This question takes us back years and years, when the father and founder of Arpe patented the cleaning cloth for the automotive sector made of synthetic material and continuous multifilament. A turning point, a before and after in the future of the company.
And why was it so revolutionary? Originally, the cleaning cloths car factories used in the production lines, and especially in the clean rooms, were made of cotton. A fabric material that released fibers and contaminated the work environment. To solve this problem, the first proposal was to replace cotton with synthetic material with certain characteristics and techniques that minimized the contamination of micro-plastics (something that has currently been very useful to us). The second one was to reuse the cloths instead of throwing them away after the first use. And, in these two aspects, synthetic material proved great improvements and advantages compared to cotton: it did not contaminate the environment and it allowed it to be washed more times, having a longer lifespan.
When the Pera siblings took over the company as the next generation, they were faced with the great dilemma: "Should we switch to natural materials or should we continue with synthetics?" But the answer was easier than it seemed:
"If we use natural materials we will lose our identity, no longer be ourselves, and we’ll be switching from a synthetic material that is abundant (and can be recycled) to a natural material that, if massively used and produced, is not sustainable."
And here is where we realize we got it all wrong. The truth is that not everything can be made from natural materials. Basically because there wouldn't be enough, and crops and agricultures that cultivate food would have to be for fabric.
Of which there is in abundance, however, is of synthetic materials. All the plastic created so far, unless it has been incinerated or thrown into space, is still on the planet. Everywhere you look, there is some, especially in the humans' production cycle. And even though we fight for a more plastic-free planet, we are also aware it is essential in the medical and technological field, among others. And once we know it cannot be fully extinguished, we have to bet on circular economy projects and techniques. We cannot throw away this so resistant and durable material, but find it new uses and forms.
We defend that it is more sustainable to take advantage of the materials we already have within the production system, and work to improve them.
How are they recycled? What is their end of life management? What happens with microplastics? We need to identify the problems and investigate how to make them more sustainable.
We will prioritize recycled and recyclable materials, eco-design our products with a life cycle vision, use fewer quantities and fabric thickness, create durability and practicality, seek circularity in our processes, talk to individuals and expert associations, analyze the before and after of our fabrics and products, and work to make them better and have the least environmental impact.
We will do it and we are already doing it, because we fully trust our decision to use synthetic materials