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Industrial safety - 3 min read

The four global trends that affect the protective clothing industry

The world around us is developing at a rapid pace, and these changes have a great impact on how we operate our businesses. We must continuously assess external factors in the world around us in order to create an ambitious strategy that not only contributes to our own future growth, but empowers our customers and partners to be instrumental in creating better solutions. In this blog, we will explore four major global trends currently taking place.

#1 Global climate crisis

Heavy pollution, resource depletion and global warming of our planet are undeniable realities. The only way to stem further environmental impact is to aggressively decarbonise our economy while producing and consuming more responsibly.

The EU and Dutch governments have committed themselves to reach ambitious sustainability goals. The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 and become an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Climate Agreement.

At a national level, the Netherlands has set even more ambitious goals and accompanying timelines for our industry: to include at least 30% recycled materials in newly produced textile products by 2030; and to halve the ecological footprint of the textile sector in terms of emissions, water use, chemicals and microplastics by 2035.

#2 Trust & transparency

There has been a shift towards customers demanding greater openness and information from brands. They crave a deeper understanding of the brands they are potentially choosing to be engaged with. For instance, we see this in the food industry, where brands may declare their Rainforest Alliance certification, which promotes fair work and pay for farmers and sustainable practices in the environment; and in the beauty industry, where companies will openly disclose that their products are cruelty-free and/or vegan.

Within the textiles industry, the demand for transparency means that CSR reporting is becoming standard. Furthermore, life cycle analyses are being demanded by end users. Throughout the entire value chain, Good Manufacturing Practices and codes of conduct have been improved upon to ensure the highest level of working conditions are upheld.

#3 Health & safety

Many of us have come to place greater value our health and wellbeing, a trend which has only been bolstered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Where typically larger organisations have led in safety, we now see more and more small to medium-sized enterprises adopting safety norms.

The pandemic has accelerated the importance of a greater work-life balance. Hybrid working has become globally accepted, with Belgium for example moving to the option of a four day work week.

The safety market has consistently shown growth as safety standards improve in companies throughout the world. For instance, the roadwork industry is rapidly adopting flame resistant (FR) protection in their garments, and the US Navy is in the process of partially shifting from non-FR to FR fabrics in their uniforms. We expect to see strong growth continue in safety spending in developing markets worldwide.

#4 Digitalisation

Our partners and customers are more tech-savvy than ever. There are now more than 4.9 billion people using the internet, or over 62% of the global population. This means the new generation of decision-makers in our value chain are very agile in the digital world. In turn, end users expect the textile industry to become more digitally-minded going forward.

Communication between suppliers and customers is increasingly taking place online, with over 70% of the B2B buying process now done online. The textile industry has developed tools to take people’s measurements online/via a digital tool instead of physically measuring. Solutions such as these reduce lead times and improve service levels, as well as lowering costs for employers.

In addition, the increase in remote working, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, has forced companies to adapt and accept that digital ways of working are here to stay. This is important for us to note, as it means that employees may split their time between remote and on-site work, which may affect the adoption of PPE and therefore demand.

Global trends: here for us all and here to stay

It’s clear to see that these global trends very much apply to the protective clothing industry. Going forward, the challenge for our value chains is to embrace these trends and make them work for end users and the wider industry.

Interested in having a more in-depth conversation about the effects of global trends on your business? Contact our industry experts today, who will be happy to arrange a conversation.