Interview Roef Gaasbeek
Roef Gaasbeek has been director and part owner of Rivertex Technical Fabrics Group BV since 2004. Rivertex was founded in 1980 with the goal to deliver quality technical fabrics to a wide array of customers.
“We see ourselves as a consultant who produces and delivers,” says Roef. “We don't just advise our customer, we develop, make and deliver all over the world. We offer a comprehensive solution”. Rivertex has its materials made by a select group of subcontractors. “We see this as an advantage, because it allows us to stay flexible and unbiased, so our customers receive the most suitable solutions. Our market is worldwide. We are a mini multinational”.
“We define technical textiles as man-made textiles based on technical requirements,” explains Roef. “The textile has to deliver a performance. The starting point is always technical. You can think of, for example, a lightweight tracking tent; Ultralight ripstop Nylon and a silicone coating are used to reach a certain tear strength and water resistance. On the other side of the spectrum we offer heavy 5 layer materials for bellows on trains and buses”.
“An important product of Rivertex is the textile for the life jacket you find under your seat in an airplane or on board a ship. In many cases, that material is ours. But we also supply materials for events, for example. Large inflatable structures, promotional things. In short, Rivertex supplies synthetic textiles with a synthetic coating or laminate that are used for a specific technical or industrial application. We focus on five market segments: medical, marine, PPE (personal protection), tents and structures and industrial”.
“Mainly for the 'industrial' segment, products are often made from PVC coated polyester. PVC contains toxic substances and the combination of polyester and PVC is not recyclable, which means that after use it is incinerated or ends up as landfill. Rivertex has been developing a sustainable alternative to PVC for years. Something that is better for the environment, both in production and in the product itself, and preferably recyclable. We have now discovered that alternative in Rivercyclon. Rivercyclon is based on polypropylene, it contains no toxic substances and is 100% recyclable.
We have reached the point where for example we can convert waterproof materials for outdoor clothing, made of polyester and PU, into an 80-90% recycled and 100% recyclable product that offers the same performance at similar cost. That is key in our sustainability philosophy.”
“I find it very rewarding to develop materials that are sustainable and add value to the end product, and then take it from concept to mass production. With Rivercyclon, that has worked out well. It is really a disruptive product.”
“From 21-24 of June we will be at Techtextil in Germany. This year Rivertex presents a revolutionary and sustainable product called Rivercyclon. We have never been this far ahead of the market before. I therefore expect a lot of interest. We use a kind of innovation desk to show the steps of the recycling process and people can compare Rivercyclon with the original PVC coated textiles. The great thing is that the material feels the same, has a similar technical performance, but is environmentally friendly. We are now trying to convert products that we may have been selling for 25 years to a more sustainable alternative. Without loss of quality and reasonably priced. With Rivercyclon, Rivertex offers a big step towards a cleaner world and I am very proud of that!”