Texon has joined TransFIRe (Transforming Foundation Industries Research and Innovation Hub) – the UK consortium facilitating research and development, technology transfer, and new business projects across the UK’s foundation industries, to help the country achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
Reinforcing its own commitment to sustainability and its determination to achieve zero waste across its operations, Texon will work closely with academics, industry partners, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the TransFIRe hub on a number of innovation initiatives. Using £4.7M (GBP) of funding from UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and matching in-kind contributions, TransFIRe participants will strive to optimise the flow and use of resources in the manufacture of materials – focusing on six sectors that account for about 10% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions. Industries in question include cement, ceramics, chemicals, glass, metals and paper.
As the global leader in structural components for footwear, as well as performance fabrics, Texon is part of the chemicals and paper supply chain. The business purchases raw materials – including polymer chemistries and cellulose – from the foundation industries for the manufacture of its own products. Working with major global footwear, fashion and apparel brands, Texon is constantly searching for new sustainable materials and processes to reduce its environmental footprint.
Explaining more, Boyd Mulder, Director of NPDI, Marketing and Sustainability at Texon, said: “TransFIRe’s work perfectly complements our own strategic interests and research needs. At Texon, we’ve been on a sustainability journey for several decades. Two years ago, we ramped up this work, publicly declaring our ambition to achieve zero waste by 2025. As a global team we are now working hard to cut our carbon footprint by 50%; reduce our use of virgin materials by 50%; recycle and reuse 90% of our waste; and reduce our water use and water waste by 20%. However, we are conscious that achieving true sustainability also requires collaboration – particularly within and across complex supply chains.”
“Wherever possible we are keen to set up and contribute to circular networks that can close the loop on waste. As TransFIRe’s planned programme gathers momentum, we look forward to working with hub partners to find new uses for by-products and waste, and more carbon efficient ways of working that are less water, resource and energy intensive. Over the next three years we will be offering the TransFIRe consortium the use of our manufacturing facilities and our staff expertise as well as material goods that can advance specific strands of research. This is an exciting project to be involved in, which will deliver far-reaching benefits for the UK as it works towards net zero, but also for our own business and that of our customers.”
TransFIRe has been created in response to the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is tackling some of the biggest innovation challenges of our time – while also creating jobs and building prosperity.
The consortium is led by Professor Mark Jolly, Director of Manufacturing at Cranfield University. Commenting on Texon’s involvement, he said: “Having companies such as Texon in the TransFIRe consortium is essential to achieving Net Zero targets. Access to the company’s facilities and supply chain from two of the foundation industry sectors brings great strength to the partnership. Texon’s declared aims of not only reducing CO2 but also improving resource efficiency by cutting raw materials’ dependency by 50% completely aligns with the Hub vision.”
“The Foundation Industries play a vital role in the UK economy but there is so much more we can do to help them develop into cleaner and more sustainable businesses. With progress in AI and digital manufacturing there is a real opportunity to transform these industries through the implementation of new technologies. For too long, the Foundation Industries have been dismissed as too difficult to green, too difficult to modernise and too difficult to diversify. TransFIRe shows that the commitment is there from academia, industry and Government to take on those challenges and transform the Foundation Industries that have for generations played such as vital role in the UK economy.”
Bringing key industry players together, TransFIRe has three core focus areas:
- Transferring best practice: Across the foundation industries there are many processes that are similar. TransFIRe will identify best practice techniques that can reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing. It will then share information horizontally to enable wider adoption.
- Creating new materials and process opportunities: Key to the transformation of the foundation industries will be the development of smart new materials and processes that enable cheaper, lower-energy and lower-carbon products. Supporting research and technology development, TransFIRe will address these needs, looking – for example – at material waste streams that could be used as raw materials in other sectors, with little or no further processing.
- Working with communities to co-develop new business and social enterprises: Large volumes of warm air and water are produced across the foundation industries, providing opportunities for low grade energy capture. Collaboratively, with communities situated close to the foundation industries, TransFIRe will identify the potential for co-located initiatives such as district heating or market gardening projects.
The TransFIRe consortium is made up of 20 academics from 12 universities, more than 60 companies and 14 non-governmental organisations related to the foundation industries – as well as companies specialising in energy mapping, life cycle and sustainability, industrial symbiosis, computer science, AI and digital manufacturing, management, social science and technology transfer.
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