Products of Change


Wed 06 Apr 2022 | by Rob Hutchins

Sleeping earthed | Dreamtex talks ground-breaking sustainability and why its backing SiLC 22 this year

When it comes to stepping up the sustainable practices within the licensed bedding sector, it’s pretty apparent that Dreamtex is among the companies to be leading the conversation. In fact, the firm’s constantly evolving relationship with sustainability and the sure footing it is taking along its sustainable journey has helped the small but agile team introduce some pioneering UK firsts within the field, including a partnership with Repreve, the name behind a game-changing performance fibre to be made from recycled materials. With such a partnership in the bag, and a core message of sustainable production and continual efforts to reduce its environmental impact at every step of the way, it goes without saying that there could be no stronger advocate for sustainability in licensing than Dreamtex and its team of pioneers. Lucky for us, then – and it is of course, a great honour – that Dreamtex also happens to be among a roster of industry-leading names to be sponsoring the Sustainability in Licensing Conference this year. Here, we catch up with the Duckworth duo (that’s Corinne and Jo Duckworth for those sill unacquainted) to learn more about the team’s ongoing journey towards game-changing industry innovation and sustainability. To start, I hope you don’t mind the introduction? We say 'Duckworth Duo' in the most endearing way. You are, of course Corinne Duckworth, fielding business management at Dreamtex, and Jo Duckworth, the company director. And to you both, hello! Hello Rob and Products of Change! So, reacquainting myself with the fantastic work you’ve done so far in adopting more sustainable practices, I went directly to the Dreamtex website. We’re totally loving the sustainability section on there! Can we kick off by talking around Dreamtex’s relationship with the sustainability topic? What got you guys started on your journey? Thanks! We felt our website was the perfect vehicle to begin our sustainability conversation. It’s being updated all the time and we see it as a point of reference to advise and inform people as our journey continues to evolve. This journey began when one of our team brought a re-usable fabric gift-wrap into the office that she had received. Her friend had chosen to use this rather than a single-use paper gift wrap. On closer inspection, we found that it was made from recycled plastic bottles. We immediately got in touch with our suppliers in order to source a similar material as we had already been working on several sustainable ideas in our R&D meetings. We thought that incorporating recycled plastic into our products was a brilliant idea and the timing of getting the gift-wrap couldn’t have been better. Sustainability has become such an important topic for the consumer, our retailers and our suppliers, and it has become a key element in licensing in recent years. We’re working hard to try and incorporate sustainability into every product that we create as it’s such an important message that we want to convey to all our customers and partners.

