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MILAN – At the ZDHC Impact Day being held today at the on-going ITMA 2023, Frank Michel, CEO of the ZDHC presented the organisation’s first ever lifetime achievement award to Thomas Schäfer, managing director of the Bluesign Academy for his outstanding contribution to sustainability in the textile chemical industry.

Schäfer, who will retire shortly, has been instrumental in several environmental textile chemistry initiatives – often providing his time and expertise behind the scenes for free – even for competitors.

He has also been a valuable source of technical knowledge and information for Ecotextile News magazine – again behind the scenes – and we wish him sincere best wishes in his retirement.

“I’d like to talk about someone who is a changemaker and change agent and has helped to bring the ZDHC to where we are now from our early stages – especially thinking back to 2017 when we were creating the ZDHC wastewater guidelines,” said Frank Michel with reference to Thomas Schäfer during the presentation of the achievement award.

Michel put on the record ‘how grateful’ the ZDHC was to have engaged with Thomas as a technical expert and advisor even though – remarkably – he works for Bluesign, which is often considered as a ‘competitor’ to the ZDHC in some key areas.

Schäfer, an experienced textile chemist based in Augsburg, thanked the over 150 delegates in attendance and the ZDHC and first thanked his family and children for having patience with his work on sustainability, “because when you work in sustainability in the textile industry you really need a lot of patience”, he joked.

He also mentioned influences on his career including primarily the well-known pioneer Dieter Sedlak, the founder of Modern Testing Services, which is now owned by Eurofins and thanked all his past and present Bluesign colleagues around the world.

Schäfer himself is something of a pioneer – especially when it came to collaboration, and he said that his final dream for the textile industry would be “more alignment between all the organisations and standards within the textile chemical industry in the coming years in both upstream, downstream and end of life processes”.

We hope he has a very enjoyable and long retirement and would like to extend a big thanks to him from everyone at MCL News & Media and Ecotextile News – we will miss his insights, but intend to remain in touch. 

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