called "The Linen Craft" to aid in this educational outreach, which is available on our website through the Libecohomestores.com link. We also participated in the MastersofLinen "I love Linen" events throughout Europe in the first half of 2018, continuing into 2019 (ilovelinen.fr and .uk) and a Flax exhibition in Bruges in May www.flaxdna.be/en
2014: Our outreach, in social media and on our website, will continue to grow, as will partnerships with the 3rd party organizations to cross-market. We will hold more events focused on sustainability with our B2B and retail customers, which will reach the end-consumers as well. We will continue to build upon our existing educational seminars designed for our customers and the clients to understand linen, our ecological outreaches, and education about this side of the industry.
We will continue to look to promote, specifically all organic and ecological products and aspects of our company through free and paid media advertising.
We will offer our customers free marketing materials (labels, brochures, stickers, tags etc) to use on the products they buy from us to promote these aspects to their customers.
We will post our SFC Membership seal in our places of business, on our websites, and in our marketing materials to distribute to our staff, vendors, and customers.