Movers & Shakers – September 2022: Flooding to impact cotton

In the dynamic and global textile fiber industry with its various manufacturing processes and end-uses, news and information is breaking on a daily basis. International Fiber Journal is tracking stories relevant to our industry from manmade to natural to bio-based fibers, innovations in nonwoven, woven, braided and technical textiles, technologies for additives, bonding, coatings and polymers, and applications from apparel to hygiene to transportation, and more. Here we will post news stories relevant to textile fibers and their downstream applications on an ongoing basis. Please check back for regular updates. If you have news that you feel should be added to this summary report, please email it to Ken Norberg at

Most recent update: September 19, 2022

Michael Jänecke to retire

Michael Jänecke

Michael Jänecke retires on January 1, 2023, after more than 30 years with Messe Frankfurt GmbH, Frankfurt/Germany. He has managed Techtextil since 1992, and in 2013 he took on the additional role of Show Director of Texprocess.

With expert knowledge and extensive industry experience, Jänecke has played a key role in shaping the leading international trade fairs and building them up to their current importance in the market. Following a continuous period of development and growth, this culminated in the biggest edition of Techtextil and Texprocess in 2019.

In close cooperation with Messe Frankfurt’s subsidiaries and exhibitors, Jänecke was responsible for the internationalization of the two leading trade fairs. Moreover, he expanded the synergies generated by Techtextil and Texprocess, which are now held jointly in Frankfurt/Germany and Atlanta, GA/USA. As an expert for the textile industry, he has supported partners, exhibitor advisory boards, committees, associations and visitors from all over the world with his wide-ranging specialist knowledge and wealth of experience.

Jänecke is succeeded by Sabine Scharrer, who will take over as Show Director of the leading international trade fairs, Techtextil and Texprocess, including the associated brand management.


Kraig Biocraft Laboratories engages textile expert to develop innovative yarns, fabrics using Dragon Silk

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc., the biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of spider silk, announced that it has contracted Jeff Dorton, a top textile expert, to assist the company in developing new and innovative yarns and fabrics utilizing Dragon Silk™.

Kraig Labs is leveraging Dorton’s expertise and proven record of innovation in textiles to create new and exciting composite yarns and fabrics utilizing spider silk. The initial customer for these yarns and fabrics will be Spydasilk Enterprises, the company’s joint venture apparel brand, headquartered in Singapore. Following the launch of Spydasilk apparel, the company plans to expand collaboration with Dorton to create several additional yarns and textiles, for applications spanning the performance and luxury textiles market and beyond.

Dorton brings a passion for material development, a proven track record of innovation, and a wealth of experience working with some of the best textile mills worldwide. He has led some of those most disruptive innovations in next-generation textiles that permeate the performance wear segment.

Utilizing his extensive network of mills and spinners around the globe, Dorton is currently working to drive the manufacture of the first spider silk fabrics.


Microban introduces new, patent-pending odor capture technology

Microban’s odor capture technology

Microban International has introduced Refresh™ – its newest, patent-pending, sustainable odor capture technology that is completely metal free. This innovative technology is proven to reduce odors by up to 93% on polyester and polyester-rich blends, even after 30 home launderings.

Microban is the global leader in antimicrobial and odor control technology, and has developed Refresh as part of its ongoing dedication to sustainable textiles manufacturing. This patent-pending formula is designed to address the needs of both manufacturers and consumers, by providing an effective solution to tackle permastink without relying on traditional heavy metal chemistries. Refresh is proven to effectively reduce odors on polyester and polyester-rich blends, including activewear, hunting gear and other apparel. By keeping garments fresher for longer, this technology will allow end-users to enjoy the benefits of washing items less frequently and therefore reduce water consumption and fiber pollution, preventing premature disposal and decreasing landfill loading. It also allows manufacturers to reduce their use of pesticidal chemistries.


INDA appoints Matt O’Sickey as new Director of Education & Technical Affairs

INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, announced the appointment of Matt O’Sickey, Ph.D., as its new Director of Education & Technical Affairs. An accomplished market development, technology and product management executive, O’Sickey has more than 20 years of experience with Tredegar Film Products in the absorbent hygiene, food, and medical sectors.

