“If we don’t tell them it’s sustainable chemistry, they won’t know”
The textile chemicals produced at Beyond Surface Technologies feel the same and act the same as the hazardous chemicals they are designed to replace. However, the Swiss company’s products come with a big red cherry on top.
“I thought that if renewable materials work for other industries then why shouldn’t they work for textile chemicals?”, Matthias Foessel, CEO of Beyond Surface Technologies, remembers.
Eleven years ago, he was in charge of new technologies at a big textile chemicals corporation. What he saw was that other industries were much more advanced when it came to using renewable raw materials as building blocks for chemical formulations.
“Back then, sustainability was unheard of in the world of textile chemicals. No one talked about it – and neither did I! I just saw it as applying common sense. If there are options that are safer for human health and better for the environment, which you can offer at a reasonable price without compromising the performance – then you should do that.”
“Unfortunately, I failed miserably at convincing my board to invest more money in sustainable chemistry and to start doing things differently. So, I had two choices; I either go back to business as usual or I truly believe in what I have suggested and go for it.”
Matthias Foessel went for it.
Together with a few colleagues he started Beyond Surface Technologies, a company dedicated to creating high performance textile chemicals from natural raw materials. The first four years were spent on learning and testing before the team had developed their first technology.
“For us, performance comes first. Our products look and feel the same and run on the same machines under the same conditions as traditional textile chemicals. If we didn’t tell our buyers it’s sustainable chemistry, they wouldn’t know”, Matthias Foessel says.
Today, Beyond Surface Technologies has five alternatives to synthetic crude oil-based textile chemicals on Marketplace.
Among them are plant seed oil-based softeners, wicking finishes and water repellents, which have all undergone various third-party assessments such as Greenscreen for safer chemicals and USDA certification.
What are the benefits of being on Marketplace?
“Many times, it’s difficult to connect with the right people within the textile sector. As we are obviously not one of the giants in our industry, it’s important to find ways to reach out with the resources we have. By advertising on Marketplace, we are made visible to many potential buyers and we reach the right audience directly.”
Have you had any success with your advertisements?
“Well, the ultimate success is to establish new business and that has been the case a couple of times so far – which is great! But even the contacts that didn’t lead to new business directly should be seen as a success, because they led to in-depth discussions with potential buyers and more understanding of our alternatives.”
What do you see in the future for safer alternatives in the textile industry?
“The textile industry is one of the biggest industries in the world and chemicals are heavily used throughout the processing of textiles. For that reason, I would say that there are endless opportunities for sustainable chemistry to come in and replace current chemicals both from a renewable perspective and from a hazard perspective.”