Sunbury Design: Time to Think Differently…

2022 marks a significant change, not only are we coming out of the COVID pandemic but we are all looking towards how we can be more environmentally responsible.

[Find Sunbury Design on the BCFA Product Finder]

Over decades the modern textile industry has invested time and money in doing things ‘a certain way’, using established supply chains and proven chemicals to meet the technical and commercial demands of the market. Change is happening but there is still no ‘perfect solution’.

Currently the demand for sustainable textiles in the hospitality sector is in a minority with most customers continuing to prioritise cost, performance and design over anything else. We must continue to meet these criteria for our business to remain successful.

Moving forward we see the role of SUNBURY DESIGN as an ethical supplier as we educate ourselves and inform our customers on the decisions we have made, especially when developing new collections, to minimise the impact our fabrics have on the environment.

SUNBURY DESIGN has always met environmental responsibility by adapting to new laws and regulations and limiting the use of dangerous chemicals and processes to comply with UK and EU REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation & restriction of chemicals). With the launch of new collections; Sorsdal FR Recycled Velvets, Cascade Recycled Digital Print and Zonda FR Recycled Weaves, Sunbury Design are now able to offer much more. These new collections are woven using Repreve branded recycled polyester yarns, the crib 5 FR is halogen free, and the easy clean treatment is free from perfluorocarbons.

But there is a need to be transparent and accept that there will need to be some compromise…

Using branded recycled yarns such as Repreve with GRS (Global Recycling Standard) accreditation is more expensive but essential to guarantee that waste plastic that would otherwise go into landfill or pollute our oceans is being used.

Halogens have been necessary to meet stringent contract/hospitality fire retardancy (FR) standards with some of these elements already banned under REACH due to their toxicity. The biodegradable, halogen free options used in Sorsdal, Cascade and Zonda are comparatively new and used in less volume so subsequently more expensive.

Along with the FR, soil and stain treatments have become an essential part of hospitality fabric specification. PFC’s (perfluorocarbons, PFOA and PFOS) are generally used to achieve the oil repellent properties for the highest performance level. The issue is that PFC’s are not naturally found and according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the US – fluorocarbons are among the most potent and longest lasting type of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. Sorsdal, Cascade and Zonda all use a PFC free treatment. Currently PFC free treatments can only offer water repellent performance and are not resistant to oil based staining. This treatment, combined with the naturally easy clean recycled polyester yarns, will give the required protection against most normal spills (see their care guide EG for more details).

Recycling – beware of false claims

An important part of the sustainable puzzle is what to do with the product once it’s no longer needed. Sunbury Design’s fabrics are extremely durable and serviceable and will last for a very long time, but are FR treated fabrics genuinely recyclable? In theory maybe it is possible, however this would require the polyester fabric to be separated from the FR back-coating (and any soil & stain treatment removed) and currently are not aware of any commercial process that would do this. This is not something they can offer at the moment but continue to work with suppliers to find a viable solution.

As part of our sustainability policy we are constantly assessing our company and products as we all become more aware of our environmental responsibilities. Sunbury Design is a Green Mark accredited company, for more information visit:

Sorsdal, Cascade and Zonda are the first step as we continually develop more and better sustainable textiles. Over time our intention is to roll out technologies such as recycled yarns and halogen free FR on our existing lines however due to technical restrictions this is not going to be viable for everything we offer straight away.

Contact Sunbury Design through the BCFA Product Finder.

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About Phoebe Train

Phoebe is a Marketing and Events Executive, who joined the BCFA as an English graduate in 2021. Working closely with designers and BCFA members, Phoebe has published an array of content for Design Insider.
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