Most recently, he held Director positions at RKW-North America in the areas of research and development, product design, application engineering, site operations, quality, and technology with a focus on breathable, and lamination films for controlled atmosphere packaging.

At INDA, O’Sickey will direct and expand workforce development programs for all industry members, manage the international harmonized standards activities, and play a leadership role in INDA’s product stewardship working groups and conference content development committees.


Flooding to impact cotton

A cotton field near Slaton, Texas. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Vardeman/CC-BY-2.0
A cotton field near Slaton, Texas. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Vardeman/CC-BY-2.0

A cotton crisis appears to be looming as flooding has destroyed around half of Pakistan’s cotton crop, according to government officials. Pakistan is the fifth largest producer and contributes 6% of the global cotton supply. India had flooding earlier this summer and cotton output is estimated to come in at 33.5 million bales this year, compared to 35.5 billion last year. Meanwhile, Texas, the largest producer of cotton in the U.S. has been decimated by drought, and output is expected to drop by 50%.

UNIFI, Makers of REPREVE®, Elects Frank Blake to the Board of Directors

Frank Blake

Unifi, Inc., makers of REPREVE and one of the world’s leading innovators in recycled and synthetic yarns, announced the election of Frank Blake to the Company’s Board of Directors, effective September 5, 2022.

Blake currently serves as the non-executive Chairman of Delta Air Lines, Inc.’s board of directors. He served as the Chairman and CEO of The Home Depot from 2007 until November 2014 and thereafter as Chairman of the board of directors until his retirement in February 2015. He previously served as Vice Chairman of the board of directors of The Home Depot and as Executive Vice President. Mr. Blake joined The Home Depot in 2002 as Executive Vice President — Business Development and Corporate Operations. He was previously the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy and served in a variety of executive positions at General Electric Company, including as Senior Vice President, Corporate Business Development in charge of all worldwide mergers, acquisitions and dispositions. Additionally, Mr. Blake is a member of the board of directors of Macy’s, Inc. and was previously a member of the board of directors of The Procter & Gamble Company.

Mr. Blake holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and received his juris doctor degree from Columbia Law School.


Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems program launches

Canadian startup OMsignal has introduced a range of smart sports shirts that monitor the wearer’s heart rate, breathing and movement, and then use Bluetooth LE to send the collected data to their smartphone for real-time analysis.

The Naval Information Warfare Center, Pacific (NIWC Pacific), on behalf of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), is soliciting proposals under a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the new Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems (SMART ePANTS) program. IARPA, the funding agency for the program, invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community (IC). It aims to push the boundaries of science to develop solutions that empower the IC to do its work better and more efficiently for national security.

The goal of SMART ePANTS is to develop Advanced Smart Textile (AST)-based garments with the ability to record audio, video and location information experienced by the wearer. These garments should also be comfortable, durable and washable, just like regular clothing. By weaving these devices directly into garments, IC staff will be able to record information from their environment hands-free, without the need to wear uncomfortable, bulky, and rigid devices. As a result, personnel will have greater range of motion, thus improving their response time in challenging circumstances.

Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) and the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) were recently named as the testing and evaluation team for this program, in addition to offering government furnished capabilities.


INDA announces the RISE® Innovation Award finalists

INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, announced the three finalists that will present their innovative material science solutions as they compete for the prestigious RISE® Innovation Award during the 12th edition of the Research, Innovation & Science for Engineered Fabrics Conference (RISE®), to be held in person September 27-28 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.

The award recognizes novel innovations within and on the periphery of the nonwovens industry that creatively use next-level science and engineering principles to solve material challenges and expand the usage of nonwovens and engineered fabrics.

The finalists are:

Cat Litter Made from Recycled Nappies – DiaperRecycle

DiaperRecycle has developed technology to recycle used diapers into cat litter. The aim of the company is to make an environmental impact and decrease the climate changing emissions of diaper waste. They’re diverting used diapers (used in households and businesses such as elder care) from landfill, separating the plastic and fiber and making cat litter. The plastic is prepared for recycling by plastics recyclers. The cat litter product is made by DiaperRecycle from the super absorbent fiber of diapers; it’s highly absorbent and flushable.