Dreamtex not only produces its bedding ranges sustainably, but promotes the message through its design and partnerships
What has that journey to date been like for you guys? You’re certainly leading the conversation in the space with your UK firsts (Repreve® partnership etc) - what’s the process of implementing these changes and partnerships been like, in terms of reception, willingness from the industry etc? Our conversations led us to Repreve®, a leading performance fibre made from recycled materials. To date they have recycled over 25 billion plastic bottles and helped to emit fewer greenhouse gases and conserve water and energy in the process. We were really excited at the prospect of using this innovative material for the first time and we identified National Geographic as the perfect partner to help us get started on our road to becoming a greener company. As this was the first time Repreve® had been used on licensed home textiles in the UK we considered how best to get the message across to our retail partners and the consumer. The range was produced with zero plastic packaging and instead we used recycled card wrap bands which explained what Repreve® was and how many plastic bottles had been used in the making of each duvet set. Our retail buyers were really interested and positive about the new products right from the start and, like us, they also wanted to make sure that the sustainability message was conveyed to the consumer. And what is your Repreve partnership doing to push the sustainability agenda across licensing today? It’s brilliant to see that you’re rolling it across more brand partnerships - are you able to offer us a little update on that at all? We have continued to work with our retail partners to develop other Repreve® collections since the National Geographic launch, for example Life Magazine and the Gruffalo, and across new product areas as well, such as junior, double and king-size duvet sets, towels, blankets and cushions, which have also proved to be extremely popular. We are trying to push the sustainability agenda at every opportunity. As well as spotlighting it on the website, we’ve joined several organisations including SILC and Products of Change who we supported at Brand Licensing last year with a selection of our products for the Sustainability Activation display. This was a great way to showcase sustainability in the industry. And we love the support you have shown us, as well as the keen innovation you have been showcasing to the industry! Now since you mention it, let’s give it a little plug… It’s great to have you guys on board and supporting the Sustainability in Licensing Conference this year. Why do you consider the conference to be an important one for the licensing industry?  We are keen to have discussion with other companies operating in the licensing industry and SiLC provides the perfect environment for everyone to share their ideas and thoughts on sustainability, both in-person and digitally. It’s great that people will finally be able to get together in person and that all carbon will be offset from the event. It is an important event as it gives people an opportunity and a point in time to focus on the key issues and learn how they might develop and progress their sustainability journeys. Well that was a masterful plug for SiLC this year, well done! Back to good stuff then, and are you looking at any further developments in the recycled materials space? Yes, we are looking at new developments in technology and textile manufacturing all the time. Eventually, our aim is for single use plastic to be removed from all our products and for those products to be durable, reusable, recyclable and circulating in the economy. We are seeking out new ways to become a greener company and, although there are challenges to overcome, we are confident that our goals are achievable in the long term.
The team has partnered with some of the biggest names in the licensing space, including National Geographic (left) and BBC Studios' Bluey (right)
You also mention your WRAP and OPRL partnerships and that you are exploring new ways of packaging and reducing unnecessary materials - what can you tell us about these developments? How are you guys designing with circularity and end of life in mind? WRAP and OPRL help to empower the consumer with the knowledge of how and when to recycle packaging correctly. Being a member of these organisations has really opened our eyes to the importance of packaging and creating circularity in that area. It allows us to give clear messaging to customers on how they can recycle our packaging at home. Our website also provides us with a great opportunity to link to recycling centres using WRAP in order to advise and inform the consumer, as well as ideas to re-use and extend the life of our homewares. What’s exciting you guys the most in the materials innovation or circularity space right now? Is there anything you’re looking to explore further this year? Repreve® was a great introduction for us into sustainability and while we are continuing to use Repreve® as an alternative to polyester, we are looking into new materials and fully recyclable fabrics such as 100 per cent BCI cotton and organic recycled cotton. We are now full members of BCI (The Better Cotton Initiative), the world’s leading sustainability initiative for cotton which helps cotton communities to survive whilst protecting and restoring the environment and are launching BCI Bluey duvets sets and towels this summer. Starting this journey has made us consider all aspects of sustainability. We do recognise that we have a responsibility to the environment and we have developed Dreamtex Earth, our long-term strategy to reduce the environmental impact of our activities and help make a difference to our planet and create a shift to sustainability in our market over time. Industry-wide and end-to-end solutions are well recognised as integral in developing sustainability further - in terms of transparency across the supply chain, what has Dreamtex got in place here? It’s important for us to be able to certify the authenticity of our sustainable products such as Repreve® or BCI cotton. Each batch of Repreve® is traceable and each factory is certified as part of our BCI cotton programme. In addition to BCI we are also members of Sedex and our suppliers are Oeko-Tex and Amfori approved. We require annual social audits of the facilities associated with our products, we only deliver products that are tested and free from harmful substances.
Dreamtex showcased its collection at Brand Licensing Europe last year at the Products of Change Sustainability Activation.
People and purpose are equally integral elements in the strive for Net Positivity within business - the idea of being a regenerative and restorative business - how closely are you aligned with these principles and what does this look like for Dreamtex? As a manufacturer of consumer products, our ultimate aim must be to increase the wellbeing of people and the planet with everything that we sell, whilst helping to develop communities in our supply chains. From the start our values have been to act with integrity, to foster inclusivity and dignity through teamwork and respect, commit to doing more, exceed expectations and strive to make constant improvements in quality and innovation. There is so much to consider in becoming a truly net positive company, however we have made a start by focussing on our operation, employees, products and suppliers. There is a great deal of work to be done and we hope that our efforts will help to make things better in the long run. What’s the next step for you guys on the sustainability front from here? How will you continue to lead the conversation within the licensing and bedding space? Immediate next steps for us are focussing on company energy saving initiatives, staff training on greener practices, implementing our internal policies, reducing plastic in our packaging and looking at our company’s carbon footprint and emissions. Are there any topics or areas of sustainability you’d like to see covered, have questions answered, or just be keen to explore with Products of Change? It’s always good to speak to fellow colleagues in the licensing industry and see how they’re getting on with their sustainability journeys, successes, challenges and new technologies that they’ve come across. Being part of Products of Change and the Sustainability in Licensing Conference is really important to us as they give us platforms we can use to learn and network with likeminded companies. We’re keen to explore how other companies are addressing sustainability in the licensing industry. Corinne, Jo – I stated in the introduction to this interview what an honour it is to have your support of the Sustainability in Licensing Conference this year, and I truly mean it. You guys are doing some fantastic work in pushing this agenda within your area of licensing expertise, so huge congratulations on all you have done so far. We can’t wait to see what comes next. Now, before I let you leave and get on with it all… is there anything you’d like to end on? Thanks Rob, we think we’d like to end by saying that Dreamtex Earth is an exciting step in this journey for us as we look to build upon the work we’ve already done. We’re looking forward to expanding our sustainable collections with 100 per cent BCI cotton this year and continuing our focus on becoming a greener company. That’s wonderful stuff. Anyone looking to connect with the Dreamtex team can do so through the usual channels, while Products of Change members can connect via our very own Mighty Networks platform.