Environmental values have always been at the heart of CIEL Textile's DNA | Ciel Textile Website

Environmental values have always been at the heart of CIEL Textile's DNA

Business Files: Interview with Quentin Thorel, Group Head of Sustainability at CIEL Textile - article published in Business Magazine Number 1638 (3-9 April 2024)


To meet the demands of brand customers and end consumers, and the need to reduce the energy bill and environmental footprint of the textile and clothing industry (against a backdrop of rising input costs), more and more textile and clothing producers are adopting a low-carbon or carbon-neutral approach. How are things at CIEL Textile?

Environmental values have always been at the heart of CIEL Textile's DNA. Aligned with the industry's most demanding standards, the company is able to meet the expectations of brands by positioning itself as a "leader" who accompanies them in their energy transition. Quite a feat, given that the company's customer portfolio is essentially made up of mid-range and high-end clients. A forerunner in this field, CIEL Textile did not wait for brands and consumers to show greater interest in these values before committing itself to this responsible approach. 


As a major player in local industry, CIEL Textile believes it has a key role to play in the energy transition. The group has therefore shaped its structure to meet this imperative by developing a sustainable strategy built around three pillars: "Foster a Vibrant Workforce", "Champion Inclusive Growth" and "Activate Climate Response". This enables the company to be clear about its ambitions and objectives.  On the question of energy, CIEL Textile began its transition to renewable energies and the reduction of its carbon footprint several years ago. Its factories in India, Madagascar and Bangladesh run on biomass. They have eliminated coal from their production chain and aim to achieve 80% renewable energy by 2030. This goal is well on the way to being achieved, as the Group had already passed the 40% mark by the end of 2023. In 2024, CIEL Textile plans to inaugurate two solar installations: a 1 MW farm in Mauritius and a 3.4 MW farm in Madagascar.


CIEL Textile is now able to measure its carbon footprint using dedicated software incorporating specific indicators. With a view to going even further, the group has entrusted a specialized organization with the task of carrying out an assessment that encompasses scope 3, i.e. everything outside the company's direct control.

Finally, like the CNIS (Carbon Neutral Industrial Sector) Scheme, the incentives introduced by the government are welcomed by the industry as helping to speed up the transition.


What about technology and innovation in this sector?

Thanks to technology, digitalization and artificial intelligence, CIEL Textile is able to model a garment in 3D, enabling a significant reduction in waste and therefore in the environmental impact of this design phase. The group is also exploring artificial intelligence to optimize sales, by more quickly identifying styles that will appeal. 

From a technological point of view, the latest generation of machines boast optimized energy efficiency compared with previous years, although there is still considerable potential for improvement. In this context, research and development play a key role today.

Because of their significant ecological and environmental impact, ultra fast fashion and fast fashion are increasingly criticized internationally. Ultra fast fashion products in particular are described as being of poor quality, so much so that a French bill has just been unanimously adopted to counteract its "misdeeds". What are your views?

At CIEL Textile, we welcome this kind of approach. Governments and states that manage to impose regulations along these lines are helping to raise consumer awareness of the cause. 

We can also take the example of carbon labeling, which will be implemented in a few years' time: textile players must be prepared to meet the expectations of consumers who are increasingly educated and sensitive to responsible consumption.

The introduction of a carbon tax on the textile industry will help to balance competitiveness in terms of environmental impact. For the time being, the industry is still very cost-driven, but strong political decisions will trigger a shift towards a more reasoned and responsible approach.


What are the latest innovations you have introduced or plan to introduce to your product range?

CIEL Textile recently created an in-house "Eco index" to help design teams understand the impact of the choices they make during their creative exercises. The tool indicates the product's environmental footprint to raise designers' awareness and encourage them to make the most virtuous choice. Even if the final decision lies with the customer, CIEL Textile systematically proposes and recommends the most sustainable option possible.