ETSA Congress 2-3 May 2024

Prague, Czech Republic: ETSA, represented by its President, Dr Thomas Neyers, Secretary-General, Elena Lai, staff Nelly Le Devic and Nikolas Schulze-Makuch, along with all ETSATEAMits members celebrated a momentous occasion with its 2024 Congress, held on May 2-3 in the historic city of Prague. Marking the 30th anniversary of ETSA, the congress brought together industry leaders, experts, and innovators from around the globe  representing various aspects of the textile value chain to reflect on three decades of pioneering advancements and to chart a course for a sustainable, green, and digitized future.

Held at the esteemed Hotel Grandior, the congress was a resounding success, offering a rich blend of insightful discussions, networking opportunities, and celebrations of the industry's achievements and areas where the industry can improve and tackle in the years to come. ETSA Secretary General Elena Lai opened the event with a warm welcome, setting a positive and forward-thinking tone for the gathering. The opening remarks by ETSA Chairman Dr. Thomas Neyers and APAČ President Jana Puškáčová further emphasized the significance of the event and the salient issues the industry must tackle during our societal transition to a green, digital and circular economy.

PortasThe first session titled "Global Threads: Unravelling the Role of Textile Services in World Affairs" was a highlight of the congress. Paulo Portas, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Portugal, delivered a compelling keynote address, offering a nuanced overview of the geopolitical landscape and its impact on the textile services sector. His insights were greatly complemented by Joseph Ricci, President and CEO of TRSA in the United States of America, who provided an in-depth analysis of the industry's response to global challenges from the point of view of the industry in the USA.

HolzerThe second session focused on the importance of partnerships and collaborations in driving textile sustainability and recycling. Moderated by former ETSA Chairman Andreas Holzer, this panel featured experts including Anna-Kaisa Huttunen from Rester Oy, Chris Deloof from Rehubs Europe, Tosin Trim from Deploy London, and Soon Joo Bovenschen from TenCate Protective Fabrics.  Their discussions on new recycling models and sustainable fiber initiatives underscored the critical role of strong partnerships in meeting the growing demand for raw materials and advancing circularity in the industry.

The transition from green practices to digital innovations was expertly addressed in the subsequent session moderated by Lisa Lang of EIT Climate KIC. Insights from leaders such as Martina Ritzer, CIO at CWS, Ralf Schadowski, Data Protection Expert at ADDAG GmbH, Victor Ioane, CEO at Salesianer and Co-Founder of Linen2go, Mads Andresen, Director at Inwatec ApS, and Andreas Schneider, CEO at Global Textile Scheme, highlighted the balance between embracing digitalization and ensuring data security.

Charles The first day closed with a panel celebrating ETSA's 30-year legacy which was both light-hearted and inspiring, moderated by ETSA President, Dr Thomas Neyers. Industry veterans, including Christina Bardusch-Haupt from Bardusch, Xavier Martirè from ELIS, Juha Laurio from Lindström Group, Jesper Jensen from JENSEN Group, and Charles Betteridge from Christeyns, shared their experiences and visions, reflecting on the transformative impact of ETSA's advocacy and initiatives over the years. This session not only honoured and paid tribute to the past and those who came before us in making ETSA what it is now, but also set a hopeful tone for the future.

The guests reconvened later that night for a gala dinner at the Mlýnec restaurant in Prague. There the celebration continued, with the unveiling of the ETSA awards, and a merry atmosphere of excellent food and drink.

With the kick-off of the second day, the focus shifted to the ETSA Climate Ambassadorship and the campaign. Contributions from key figures like Kurt Vandenberghe, the Director-General of DG CLIMA showcased ETSA's leadership in promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship within the industry. The commitment and achievements of the past three years were particularly highlighted by Matthias Zoch and Nelly Le Devic. Jindrich Pietras, Communication Officer at the European Parliament at Nikolas Schulze-Makuch went on to discuss the European Elections, activating increased political participation therein and what textile services can do to engage with voters and future policymakers alike.

DiversityPanelThe congress also tackled the essential issue of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The following panel moderated by Elena Lai,  featured industry leaders who have championed gender equality and inclusiveness, sharing practical strategies and success stories. Panellists included Nadine Nembach from the European Women's Management Development Network, Gerda Jank from JENSEN-GROUP, Harald Goost from Bierbaum-Proenen, Anles Cabrera from Carrington Textiles, and Emma Kiviniemi Andersson from the Textile Services Association. Their insights provided valuable guidance for fostering a more inclusive industry environment.

DalkowskiConcluding the event, the final panel addressed the persistent skills gap in the textile services sector. Discussions led by Daniel Dalkowski were enriched by contributions from panellists such as Natalie Matignon from GEIST, Claire Bottineau from ELIS, Jan Lamme from Cibutex, and Bob Morrish from ECOLAB. They explored innovative approaches to attracting and retaining skilled workers, emphasizing the importance of upskilling and educational initiatives in ensuring a resilient workforce.

The ETSA Congress 2024 was more than just a conference; it was a landmark celebration and a strategic forum that set the stage for the future of the textile services industry. Attendees left with more knowledge, a deepened network  and inspired by the discussions on the most salient issues befalling the textile service industry today all while celebrating the remarkable achievements of the past 30 years.

For more information about the ETSA Congress 2024, please contact: Nikolas Schulze-Makuch


ETSA: Representing textile rental companies

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ETSA: In partnership with suppliers of detergents, fabrics and machinery

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ETSA: Coordinating national textile service associations and working with research institutes

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To find out more about our members including textile rental companies and suppliers, click here