Recycling and fashion - at pinqponq

Living, traveling, eating and dressing oneself sustainably: the topic on sustainability can be found in a variety of areas of life, particularly in the Textile industry. Michael Damm is responsible for Corporate Responsibility (CR) at pinqponq. In an interview, he explains how we produce our products in a responsible and environmentally-friendly manner.

How sustainable can consumer products be?

Michael: „Strictly speaking, it is not possible to ‘consume sustainably’, because for every product finite resources such as water, energy and materials are used. We are aware of our corporate responsibility and always strive for a reduction in our ecological footprint and for fair conditions in our production facilities. For this, the way is the goal. The way begins with a complete understanding of the production and supply chain of our backpacks.”

Where do pinqponq bags come from?

Michael: „Our products are designed by our team in Cologne, crafted in Vietnam, transported to Germany, delivered to selected partners, and then sold. Who is willing to learn more about pinqponq production can inform oneself right here.“

What kind of fabric are our pinqponq bags made of?

Michael: „Polyester is the main material of our bags. It is particularly suitable for our backpacks because it is light, tough, and easy to work with. The material can be created using crude oil, however the same quality can be achieved by recycling PET plastic bottles. And we decided for the eco-friendly way for the outer fabric of our bags.“

How can we ensure that our bags are produced „well“?

Michael: „The working environment of the people who make our products in Vietnam or China is very important to us. During the product development and quality assurance phase, our designers, product managers, and buyers spend several weeks during the year on-site, working with our partners in the sewing rooms and gaining experience of a typical working day. We therefore gain a personal insight into working conditions at the workshops. If, after these so called „Social Audits“, we are not fully convinced that our corporate requirements match the working conditions of the production facility, then we work with the sewing rooms to convert the improvements.”

Where do the PET-bottles come from?

Michael: „Having to ship empty bottles from Europe to Asia is unnecessary as well as negatively impacts the environment, thus, we decided to avoid going down this route. We were visiting our suppliers in Taiwan instead and went through every stage of the supply chain. In Taiwan, the recycling system is subsidized. Whilst we monitor our suppliers' processes, the government also ensures that local bottles are recycled in most cases. Besides, our supplier from Global Recycling Standard (GRS) has been audited to use used PET bottles.“

Recycling as a sustainable strategy

Michael: „Recycling is a key pillar of our sustainability strategy and serves to minimize our impact on the environment when manufacturing our products. We use fabrics with a recycled PET bottle content of up to 100%. However, not all fabrics are made of recycled materials (e.g., the bottom of the cubic and also not the foams or the small plastic parts).“

How do you turn PET-bottles into a pinqponq backpack?

Michael: „The PET plastic bottles are crumpled up, crushed, and broken up into little shreds of plastic known as flakes. Specially-designed machines are used to thoroughly clean the shreds of any orange juice or soft drink residue. The flakes are melted, formed into granulated balls and then blown through extremely thin nozzles to produce wafer-thin polyester fibers. A weaving machine is then used to weave the fibers into fabric. This white fabric, which still looks very plain, can only be transformed into cheerful, colorful materials with saltwater and colored pigments. The fabrics are then coated with a creamy paste known as polyurethane paste to protect them.“

What does the bluesign® and UN Global Compact mean?

Michael: „We are bluesign® system partners. We show thereby our support for the system and get important information of other partners. The system eliminates environmentally-damaging substances from the production process and controls its compliance to have an environmentally-friendly and secure production.

The UN Global Compact is an initiative for a responsible corporate governance. It is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative with 13,000 corporate businesses and organizations from over 170 countries, which aims for a sustainable global economy. Also we from pinqponq are part of this initiative. The initiative is a principle-based framework for businesses, stating ten principles in the area of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. The UN Global Compact should not be understood as a certification, but as an open forum that catalyzes change processes and develops specific approaches to solving a Problem.“

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