Spinning it around

Whilst circular textiles are the talk of the town amongst public and private value chain actors, conversations rarely unite actors of both worlds. The fashion industry strives to close their supply chains into a circular one. Meanwhile, governments are facing a growing mountain of valueless discarded textiles. EigenDraads was established to create awareness amongst local governments, often responsible for waste management, on the recycling solutions for textiles that are emerging. Ambercycle is one of the frontrunning initiatives developing a solution to the textile waste problem. In 2019, ambercycle and EigenDraads partnered to show the potential for chemical recycling to tackle the growing mountain of textile waste cities are facing across the globe. To do so, a garment was created from textile waste collected during the marathon of Rotterdam supplemented with other discarded textiles from Rotterdam citizens. 

This pilot project received financial support from the City of Rotterdam. The Rotterdam region holds a unique position as major international transit port for used textiles and could be the ideal location to create a last resort for used, non-rewearable textiles. EigenDraads decided to actively investigate the potential of the region as a textile recycling hub in 2018, with this pilot project as a major step to show the potential of emerging chemical recycling technologies.

Photographs by: Christian van der Kooy

The pilot sports jersey consists of 10% of ambercycle’s cycora™ material – a polyester alternative, regenerated from landfill-destined textile ‘waste’. This might sound like little, but means a lot. In 2020, the EigenDraads team was able to show the city’s councilor that a city like Rotterdam can play an active role in creating a recycling hub to solve the waste problem using technologies like ambercycle’s. Whilst the city did not have ambitions on textiles in the past, she now intends to publish its own vision on circular textiles in 2021.

The jersey is on display at BlueCity in Rotterdam starting April 24th! More information on the technical sports jersey can be found in the pilot’s detailed description.

The pilot illustrated that there is still a huge gap between the fashion industry’s focus on and investment in recycling solutions, and the acute textile waste problems governments are facing. Recycling technologies like ambercycle’s will not scale without demand for recycled content from the fashion industry. However, the immediate need for such technologies will never be known if governments do not start to investigate their use to reduce the growing mountain of valueless textile waste they are facing. This pilot should be the start of a new, public-private approach to close the loop on textiles and spinning it around. Textile recycling is not a nice-to-have to realize circularity ambitions, but a need-to-have to tackle the growing mountain of valueless textiles we are facing.

Deze pilot is de start van een nieuwe aanpak om de textielketen circulair te maken. Textielrecycling is geen leuk stokpaardje om erbij te hebben bij het realiseren van circulaire ambities van gemeenten, maar hard nodig om de groeiende berg waardeloos textiel aan te pakken. Gemeenten moeten actief aan de slag met hun ketenpartners om de circulaire potentie van hun berg textielafval in kaart te brengen en benutten. “Niet lullen maar poetsen” zoals we dat in Rotterdam noemen. Oftewel: van praat naar draad.

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