Spotlight on...Closed loop clothing continues to make progress
Closing the loop in the clothing supply chain is continuing to make progress, with more brands beginning to launch products that use recycled fibres.
Speaking at an event organised by sustainability group Made-By last week, representatives from denim brands G-Star and Kuyichi spoke about how they are integrating recycled cotton into their products.
Currently, G-Star recycles the denim worn by its staff and faulty products, while Kuyichi last month launched a system called Deposit Denim.
Working in partnership with Texperium, Kuyichi international sales director Peter Schuitema said the company aims to include up to 40% recycled fibres in its jeans. The recycled fibre will be spun with organic virgin cotton to ensure the fabric is strong enough to be used as denim.
Kuyichi's desire to innovate stems from its background, forming in 2000 after Dutch NGO Solidaridad supported the producion of organic cotton in Peru. At the time, none of the big brands were interested in buying organic cotton, so it decided to launch Kuyichi.
"The reason we do it, is to show it is possible," Schuitema said last week.
Another retailer investing in closing the loop is H&M, which launched a clothing recycling scheme in December last year. The fashion firm's life cycle specialist, Erik Karlsson, said it has received 750 tonnes of clothing since February.
But while he has longer term ambitions for the programme, "changing consumer behaviour is key, returning clothing is new, and it will take time."
While it is still in the nascent stages, Karlsson said recycling PET reduces greenhouse gasses by 58% from bottle to fabric, which shows the "huge potential" for closed loop business models.
"Closing the loop on textiles, making new from old is our long term ambition," he said.
He explained that 95% of clothing that goes into landfill could go to other uses, and that in Sweden, consumers throw away 15kg of clothing per person per year, with 8kg being incinerated.
Nick Morley, a director at sustainability consultancy Oakdene Hollins believes that the industry needs to focus on all forms of recycling, not just closed loop.
"Closed loop has caught the imagination, it's easier to explain than charities selling products in the third world," he said.
He expects competition for old clothing from charity schemes and cash for clothing programmes to rise, which means that consumers will become increasingly careful of how they dispose of their clothes. He suggests that this may mean 70-80% of clothing will be collected in the longer term.
"Recognition of the value of clothing could come quite quickly," emphasised Morley.
Companies: H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB
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