Biodegradable Diaper Components – Gottlieb Binder GmbH & Co. KG

Together, Avgol and Binder take on the challenge of disposable absorbent articles for the good of future generations and came up with sustainable diaper components. The technologies used are based on biotransformation technology, which makes it possible to achieve more sustainable products by supporting recycling and providing an alternative route for non-recyclable/fugitive waste management.

sero® hemp fibers – Bast Fibre Technologies, Inc.

Bast Fibre Technologies’ sero® hemp fibers offer the nonwoven industry an all-natural substitute for plastic fibers. From dedicated European- and US-based production facilities, BFT transforms raw bast fibers into premium natural fibers for applications ranging from single-use and durable wipes to industrial applications. Suitable for minority or majority blends, sero® hemp combines easily with standard nonwoven fibers to produce fabrics that meet the industry requirements for strength, uniformity, and processing efficiency.

RISE® conference attendees, technology scouts and product developers in the nonwoven/engineered fabrics industry seeking new developments to advance their businesses, will electronically vote for the recipient of the 2022 RISE® Innovation Award. The winner will be announced Wed., Sept. 28th.


Teijin Holdings USA President Thomas appointed Commerce Investment Advisory Council

Teijin Limited announced that Jane Thomas, Teijin Group chief representative of the Americas, and president of Teijin Holdings USA Inc., was appointed to the Investment Advisory Council of the United States Department of Commerce, a position she will serve until April 6, 2024.

This will be the second appointment of Thomas to a high-ranking advisory role in support of the mission of the United States Department of Commerce. Her first appointment was made under former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

The Investment Advisory Council was established in 2016 as a conduit for key stakeholders to provide insights and counsel on how best to attract and retain foreign direct investment in the United States. Thomas joins a team of senior executives and industry leaders representing a breadth of industries and economic development agencies, all with the singular focus of providing their insights to the Secretary of Commerce. This appointment reflects Thomas’s belief in American workers and her commitment to bringing manufacturing to America.

Thomas acts as an Executive Board Member of the American Composites Manufacturers Association, a Board Member of Women in Manufacturing, and a founding member of Women in the Composites Industry as well. Thomas will complement the Council’s other business professionals by contributing her many years of such private-sector knowhow.


Asian textile giant invests in closed-loop recycling

Textile waste is one of the least-treated plastic waste streams and tends to end up in landfill.
Textile waste is one of the least-treated plastic waste streams and tends to end up in landfill. Photo courtesy of AIMPLAS

Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), a global group of resource-based manufacturing companies that includes viscose fiber producers Sateri and Asia Pacific Rayon, is developing urban-fit, closed-loop textile-to-textile recycling solutions through the newly formed RGE-NTU Sustainable Textile Research Center (RGE-NTU SusTex).

This is a five-year research collaboration between RGE and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore to accelerate innovation in textile recycling that can be deployed in urban settings.

The research center will develop new technologies to recycle textile waste into fiber and create next-generation eco-friendly and sustainable textiles. The move comes amid waste import bans in countries such as China, India and Indonesia, which are among the world’s largest waste processors. The stricter import bans have left cities in need of viable local textile recycling solutions to tackle the immense textile waste generated, RGE noted.


Fibertex Nonwovens is strengthening the organization in North America

Fibertex Nonwovens is strengthening the organization in North America. Fibertex Nonwovens A/S, Aalborg/Denmark, announced the appointment of Carlos Benatto as President, Fibertex Nonwovens, North America. He succeeds Oscar Fontalvo, who has been in the position for the past five years. Benatto is a skilled, experienced senior executive, who has a proven track record within Fibertex as the Managing Director, Fibertex Nonwovens Brazil, over the last 5 years. Before that, his career developed in a multinational company, with 18 years of experience in business management, sales, marketing and finance, and acting in several executive leadership positions in Latin America across several segments within DuPont, Wilmington, DE/USA. Benatto is fully committed to the Nonwovens Industry and has served as Chairman on the Brazilian Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics and Technical Textile Industry (ABINT) for over 6 years.