SATCoL, which is the trading arm of the Salvation Army, has reached the next stage of its circularity initiative, but is on the hunt for corporate partners to reach its annual recycling goals and create the UK’s “first” fibre farm.

The first phase of its initiative was the trial of its Fibersort machine, which was designed to transform polyester textiles into small pellets that can then be spun into yarn to prevent clothes reaching landfill. The second phase was its Re:claim project, a joint venture with corporate wear specialists Project Plan B, that aims to deliver yarn-to-yarn polyester recycling on a commercial-scale.

SATCoL’s head of environment and sustainability Marjonne Frost highlighted during a recent session at Source Fashion the organisation is now hoping to develop technologies for other fibre types and fibre blends.

She said: “We are doing a lot of work with other companies to recycle these fabrics and working with universities on R&D for these technologies.”

Plus, she shared SATCoL is on the hunt for corporate partners to help with the latest stage of its Re:Claim polyester recycling project.

SATCoL needs companies that can commit to donating 100% polyester textiles to meet its recycling goal of 2,500 tonnes in the first year and 5,000 tonnes in the second year.

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The organisation added that this is all part of its wider plan of creating the UK’s “first” fibre farm, with the aim of massively scaling up textile-to-textile recycling of all types of materials.

How can fashion brands, retailers help with circularity?

Frost believes fashion brands and retailers are excited to see circular solutions but there is still a lot of work to be done to level the playing field.

She explained brands need to keep designs minimal and have the garment’s end-of-life in mind from the start. She pointed out the importance of including recycled materials in the clothing too, with the ultimate goal of creating a durable and recyclable garment or textile.

Frost pointed out that a lot of garments have three, four or five different types of fibres in them, which make them really hard to recycle.

SATCoL’s marketing manager Charlene Bent was keen to share the partnering opportunities the organisation has to offer to encourage donations for recycling.

She said one opportunity is the take-back scheme, where SATCoL works in partnership with brands, to encourage customers to be a part of the process and donate their used textiles online or in-store.

SATCoL also offers corporate donations. As part of this initiative, the organisation collects excess stock, customer returns and faulty stock from brands and retailers and resells it through one of the 240 charity shops across the UK.

Clothing banks for re-wearables and non-wearables

From a consumer point of view SATCoL also collects used items through clothing banks which can often be found in UK supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons as well as car parks.

Bent described textiles as the UK’s fastest growing household waste stream and stated donations is just one possible route to help the cause.

SATCoL’s latest donation textile bank is still in its trial phase at the moment and is designed for non-re-wearables.

SATCoL’s corporate partnerships manager Allison Waterhouse explained the non-re-wearable bank is for people who are not sure what to do with items that are too worn out to be donated for second-hand use so would otherwise be thrown in the bin.

She said: “This trial is really to try and encourage people to donate those items as well. We’ve developed a special trading bank for worn out items and we’re going to see how well that works, and what’s necessary around what kind of items people can put in a bin.”

Waterhouse concluded that she hopes to spread the message so it can be scaled further.